Friday, September 14, 2007

Violation of the Helsinki Principles. Shame, shame, shame!

(Oksana Chelysheva and Zahar Prilepin in Helsinki in July. Photo: Alex Mnatsakanyan.)

Yesterday I heard from Oksana Chelysheva that the delegation of the USA at OSCE meeting in Vienna had walked out, as a protest against Russian-Chechen Friendship society not allowed to join.

That's cool, USA. Way to go!

(See the label on Istori; "Finnish-Russian Civic Forum". Lots of stuff on Oksana there.)

But what is going on in Nizhny Novgorod, how the NGO's are treated in all over Russia, that's far from anything positive or exciting. That is just brutal and destructive, for the whole civil society. If it excists. I'm not sure about that.

Oops, I'm quite sure the Kremlin does not want to encourage anyone to even think that free and equal civil society would be any goal for those in power in the modern Russia.


The OSCE press release:

Exclusion of Nongovernmental Organizations a Violation of the Helsinki Principles

– Russian delegation insists on excluding an independent group

(Aaron Rhodes in Helsinki, July 2007.)

Vienna, 13 September 2007. The Russian-Chechen Friendship Society was excluded from a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) concerning “Victims of Terrorism” on 13 September 2007, at the behest of the Russian Federation.

According to information received by the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF), the exclusion was made possible by a decision of the current Spanish Chairmanship of the OSCE, despite an earlier agreement that NGO participation would follow the organization’s 1992 rules. The United Stated Delegation to the OSCE left the meeting in protest, and several others expressed their opposition to the decision.

“The IHF strongly objects to this departure from the OSCE's well-established practice of allowing diverse views - even unpopular ones - to be heard,” stated Aaron Rhodes, Executive Director of the IHF. “Civil society participation is what allows the OSCE to be a vivid platform for dialogue about upholding standards and implementing commitments. Some OSCE participating States apparently seek to shield themselves from scrutiny; others acquiesce.”

The IHF urges the OSCE participating States to ensure that future meetings, especially the upcoming annual Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, are organized in accordance with the provisions of the 1992 Helsinki Document. At that time, the participating States committed themselves to opening conferences and seminars to NGOs. Only those advocating violence are to be excluded.

The Russian-Chechen Friendship Society (RCFS) is among the most persecuted civil society organizations in the Russian Federation. Critical of Russian policies in Chechnya while delivering vital humanitarian assistance to victims of the violence there, the organization was closed down in January 2007. The decision was an application of the new NGO law, and based on the “failure” of its chair, Stas Dmitrievsky, to resign from his positions within the RCFS after his conviction for an “extremist” crime and the failure of the RCFS to publicly denounce Dmitrievsky after his politically motivated conviction. The charges against him were brought after the RCFS published appeals by the late Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov and his envoy, Akhmed Zakayev, for a peaceful resolution of the Chechen conflict. Many other media have published such statements.

Aaron Rhodes, IHF Executive Director
Joachim Frank, IHF Project Coordinator


Chelysheva, and Stas Dmitrievsky in Helsinki, May 2007.


Dissident said...

Okey, the action of US diplomats could sometimes be cool in a way, but on the other hand that's only politics. We can make a question: what US is doing in Iraq all the time? Do they allow Iraqi civil organizations take part to the actions concerning Iraq?

I.S. said...

The American leadership should be very ashamed of what they are doing in Iraq. No question about that. Handling one thing right does not mean everything they do is right or even close to ok.

Actually, I was quite surprised the team protesting at the OSCE was USA. But; good for them.