Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cinema for Human Rights, Vilnius 1-8 July

An international group of supporters of Khadijat and Malik Gataev as well as of their children have organized the film festival in Vilnius to raise public awareness in Lithuania for human rights and to remind politicians of Lithuania about the obligation to comply to the norms of the membership in the European Union.

Pirjo Honkasalo is going to screen “Three Rooms of Melancholia”, and other directors present will be Aki Kaurismäki (Finland), Arto Halonen (Finland), Andrey Nekrasov (Russia), Nikolay Olejnikov (Russia) and Linda Jablonska (Czechia).

The chair of the Subcommittee on the Human Rights at the European Parliament, MEP Heidi Hautala (Finland) will also attend the festival.


In June 2009 Khadijat and Malik Gataev were sentenced to 10 months jail.

The time has come to stand up not only for the freedom of Khadijat and Malik but for their good name. The case as a whole has totally lacked transparency. Also, the security police of Lithuania has harrassed and threatened those -- like some of the foster children -- who have expressed support for gataevs and who have been willing to testify for them in court.

Before their arrest in Kaunas in October 2008, the Gataevs ran two orphanages, one in Grozny, Chechnya, and one in Kaunas. The work of Khadijat and Malik Gataev has been documented in various ways:

* Anna Politkovskaya wrote about “Rodnaya Semya” orphanage which became home for more than sixty children.

* Khadijat Gatayeva and some of the orphans appear in the prize-winning documentary film “Three Rooms of Melancholia”, directed by Pirjo Honkasalo.

* Gatayeva is the central figure in the book “The Angel of Grozny” by the Norwegian journalist, Åsne Seierstad.

* Recently killed Natalya Estemirova, a Chechen human rights defender and a journalist, was one of those who didn't turn away from Khadijat and Malik at the time of an odd investigation and the consequent court trial that lacked transparency. One of the last Estemirova's articles published in the Novaya Gazeta was about the abduction of Gatayev's foster son, Malik Utsaev, in Grozny. He disappeared in Chechnya at the same time when his parents were arrested in Kaunas.

Khadijat and Malik Gataev had rescued orphans from the ruins of Grozny since the first war broke out in Chechnya. They took custody of the first children in 1996 when hostilities ceased. Khadijat was raised in an orphanage herself. It was her main motivation to take care of the children abandoned by the war.

The festival will support the work of Khadijat and Malik Gataev, and pay homage to Anna Politkovskaya and Natalya Estemirova.

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Please find the program of the festival in here.