Dear friends and colleagues !
In early August 2007 we learned that the International Youth Human Rights Movement (YHRM) had been declared "inactive" and has been deprived of its status as a legal entity by a court decision in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia on the demand of the Federal Registration Service. The decision was taken on June 13, yet the Coordination Council of YHRM learned abut it only by accident, almost a month and a half later, since the court nor the registration service had notified us.
We would like to state that we definitely are not going to stop our work. At the same time any kind of support from our partners and friends would be appreciated.
The history of Youth Human Rights Movement starts in 1998, with a small group of activists. At the present moment, YHRM unites more than 1000 young human rights defenders, environmental and civic activists, teachers and trainers on human rights education from Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Armenia, Georgia, Italy, France, Germany and other countries. Among YHRM achievements (together with different partners in Russia, the CIS and Europe) there are educational programs for thousands of young people, hundreds of legal consultations for youth etc. Currently several leading representatives of YHRM are Council experts of Europe structures, and YHRM itself actively cooperates with intergovernmental bodies such as the OSCE, the European Commission and other international institutions.
What does that mean ?
The YHRM case is typical and symptomatic, it reflects negative tendencies in relation to freedom of association (the right to create organizations, unions etc) in Russia and some other NIS countries. The logic of the much criticized changes to the Russian legislation on NGOs leads to the reproduction of such absurd situations, when functioning organizations are declared “inactive”, “inoperative”, deprived of their status as a legal entity and their work is disturbed. Both in Nizhny Novgorod and in Russia in general this case is one of many similar ones, which have been repeating over the last three-four months. Most of the closed organizations are absolutely alive and working, but in their work they touch topics, that are sensitive for the authorities (human rights, environment protection, antifascism, electoral rights, rights of consumers etc). Intervention by the Federal Registration Service, based on the new legislation, disturbs their work.
What we are going to do :
- keep working ;
- appeal against the illegal decision and pursue the restoration of the organization’s legal status ;
- continue collecting information on the illegal closing of NGOs and render different kinds of support within the Program “For Freedom of Association” ;
- participate and coordinate systematic actions aimed at changing “the rules of the game” (legislature, practice, policy, etc) in connection to basic human rights critical for the development of a civil society, not only in Russia but in the NIS as well.
WE URGE YOU TO SUPPORT THE INTERNATIONAL YOUTH HUMAN RIGHTS MOVEMENT !!!
How you can participate :
1. As a sign of solidarity, you can join YHRM individually, as a group/organization or open a YHRM branch in your country. (To join - please visit : http://www.yhrm.org/eng/join/, for details on how to open a branch please contact email@example.com).
2. Send us a letter of support in your national language and/or in English. This is important for us not only because of your encouragement, but also as evidence for the court to prove that we in fact “exist” and are known to people and organizations in many different countries ! You can do this by fax +7-4732-545530 or by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .
3. Translate this text into your national language and disseminate it widely in your community, country and regions, among friends, partners, journalists, on web-sites and blogs (you can also use banners in English http://defence.yhrm.org/newsdef_other/bnr/), asking them to join our solidarity campaign ! Distribute information about this case and about the situation with fundamental freedoms in Russia and NIS as widely as possible !
4. Along with all other actions you can also organize solidarity actions with International YHRM and in support of the independent civil society actors in Russia (near Russian embassies and other representations of the Russian Federation in your country). Please give notice of your activities to the Solidarity working group at email@example.com, so we will know about them and inform others.
5. You can, if you wish, render financial or any other support to YHRM. It is possible to do either through Webmoney E907697182726, Z878302509696, R179608645089 or through (a/our ??) bank account (please contact us for details).
6. Join the working group for the Defense of Civil Society in the NIS (firstname.lastname@example.org) !!! YHRM is not the first and unfortunately not the last organization which faces this kind of pressure and only our joint efforts can prevent new problems.
7. If you have any other ideas about what can be done, please contact us at the Solidarity working group :