Criticism = extremism in Russia

Här kommer mera rapporter och nyheter om den ryska regeringens olika brott mot mänskliga rättigheter. Och hur de ”trakasserar” allt och alla som försöker protestera.

Och om användandet av klusterbomber i Georgien:

http://hrw.org/english/docs/2008/08/20/georgi19660.htm

Georgia: Civilians Killed by Russian Cluster Bomb ‘Duds’

More Attacks Confirmed; Unexploded Ordnance Threatens Many

(Tbilisi, August 21, 2008 ) – Georgian and Russian authorities should take urgent measures to protect the civilian population in Georgian villages from unexploded ordnance left by Russian attacks, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch researchers documented additional Russian cluster munitions attacks during the conflict in Georgia, refuting Russia’s earlier denials that it used the weapon.

Human Rights Watch researchers saw and photographed unexploded submunitions from cluster munitions in and around the villages of Shindisi, in the Gori district of Georgia. Residents from Shindisi and the nearby Pkhvenisi village told Human Rights Watch researchers there are hundreds of unexploded submunitions in the area. Submunition ”duds” are highly dangerous and can explode if picked up or otherwise disturbed. 

”Many people have died because of Russia‘s use of cluster munitions in Georgia, even as Moscow denied it had used this barbaric weapon,” said Marc Garlasco, senior military analyst at Human Rights Watch. ”Many more people could be killed or wounded unless Russia allows professional demining organizations to enter at once to clean the affected areas.” 

Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that on August 8, 2008, Russian air strikes on Georgian armored units located near Shindisi and Pkhvenisi were followed by extensive cluster munition strikes that killed at least one civilian and injured another in Shindisi. At least two more civilians were killed and five wounded in the following days when they handled unexploded submunitions, including an incident 10 days after the initial strikes. As of August 20, Shindisi and Pkhvenisi areas remain under Russian control.

Zviad Geladze, 38, points to a cluster munition strike on the path to his farm field.

Human Rights Watch called upon Russia to immediately stop using cluster munitions, weapons so dangerous to civilians that more than 100 nations have agreed to ban their use. Human Rights Watch also called on Russia to provide precise strike data on its cluster attacks in order to facilitate cleanup of areas contaminated by submunitions. Human Rights Watch called on Georgia to undertake an immediate risk education program for its population, including radio and television announcements about the dangers of submunitions.

In Shindisi, Human Rights Watch researchers saw unexploded dual purpose (anti-armor and antipersonnel) submunitions, commonly known as Dual-Purpose Improved Conventional Munition (DPICM) submunitions.

”Highly dangerous unexploded bomblets now litter farms, roads, and pathways in Shindisi and Pkhvenisi,” said Garlasco. ”People remaining in these areas don’t realize the dangers these submunitions pose and are at serious risk of injury or death if they handle, or even approach, the bomblets.”

Human Rights Watch first reported on Russian use of cluster munitions in Georgia on August 15, after it identified strikes on Gori and Ruisi on August 12 that killed at least 11 civilians and injured dozens more. Russia subsequently denied any use of cluster munitions. Colonel General Anatoly Nogovitsyn, deputy head of the Russian General Staff, stated on August 15, ”We did not use cluster bombs, and what’s more, there was absolutely no necessity to do so.” 

Zura Tatrishvili, 62, showed Human Rights Watch researchers an unexploded submunition that he had picked up without realizing that just touching it could make it explode. ”We were playing with them, as were the Georgian soldiers,” said Tatrishvili. ”It was only when one of the bombs exploded after a soldier threw it that we understood that they were dangerous.” Even now, Tatrishvili continues to keep his livestock in a pen with unexploded submunitions, demonstrating the need for clearance as well as education.

Georgia. These submunition ”duds” are highly dangerous and can explode if picked up or otherwise disturbed

During the attack on August 8 in Shindisi, Vano Gogidze, 45, was killed and his relative, Dato Gogidze, 39, was injured. Also in Shindisi, Ramaz Arabashvili, 40, was killed and four people were wounded when a submunition that they had gathered from a field exploded on August 10. On August 18, in Pkhvenisi, Veliko Bedianashvili, 70, died when a submunition exploded in his hand. ”There are so many of these lying around. The fields are full of them,” said his son, Durmiskhan Bedianashvili.

Zviad Geladze, 38, showed Human Rights Watch researchers fields contaminated with submunitions. He estimated the submunitions covered an area extending at least one kilometer through his farm. The fields are full of produce ready to harvest. Because humanitarian agencies continue to lack access to much of the Gori region, fields like Geladze’s may provide residents of the region with their only food source.

Cluster munitions contain dozens or hundreds of smaller submunitions or bomblets and cause unacceptable humanitarian harm in two ways. First, their broad-area effect kills and injures civilians indiscriminately during strikes. Second, many submunitions do not explode, becoming de facto landmines that cause civilian casualties for months or years to come. 

Under international humanitarian law, indiscriminate attacks including attacks in populated areas with weapons that cannot be targeted solely at military targets are prohibited. Russia has an obligation not only to cease any such attacks, but also to take all necessary measures now to ensure the safety of the civilian population in areas over which it exercises effective control.

Human Rights Watch called on Georgia, which is known to have cluster munitions in its stockpiles, to join the international move to ban the use of cluster munitions and to publicly undertake not to use such weapons in this conflict. Human RIghts Watch has also called on Russia to join the convention. Neither Russia nor Georgia was part of the Oslo Process launched in February 2007 to develop a new international treaty banning cluster munitions. In May 2008, 107 nations adopted the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which comprehensively bans the use, production, trade and stockpiling of the weapon. It will be open for signature in Oslo on December 3.

Och här mera om förföljelsen av oliktänkande – i det här fallet en bloggare:

http://hrw.org/english/docs/2008/07/14/russia19346.htm

Läs även andra bloggares åsikter om http://bloggar.se/om/Fri-+och+r%E4ttigheter” rel=”tag”>Fri- och rättigheter</a>, <a href=”http://bloggar.se/om/Yttrandefrihet.” rel=”tag”>Yttrandefrihet.</a>

Criticism = extremism

By , published in New Statesman

July 11, 2008

By Matthew Schaaf, a consultant for Human Rights Watch

Speech critical of the government, considered undesirable by the authorities, or which might incite ”conflict,” has increasingly fallen prey to Russia’s vague anti-extremism law.

Earlier this week, Savva Terentyev, an obscure musician and blogger from Russia’s northern republic of Komi, became the first individual to be convicted of extremism on the basis of a comment left in a blog.

Terentyev received a one-year suspended sentence for a ranting criticism of the police, in which he, using a rhetorical flourish, called for burning bad cops twice daily in the central square of every Russian city. 

The judge ruled that Terentyev had used the media intentionally to incite hatred and hostility, and that he had humiliated policemen as a ”social group.” 

Terentyev’s comment was by any measure offensive. However, it was hardly a credible call to violence. It was appended to someone else’s blog posting, and was deleted shortly after it was written. The authorities simply didn’t like Terentyev’s criticism, so they decided to stretch the law to send a warning to other would-be critics – not even the web can offer refuge, so be careful what you say, we are watching you and we will get you. 

Vigorous efforts to combat extremism are understandable in light of the alarming growth in attacks and nationalistic, racist or religious motivated violence in Russia. Russian authorities, however, have also increasingly used the extremism law’s vague provisions to stitch together criminal cases against strident and opinionated critics, people venting steam, and the political opposition, on and off-line. 

Shutting down critical and unfriendly speech is happening with increased frequency in Russia today. For the last few years the authorities have tried to close down Ingushetiya.ru, a website affiliated with the political opposition in the small North Caucasus republic of Ingushetia. In November 2007, visitors to the site, which was attempting to provide news of a planned protest against human rights abuses, were forwarded to a porn website. This innovative strategy backfired however, and provoked a wave of indignation directed at the government. The authorities then chose to take the ”rule of law” approach. The prosecutor’s office alleged that some materials published on Ingushetiya.ru, particularly an interview with an opposition leader sharply critical of the president, included extremist content. On this basis, in June 2008, a Moscow court ruled to have the website closed down for disseminating extremist materials. Ingushetiya.ru is currently appealing this ruling and meanwhile continues to operate. 

In other cases, prosecutors have sent warnings about alleged involvement in extremism to newspapers that write about religious and ethnic conflicts. Government agencies that oversee NGOs have ”audited” human rights organizations for signs of extremism, and in one case, even issued an official non-extremist certificate to one which passed the dubious test. Gay rights groups cannot register officially because promoting gay and lesbian rights is viewed as extremism. One gay rights group was recently called in for an ”audit” by the organised crime department of the police. The insidious aim and cumulative effect of these extremism ”audits” is clear: to keep citizens from speaking out. 

Even art is not immune from spurious claims of extremism. Yuri Samodurov, director of the Andrei Sakharov Museum in Moscow is being charged with inciting religious hatred for hosting the provocative exhibit ”Forbidden Art-2006,” a compilation of art banned from museums and galleries in Moscow in 2006. Visitors to the exhibition had to make a special effort to view it: each piece could be viewed only through a peephole in a curtain with the work’s title hung in front if it.

The prosecution of Terentyev and others on dubious extremism charges can serve only one purpose: to silence them. The stifling and pernicious effect of the anti-extremism law and its use against critical bloggers, commentators, and artists is palpable. As one blogger pointed out during a heated debate in the wake of Terentyev’s conviction, ”This concerns all of us!” Now that ranting on a blog is considered ”mass communication,” bloggers are warning that they have got to watch out for themselves.

There is a simple answer if you don’t like the criticism: stay away from the web, cover your ears, and don’t go near the curtain. But criticism of the government or debate about controversial issues is not extremist activity, but rather a normal and vital feature of a plural democratic society. A responsible government however, will listen to its citizens’ concerns and criticisms, rather than tell them to shut up.

Och här mera om hur man systematiskt trakasserar Olika civila organisationer som försöker hålla koll på de ryska myndigheterna:

http://hrw.org/english/docs/2008/02/21/russia18120.htm

Rapporten finns här: http://hrw.org/reports/2008/russia0208/russia0208webwcover.pdf

Putin’s crackdown on NGOs

By Tom Porteous, London Director, Human Rights Watch, published in New Statesman Online

February 21, 2008

”An election is more than what happens on election day,” goes the expression – and it seems particularly apposite to Russia in the lead up to the presidential elections on 2 March. In the past eight years the government of president Vladimir Putin has weakened, almost beyond recognition, most of the essential elements that underpin a healthy democracy.

All Russia’s major democratic institutions remain in place, but they have been largely emptied of real capacity to serve as a check on the Kremlin’s power. The news media have been neutered: independent TV and radio have been all but destroyed and the independent press severely curtailed. The parliamentary opposition in the Duma has been marginalized. Direct election of regional governors has been abolished. The independence of the judiciary has, through various means, been seriously compromised. 

All this has been prominently reported in the international media. Less well known is the extent to which the Kremlin has deliberately gone about stifling another essential pillar of a vibrant and successful democracy: independent nongovernmental organisations.

In a report published this week, Human Rights Watch documents how Putin’s government has in recent years sharply turned the screw on Russia‘s vibrant civil society that emerged from the glasnost era. The report, Choking on Bureaucracy, tells the depressing but familiar story of an authoritarian government using a combination of red tape and arbitrary intimidation to curtail the efforts of grassroots social activists to build a better society. 

The main tool has been a 2006 law that gives the government agencies broad authority to regulate the activities of non-governmental organizations. It has used this law – and other measures such as the amended 2002 ”anti-extremism law” – to silence or effectively paralyze critical voices. Particular targets of the Kremlin are those NGOs which work on controversial issues such as human rights, those working in sensitive regions such as the North Caucasus, those that receive foreign funding, and those which seek to galvanize legitimate public dissent. 

The 2006 law grants state officials wide powers to interfere in the setting up and operations of all NGOs. The authorities can reject applications for registration on the pettiest of grounds. The law imposes onerous reporting requirements and allows officials to conduct regular and intrusive inspections, which have been used to harass NGOs. Both can tie down an organisation in weeks or months of paperwork.

In its attack on civil society, the government has not needed to resort to such blunt tactics as mass closings of NGOs or overt censorship. More subtly, though just as effectively and chillingly, it has drowned them in paperwork and bureaucracy, while maintaining veneer of legality. NGOs are free to challenge the warnings and directives which result from inspections, but only at a huge cost to their substantive work. 

One example: throughout much of 2007 the Information Center of the NGO Council, a group that provides daily bulletins on the situation in Chechnya and Ingushetia, was threatened with dissolution by the tax service for being improperly registered and failing to pay back taxes. The organization is challenging a fine for the equivalent of US$ 20,000 imposed by the tax service.

The Kremlin has justified the NGO law on the grounds that it must monitor foreign funding of Russian NGOs. This is something the Kremlin has regarded with great suspicion since the so called ‘colour revolutions’ in Ukraine and Georgia when public uprisings peacefully overturned pro-Moscow governments. Moscow believes those uprisings were spearheaded by foreign funded NGOs.

The Russian government, like any other, has the right to regulate NGOs. But it also has a duty to ensure that any restrictions on NGOs are compatible with Russia’s obligations under international human rights laws that protect freedom of expression and association.

As the Human Rights Watch’s report demonstrates quite clearly, the 2006 NGO law and other restrictive measures used against NGOs by the Russian authorities are in violation of international human rights standards and hinder the effective exercise of basic civil and political rights. 

The 2 March election may be a foregone conclusion. But there is a longer term, and those seeking to salvage Russian democracy should start by challenging the Kremlin’s crackdown on NGOs and speaking up for the rights of Russia’s courageous and vibrant civil society.

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3 svar to “Criticism = extremism in Russia”

  1. North American Union Says:

    If you don’t visit the bad neighborhoods, the bad neighborhoods are going to visit you.ThomasFriedmanThomas Friedman, global analyst for the New York Times

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    […] Journalist Shoot in the Head – By the Police Som ett komplement till mina tidigare inlägg  Criticism = extremism in Russia,  The Russian system is characterized by intimidation and political passivity on the part of […]

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