The Discriminatory Law on NGOs and the ‘Black Rose of Freedom’

Source: (info), 16/07/12 

· Human rights defenders  · Human rights education  · Persecution of activists  · Public protests 

“The Moscow Helsinki Group has been the first to speak out. Just as Rosa Parks found, being the first is not easy...” 

                                                                                 * * * 

The Moscow Helsinki Group (MHG) will not follow the new law on NGOs and register as a foreign agent. 

On 1st December 1955 Rosa Parks, the 42 year old, black lady from Montgomery (Alabama), refused to give up her seat to a white passenger as the local law dictated, setting in motion the civil rights movement for black Americans. 

The clearly discriminatory law that the Russian parliament intends to pass once again brings to mind the times when people fought for their rights. 

The statement from the Moscow Helsinki Group should give the authorities something to think about. 

What would happen if all Russian NGOs refused to obey this law? Would they all be shut down? 

The Moscow Helsinki Group was the first to speak out. Just as Rosa Parks found, being the first is not easy. 

We do not know whether theirs will be a lone voice, or whether all Russian human rights defenders will this time come out in a united front. 

At the end of the day, if you fight for the rights of others, you also need to fight for your own rights, for the rights of human rights organisations. 

The Russian authorities have started to humiliate to an unprecedented degree those people who selflessly serve the Russian people, often risking their own lives. 

But who now remembers the name of the Mayor of Montgomery? Meanwhile, Rosa Parks is remembered by a great number of people. 

Source: Unofficial HRO LiveJournal blog 

                                                                                    * * * 

Rosa Lee Parks, (née Rosa Lee McCauley, 1913-2005) was an American civil activist, a pioneer in the USA black civil rights movement. The US Congress named Rosa ‘the first lady of civil rights’. 

Rosa Parks was of Melungeon descent, with African, Scots-Irish, and Cherokee-Creek roots. During a bus ride on 1st December 1955 in the town of Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa refused the request of the driver, James Blake, to give up her seat for white passengers. Similar refusals had already taken place - Irene Morgan in 1946 and Sarah Louise Keys in 1955 had won cases at the Supreme Court and the Interstate Commerce Commission, which applied to bus journeys between states. 

However, unlike these single acts of civil disobedience, the reaction of society to Parks’ act led to a boycott of the town’s buses. The boycott turned Rosa Parks into an international symbol of the fight against racial segregation, and made the boycott’s leader, Martin Luther King, famous throughout America, establishing him as the most important figure in the civil rights movement. 

In the years that followed Rosa Parks received many prizes and honours, from the Spingarn Medal (1979) to a statue in the United States Capitol’s National Statuary Hall. 

Until her act of defiance, Rosa was secretary of the Montgomery branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP), and had recently attended the Highlander Folk School, a centre in Tennessee providing training on workers’ rights and racial equality. In spite of this, she acted as a private individual who was “tired of giving in”. 

Although in later years she became well-known and respected, Rosa also suffered for her actions, losing her job as a seamstress in a local shop. 

Eventually she moved to Detroit and found work, again as a seamstress. 

From 1965 to 1988 she worked as a secretary in the office of African-American congressman John Conyers. 

Following her retirement, Rosa wrote an autobiography and lived in Detroit. She died on 24th October 2005, but remains an extremely significant figure for the black American population. Furthermore, Rosa Parks has become a household name, remembered as a determined black lady who fought for her rights.

Source: Wikipedia