11 June 2014
Source: HRO.org (info)
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"To the judges who issue judgments on the basis of telephone calls, to prosecutors who hide their eyes when you meet them, to the inspectors who apologize and then issue warnings, to journalists who ask to be forgiven and do not themselves believe their own reports. To you who tried to keep on earning their living in all this story.
To you, to them, and to yet others...!
Most importantly, to those who all this time have supported us; to those who did not believe and do not believe a single word in all this flood of lies and slander; to those who today, the most important day for us, have not been afraid to come and talk of their wish to join the Union of the Women of the Don, and in that way completely rejecting the very possibility of considering our organization a foreign agent.
THE UNION OF WOMEN OF THE DON IS NOT A FOREIGN AGENT, NEVER WAS, AND NEVER WILL BE!
On 5 June the Ministry of Justice against our will entered the regional non-profit human rights organization Women of the Don Union in the register of non-profit organizations functioning as foreign agents.
Precisely ‘against our will’, since our organization has not recognized itself as a foreign agent and does not do so.
We have already fought for the right not to bear this shameful label in the course of two trials – one of which is on-going.
We are not alone. Many leading non-profits in Russia are protesting against the amendments made in 2012 to the laws on non-profits and NGOs.
These amendments require that non-profits receiving funding from abroad and engaged in what is allegedly political activity, directed at changing government policy, register as foreign agents.
Yes, we received funding from foreign donors, but the Union of the Women of the Don NEVER engaged in the past, and is not engaged now, in political activity.
We are engaged in human rights work and in conflict prevention. That is why we have refused voluntarily to enter the register as a ‘foreign agent’.
That is why we and four other stubborn non-profits have been added to the register involuntarily. The authorities have grown tired of fighting against us and have opted to change the legislation instead.
Now the Ministry of Justice has been given the right to decide itself who is a foreign agent, and who is not.
WHAT IS OUR POSITION NOW?
We shall defend our stance, which we believe to be the only right one, by all legal means, if necessary taking our case to the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
We are continuing to work, as always, because we have not done, and are not doing, anything against the law.
The Union is now running its free legal advice clinic for the 21st year. Our experts continue, as they have in the past, to give free consultations to members of the public, non-profits, to municipal and government bodies.
We continue to develop services for schools on conflict resolution, and to facilitate public discussions and theatre. We working with people of various generations, and at our organization the very young and the very experienced and elderly people find mutual understanding and a refuge.
We work to combat violence against women and children.
We continue, no matter who may not be pleased by it, to carry out public oversight of the work of law enforcement agencies and, in the event that these agencies commit human rights violations, we shall not be silent.
We carry out monitoring of public transport.
We have supported more than 500 women in their fight to keep open the gynaecological department at the October micro-district polyclinic, and are working to find a reasonable outcome of the situation in the interests of Novocherkassk residents, both for today and in the future.
For many years we have been engaged in conflict resolution and we know that war is a tragedy, and what is the price of peace. We are convinced that today our experience, our knowledge and our abilities are needed by people who live in the zone of conflict where geopolitical interests clash, or put more simply, in those peaceful cities of the Ukraine that are now in the line of fire and under the bombs. We are ready together with all interested parties to seek a path to peace.
All these years we have provided humanitarian and psychological assistance to our fellow countrymen suffering from the consequences of terrorism and technological or natural disasters, and those who lived in zones of armed conflict.
We have helped people living in Volgodonsk, Buinaksk, Kaspiisk, Groznyi, Beslan, Krymsk…Now refugees from Lugansk, Donetsk, Slavyansk have appealed to us for help: they have not been scared away by the label ‘foreign agent’, and we are already helping them.
We are defending ourselves, and that means that far from everyone is in agreement with us. We are not like those who are always ready to agree with everyone. We have always supported and continue to support those who have their own voice, their own opinion, their own view of the world. And people support us: we receive hundreds of phone calls and letters: ‘We know you, we believe in you. You are not agents. We don’t agree with that!’
That is the reason we have not stopped actively taking part in the protection of human rights and the defence of public interests, despite the fact that it was for this work that the Union of the Women of Don have been registered as foreign agents.
For twenty years we have been defending the rights of others, and that means we shall be able to stand up for ourselves.
We shall not allow them to exclude us from among those who, with all their heart, with all their strength, serve their country. We shall not allow them to remove us from Russia. Russia is our country.
UNION OF WOMEN OF THE DON IS NOT A FOREIGN AGENT!
Union of Women of the Don
Tel.: (8635) 22-4815
HRO.org in English >