NATALIA ESTEMIROVA’s tragic death: Are we doing enough to support Human Rights defenders?

Much as I need to write and like to blog, sometimes it’s difficult to find the time and the motivation to post, especially because it is not possible to have an original perspective or a deep understanding about all issues and the internet is already full of common sense remarks about everything. But something got my attention and reminded me of the usefulness of blogs to raise awareness about issues which are important devoting our attention to.

Наташа 047Last Tuesday, 15 July, Natalia Estemirova was abducted in front of her home in Grozny, Chechnya. Her dead body was found a few hours later. A Human Rights activist working for the NGO Memorial, she dedicated her life to investigating and denouncing Human Rights violations in Chechnya. Her assassination follows a pattern of eliminating dissident voices in Russia, with a level of impunity so high that not even the fact that some of the victims of such policy benefited from international recognition protected them.

One year ago, I met a Russian Human Rights activist, who gave me an account of the political situation in Russia and on how it was becoming increasingly difficult for them to work, especially after the aproval of the Russian NGO Law. As I was particularly interested in the situation in Chechnya, and complained about the lack of accurate information about it, which I thought was the outcome of the option to make access to the region as difficult and risky as possible, she gave me the contact of a friend who she said could provide me with more information and possibly useful contacts. Her friend was Natalia Estemirova. I never did send her an email. I wrote one, but kept it on my drafts to send it in an appropriate moment in the future.

On the reply to my condolences, my russian friend enphasised the goal to keep working in Chechenya and with the Chechen people, but despite her determination, her tone was of deep sadness and frustration, as it is so obvious where the orders for this murder came from.

Natalia Estemirova’s tragic death should make us think whether we do enough to support people like her, who risk their lives so bravely to document and denounce Human Rights abuses. As citizens of the EU, we have the power to pressure our leaders, however, we are clearly failing to do so, and if we look at the evolution of the relationship between EU and key EU member states and Russia, it is appalling to see how the issue of Human Rights gets sidelined.

Every time something like this horrible murder happens, Russia becomes poorer, and so does the world. I’m sorry that people like myself, who are aware, do not do more to support those who take serious risks to defend Human Rights. I guess we are too caught up on our small problems or too busy enjoying our comfortable lies or complaining about meaningless things.

Note: the photo was taken at a tribute to Natalia Estemirova held in St. Petersburg on 16 July and sent to me by my russian friend.

10 Comments

Filed under Chechnya, Russia

10 responses to “NATALIA ESTEMIROVA’s tragic death: Are we doing enough to support Human Rights defenders?

  1. Owen

    You picked the right subject to come back with. When Putin and Kadyrov proclaim their respect for women, we know exactly what they mean. In the post-Gorbachev era we got an early warning with the murder of Galina Starovoitova.

    And outside Russia we were served explicit notice when the legislation was passed permitting the Russian secret services to assassinate targets on foreign soil. From the Litvinenko case we’ve seen how meaningless the concept of respect for the rule of law is to these people.

    In her life and death Natalya Estemirova commanded our respect, like those other heroic souls in Russia who are unlikely to let her death deter them. The cowardly men responsible for killing her, ordering her death or guaranteeing the impunity of those responsible truly deserve our contempt.

  2. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Russia: Did Kadyrov kill Estemirova?

  3. It’s remarkable how blase much of the world is regarding the realization that Russia has reverted to its autocratic ways, despite hopes of democratization post-Cold War. I cannot imagine how much courage this woman had.

  4. Pingback: Official Russia | Russia: Did Kadyrov kill Estemirova?

  5. This is a symbol of Russia’s incremental steps toward autocratic control. Hopefully, her murder will bring more attention to her cause, already the press is beginning to address her death: http://www.newsy.com/videos/fighting_for_human_rights_with_life

  6. OFF Topic, breaking news:

    Two Serb war criminals received Life Sentence and 30 years imprisonment for burning Bosniak women and children alive. Unfortunately, the Prosecution made mistake and failed to include rape charges against them.

    Milan Lukic and Sredoje Lukic are from Rujiste village, located near the border with Srebrenica municipality.

    Please write a word or two about these monsters on your blog. Thank you!

  7. Owen

    Sarah, I hope that you’ll keep us posted if your Russian friend hears news of any developments in the case.

  8. Sarah Correia

    Thank you for the comment, Owen. For now I don’t have any more news about that but I intend to write more about the issue of human rights defenders in Russia after I move to Norway, which will happen very soon.

    (I’ve erased the duplicated comment)

  9. Owen

    Thanks, Sarah.

  10. Owen

    Article about Natasha Estemirova by her friend Tanya Lokshina of Human Rights Watch:

    http://www.opendemocracy.net/russia/article/natalia-estemirova-champion-of-ordinary-chechens