16 May 2023
Declaration of the International Memorial Association
The International Memorial Society was disbanded by the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation on 28 February 2022. Yet it is impossible to disband Memorial, just as it is impossible to prohibit a person from thinking and remembering. Because Memorial is not just an organisation and not just a civic movement. Memorial is first and foremost those people all over the world who share the same values and who want to know the truth about their tragic past. And so Memorial continued to be active. On 16 May 2023, 15 Memorial organisations from nine countries formalised this activity in legal terms and founded, in Geneva (Switzerland), the International Memorial Association, the official successor of the International Memorial Society with its over 35 years of history.
As before, Memorial will strive to promote the values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law and uphold the priority of the rights of the individual in political practice and public life. The Association will continue to investigate, document and appraise all phenomena of political violence committed in the past and present on the territory of the former USSR and the countries affected by the crimes of Soviet and post-Soviet regimes. By turning to the history of terror and resistance to unfreedom, Memorial will fight for the observance of human rights and for the formation and consolidation of civil societies and democratic, law-governed states, and it will strive to prevent the return of dictatorial regimes.
One of the symptoms of this return are the armed conflicts and wars of aggression in the post-Soviet space – the apotheoses of human rights infringement on a mass scale. This is the source of Memorial’s explicit anti-war stance. In the conflicts of the past we are always opposing the accomplices of state terror and supporting the freedom fighters. In the conflicts of the present we are always opposing the aggressor and supporting those who oppose aggression.
Another key symptom of the return to dictatorship is an attitude that considers the state to be the highest value and people to be disposable. We are once again witnessing, in different countries, a struggle against dissident thinking, attempts at suppressing freedom of expression and subdue the judiciary, and a revival of repressive practices.
The events of recent times show that not only has the totalitarian past not been overcome, it is also capable of dangerous relapses that threaten security and freedom in Europe and the entire world.
Without deep reflection on the tragic experience of the history of communist dictatorships and resistance in the USSR and other countries of the “socialist camp” there can be no effective opposition to political persecution and no effective policy of opposing military aggression and attempts to solve political issues by violence.
The mission of the International Memorial Association is based on the assertion that human life and freedom have priority over all other social values and on the primacy of the rule of law. As a result, Memorial’s work in the field of historical education is inextricably entwined with its human rights activities.
Such an understanding will enable the international public to more successfully support the restoration of democratic institutions and civic liberties in post-Soviet societies, where these institutions have either been destroyed or weakened or never formed, so as not to permit the future rebirth (in any form and under any ideological cloak) of militarism, revanchism and aggressive chauvinism in the social, political and cultural life of Europe.
The evil that Memorial opposes is international, while the mission and values of Memorial are universal. Because of this Memorial will bring together like-minded people from different countries.
translation: Josephine von Zitzewitz