Daniel Ellsberg showing his support for Memorial at the Right Livelihood Award's North American Laureates Conference in Santa Cruz

Right Livelihood Award Laureates stand with Human Rights Centre Memorial

Press releases 14.06.2018

As millions of people today turn their eyes upon Russia for the football World Cup, the most prominent human rights organisation in the country, Memorial, remains under heavy pressure from authorities. Mr. Oyub Titiev, Head of the organisation’s Chechen office, is facing up to 10-years in prison and a large number of North American Right Livelihood Award Laureates are now calling for his release.

Daniel Ellsberg showing his support for Memorial at the Right Livelihood Award Laureates’ Conference in Santa Cruz
Daniel Ellsberg showing his support for Memorial at the Right Livelihood Award Laureates’ Conference in Santa Cruz

“The World Cup presents an important opportunity for FIFA, world leaders and civil society to press Russia to respect its obligations under international human rights law. Russia must allow Human Rights Centre Memorial’s staff to carry out their work without harassment or threats to their freedom and safety” says Fabiana Leibl, Protection & Advocacy Manager at Right Livelihood Award Foundation.

Memorial received the Right Livelihood Award in 2004 for “showing, in traumatic times, the importance of understanding the historical roots of human rights abuse, to secure respect for them in the future.” Owing to its important work documenting human rights abuses, Memorial has been subject to alarming attacks, both to their offices and staff, particularly in the North Caucasus region.

In January, the head of the Chechnya office of Memorial, Oyub Titiev, was arrested on fabricated drug possession charges and put in pre-trial detention. Mr. Titiev now faces the prospect of 10 years’ imprisonment if convicted. His arrest has drawn criticism from across the world. Activists, organisations, and politicians alike have condemned his detention, urging the Russian authorities to release him.

Not long after Oyub Titiev’s arrest, Memorial offices in Nazran, Ingushetia were the target of an arson attack. In March 2018, organizations working in the region reported that unidentified persons physically assaulted Mr. Sirazhutdin Datsiyev, Head of the Human Rights Centre Memorial office in Dagestan.

“Together with many of our laureates, the Right Livelihood Award Foundation urges the Russian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Oyub Titiev and drop all charges against him, to cease the harassment of Memorial’s staff, as well as to guarantee accountability for the attacks against Memorial’s workers and offices”, says Fabiana Leibl.

15 North American Right Livelihood Award Laureates took a stand in support of Human Rights Centre Memorial and Oyub Titiev during a conference in Santa Cruz, California, in May. Their photos will be published on the Foundation’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram channels during the World Cup in Russia.

14 international and Russian human rights groups urge FIFA in an open letter to “call on the Russian authorities and directly on President Putin to immediately and unconditionally release Oyub Titiev, impartially to investigate attacks against Memorial and ensure a safe and enabling environment in which it is possible to defend and promote human rights without fear of punishment, reprisal or intimidation.”

36 Members of the European Parliament has also signed an open letter to FIFA and its President Gianni Infantino:

“We are certain that given its unique position, FIFA and you, Mr Infantino, personally are obliged to make every effort to influence the Russian and Chechen authorities to free Oyub Titiev and thus minimise a scandalous situation when sports is used to hide and legitimise grave human rights violations, such as in the case of today’s Chechnya and Russia.”

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