New online project reveals the working lives of Russia's human rights defenders

posted 30 Nov 2015, 01:48 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 30 Nov 2015, 01:55 ]
20 November 2015

Source: (info)
Yesterday the International Youth Human Rights Movement and the human rights organisation Citizens Watch (St Petersburg) released a new website, Human rights defenders, containing videos showing the daily lives of Russia's human rights activists in conditions of risk and government restrictions.

As the Committee for the Prevention of Torture reports, the start of the project is timed to coincide with the third anniversary of the entering into force of the amendment to the law “On non-profit organisations” (NGOs), thanks to which the register of NGOs “carrying out the functions of a foreign agent” was created. Organisations included in this register are obliged to label all their publications to the effect that they are published by a “foreign agent”.

The new website Human Rights Defenders contains videos, photos and interviews highlighting the reality of the lives of human rights activists. These materials present a rare opportunity to observe the life, leisure time and work of staff, activists, and volunteers of Russia’s human rights organisations.

The project opens with a video chronicle from the life of the Civic Assistance Committee (Moscow) and the Komi Memorial Human Rights Commission (Syktyvar).

In December viewers will be able to see videos about the working life of a number of other human rights organisations, including the Youth Human Rights Movement (MPD), the Committee for the Prevention of Torture (Nizhny Novgorod) and the Soldiers’ Mothers of St Petersburg.

The online resource demonstrates the diversity of work in the sphere of human rights NGOs: from searching the archives for information about victims of Soviet repression to providing assistance for drug addicts. From the website visitors will be able to find out, among other things, about how assistance is provided for people seeking asylum in Russia, how torture in police stations and in prisons is investigated, and how educational projects for children, young people and prison officers are developed in the field of human rights,

In choosing the format for the project its creators concluded that documentary films enable the most objective approach in presenting the work of human rights defenders. During filming the video film group tried not to get involved in events, but to take on the role of outside observer. The results are a series of short video clips on a number of episodes from the lives of human rights NGOs. In editing the films, the project’s authors have tried to leave to one side their own assessments and feelings.

Translated by Frances Robson