5 April 2022
Statement by the members of the board of Memorial Human Rights Centre
Source: Memorial Human Rights Centre
Today, on 5 April 2022, Memorial Human Rights Centre will be liquidated. There is no doubt about this since the justice system itself has been destroyed in Russia. The courts have been transformed into an instrument of repression against people and civil society associations who are out of favour with the authorities, whether the latter be federal, regional or local.
Memorial Human Rights Centre was founded as a non-governmental organisation and began working at a time when our country was moving away from its totalitarian past. Like many people at that time, we thought what was happening was irreversible. We believed there could be no return to political repression, to the destruction of the freedoms of speech, assembly or association, and to the complete powerlessness of the individual before government officials, ‘law enforcement’ agencies and security services. We had hoped Russia was on its way to freedom and that this road – though long and hard – would lead towards democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights.
We were wrong. It turns out that a return to the totalitarian past is possible and it is happening right now, before the eyes of the whole world. Russia has once again shown mankind a ‘special path’ – one that should not be followed.
The fault is ours too. We knew that the fight for freedom was not over, that upholding one’s own rights and the rights of everyone else is work that must be done every day, a task for everyone who cares about Russia’s future. And yet we failed to convince Russian society. Nor have we succeeded in convincing our fellow citizens that our country should be free and modern, that in the search for a glorious future we should not repeat the past, turning Russia into a backwater, an isolated reservation based on restrictive conservative attitudes. And consequently the country, which believed in the promises of ‘greatness,’ has been brought to its knees.
But inspite of everything, we are convinced that the movement to advance people’s rights will not be crushed. After all, the Russian liberation movement has been in existence for more than a century and will continue, despite the obstacles put in its path. Sooner or later, Russia will be free.
Translated by Simon Cosgrove