ISHR-Eastern Partnership (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine) and Russia/EAP/R 2020

Annual review by Dr. Carmen Krusch-Grün. The opinions of the relevant Eap/R-ISHR sections can, may and should differ in detail.

The end of the year is always a turning point, especially a time to “hold” back”. And as much as you want to avoid it, you may not be able to hear it at all, there is no avoiding it: It was a strange, difficult year. A year that we all will definitely remember fondly.

In the article Corona in Germany, the world and human rights, I answered the very simple first question of many international colleagues: “And what about you?” This report was linked to the Internet survey as to whether Corona could perhaps bring about a boost for human rights? The absolute majority answered this question with “No”.

Of course, meetings in person were canceled, and so it hit almost 20 colleagues right at the beginning , who were almost in their planes for the international council meeting in early March.

 

The interim conference on the fair trials monitoring project of the ISHR section Ukraine with funding from the German BMZ at the end of March was also a direct, albeit slightly cushioned, consequence. Here, more than 250 court hearings throughout the Ukraine are accompanied, recorded and checked against European norms and standards by trained young lawyers. How was the accused arrested, what are his conditions of detention, what rights does he have in court …? At the interim conference, the results should be presented and discussed in documentation. High representatives of the Ukrainian jurisprudence had agreed, as well as corresponding German law luminaries, Prof. von Gall and Prof. Kadelbach and the chairman of the German-Ukrainian parliamentary group in the Bundestag, Omid Nouripour. We would like to thank everyone for their commitment to participate. Our respect goes to the Ukrainian section, which created excellent annual documentation for 2019 (EN / UKR / RU) and, despite Corona, continued monitoring under strict hygienic conditions and is currently still doing it!

In the spring we tried with this somewhat atypical article “Does Corona interfere with Putin’s New Coup d’ État?” to use the time of the Corona-related postponement of the vote on constitutional reform in Russia to campaign for a “No” vote. The policy of frightening the Russian population, which I described in a slightly prosaic way in the article “Politika Sapugivaniya” with many travel pictures, is currently, as feared, more and more attracted, so that we can unfortunately promise to report on it in more detail next year .

 

Although we have repeatedly referred to it as a “seething volcano” for 30 years, it hit us all like a big blow on July 12th: New battles between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The article goes into the history and development of the conflict in an easily understandable way and ends with the following words: “But whether it is a random, self- or externally controlled skirmish, every further drop of blood now increases the danger of a war between Azerbaijan and Armenia and with their respective ones Allies of Turkey and Russia… Why do young, modern and educated people demonstrate for war? The fact that in 2020 in Azerbaijan thousands of people will take to the streets with their young people and demand this war and Armenia together with its young people hold against it uncompromisingly, makes shudderingly clear that the “mere freezing of conflicts”, without broad and intensive peace-building measures, is a lazy and reprehensible compromise!”.

And I hardly dare to say what follows: “The war in eastern Ukraine, the beginnings of which we can all well remember on the Siberian-wintry and soot-smoking “Maidan”, will soon enter the EIGHTH year! I am ashamed. Over 13,000 Ukrainians died from bombs, mines and targeted fatal shots, including thousands of civilians and 150 children. Over 30,000 wounded and almost 2 million war refugees! 220,000 Ukrainian children in the middle of Europe have to learn from an early age to use mines and duds in order not to be injured while playing outside or on the way to school. “We are nothing more than lepers. We are ostracized by the people on the other side and no one knows about the hell we are going through, “ so a Ukrainian pensioner from Donetsk. We are all the more pleased that we can warmly welcome a new assistant to our team in the form of a young student, born in Lugansk!

My greatest thanks at the end of the year always go straight to this extraordinary and unique ISHR-EaP/R team. Only this team was able to realize this film project under the circumstances of this year, which could not have been more difficult. Because just as so much went under helplessly this year, so did the end of the Second World War 75 years ago, which was so important for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Our common heartfelt thanks go to the German Foreign Office, which supported this project as part of the EaP/R funding program to expand cooperation with civil society! The short film “Tell me something about the war” is intended to stimulate the value discourse, especially among young people. Because for us, free discussion and our own opinion-forming are pillars of democratic societies.

In this review, we would also like to draw your attention to the annual journal of the German section of the ISHR, which is able to surprise and convince with its variety of information from ISHR human rights work worldwide! On the front page you can see our board member Nasrin Sotoudeh, the symbolic figure of the Iranian civil rights and international human rights movement.

And we would not be the ISHR if, at the end of our review, we did not call for a concrete action.

To be honest, we were all amazed and fascinated when we saw the images of tens of thousands of Belarusian protesters on the screens in the height of this summer! The first slightly sleepy reports have long since

Maria Kolesnykova with the heart, Svetlana Tikhanoskaya with fist and Veronica Zepkalo with victory symbol, © election poster in Minsk, July 2020.

turned into daily horror reports that we can hardly keep up with. In this respect, our last appeal  “Please write to the political prisoners in Belarus!”  In the article you will find a dozen specific addresses out of hundreds and hundreds of peaceful Belarusian citizens who were locked away by Lukashenko in order to silence them in order to bleed the Belarusian peaceful civil movement to death.

Take a few minutes at the peaceful end of the year and write to a political prisoner in Belarus. A small postcard – a great sign of the admirable citizens’ movement. Belarusian Orthodox Christmas is not on December 24th, but on January 7th. So there is still enough time! We would like to thank you in advance for this and that you are a warming light of hope with your interest and commitment to human rights! We sincerely wish you to experience this extraordinary end of the year as relaxed as possible and to regain strength.

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, 13.12.2020. Berlin, Gendarmen Market, photo: Leh

Your ISHR team from Baku, Brest, Chisinau, Frankfurt, Yerevan, Kiev, Moscow and Tbilisi

 Dr. Carmen Krusch-Grün ISHR, German Section

Eastern Europe Departement