Solidarity with Memorial
Russia’s most prominent civil rights group in danger
Russia's Justice Ministry recently labeled the international branch of the human rights group Memorial as a “foreign agent”. Memorial needs your solidarity and financial help to pay for judicial assistance to defend itself against this egregious stigmatisation.
The freedoms of speech and assembly and the work of independent civil society organisations have been curtailed in Russia for several years. Critical voices are marginalised as being “non-Russian”. Non-conformist NGOs receiving international support are branded as “foreign agents” and have to declare themselves as such. The concept and practice of self-accusation are in the direct tradition of Stalinist persecution and are an assault on the dignity of man.
To date, this form of state repression has hit more than 140 organisations, including representatives of small indigenous people in the north of Russia, associations like Women on the Don, environmental groups like EcoDefense, the refugee organisation Civic Assistance created by Svetlana Gannushkina, laureate of the Alternative Nobel Peace Prize 2016, or the renowned Levada social research centre. Most recently, persecution has reached the International Memorial Society, the umbrella organisation of the Memorial network, after the previous individual targeting of five of its 60 member organisations. The democratic social development of Russia is inconceivable without free working conditions for independent civil society organisations like Memorial. Memorial is a cornerstone of Russian civil society.
Memorial was founded in 1988, in the years of Gorbachev’s perestroika. From the beginning, the organisation set itself the task of dealing with the terror and systemic structures of the Stalinist dictatorship and the Gulag, to help victims of political persecution, seek their rehabilitation and increase their visibility in Russia and abroad. This is a precondition for the enforcement of and compliance with human rights today, which Memorial is advocating in an exemplary way. For Memorial, an open debate on the Soviet past, based on the quest for truth, is a fundamental step towards making Russian society more open and democratic. At the same time, it is impossible to deal with the totalitarian past of the Soviet Union and Russia without pointing out today’s human rights violations.
The work of Memorial is not limited to Russia. By documenting the fate of hundreds of thousands of Soviet men and women deported to Germany for forced labour during World War II, Memorial has given an essential impulse to the political debate in German, making it possible to enforce compensation claims for the victims. At the same time, Memorial has highlighted the deportation of more than 7000 innocent women and men after World War II from the Soviet occupation zone in Germany to the USSR, where they were executed. In close cooperation with Polish historians, Memorial has also published seminal research shedding light on the Katyn massacre. Several Memorial experts have received Polish awards for their work. These are just a few examples of a great list of achievements, guided by the aim of a free and democratic Europe in which Russia also finds its place.
Over 25 years, Memorial has built up a unique archive compiling the witnesses and legacies of tens of thousands of people who became victims of terror and repression. This collection is an incomparable documentation of human suffering, human assertiveness and human resistance. Memorial’s building in Moscow houses a part of the cultural legacy of mankind. Memorial has also carried out comprehensive research work and published biographical reference books and source editions on the history of Stalinism and the USSR. This work is widely recognised in the academic world. With public exhibitions on the history of the Gulag, Memorial is also reaching wider audiences in Russia and European neighbour countries.
With its school history competition “Man and History – Russia in the 20th Century”, Memorial has collected more than 30,000 essays from pupils from all over Russia over the past 15 years. These essays give Russian children and youngsters a unique and personal voice and make up an important contribution to an authentic culture of remembrance in Russia.
The Human Rights Centre of Memorial is also one of the most important independent sources of information in Russia on the situation in the North Caucasus, particularly Chechnya, the Donbass and Crimea after the Russian annexation. Memorial scrupulously documents the human rights situation in Russia today and also keeps a list of political prisoners based on international criteria.
Last but not least, the national network of Memorial - especially the Memorial Centres in Moscow - are an indispensable catalyst for mutual civil society support and democratic social debate in Russia and the whole post-Soviet space.
Memorial needs our support and solidarity – as we need Russian voices defending truth and human rights.
We declare our solidarity with Memorial and all the forces in Russia standing for a policy of non-violence, openness and peace in Russia and abroad.
We call for financial donations for Memorial under the reference “For the Work of Memorial” to the trust account:
Name: Memorial International
Bank: GLS Gemeinschaftsbank eG
Account: 130 227 27
IBAN: DE 89 4306 0967 0013 0227 27
Donations are tax-deductible in Germany and possibly beyond (please check local tax laws) and will be transferred in full to Memorial with no administrative costs.
Dr. Gleb J. Albert, Zürich; Dr. Jaromir Balcar, Berlin; Prof. habil. Bernhard H. Bayerlein, Bochum; Prof. em. Dr. Dietrich Beyrau, Tübingen; Marieluise Beck, Bremen; Lukas Beckmann, Bochum/Berlin; Marianne Birthler, Berlin; Prof. Dr. Timm Beichelt, Frankfurt/Oder; Dr. Ivo Bock, Bremen; René Böll, Köln; Elke Braun, Berlin; Reinhard Bütikofer, Brüssel; Štĕpán Černoušek, Prag; Viola von Cramon, Göttingen; Prof. Dr. Dittmar Dahlmann, Bonn; Dr. Heike Dörrenbächer, Potsdam/Berlin; Sonja Eichwede, Berlin; Prof. em. Dr. Wolfgang Eichwede, Bremen; Prof. em. Dr. Karl Eimermacher, Berlin; Gernot Erler, Freiburg/Berlin; Dr. Sabine Fischer, Berlin; Barbara von Ow-Freytag, Berlin; Ralf Fücks, Berlin; Prof. Dr. Klaus Gestwa, Tübingen; Katja Gloger, Hamburg; Francesca Gori, Mailand; Ruben Hackler, Zürich; Marlene Hiller, Badenweiler; Prof. Dr. Reinhard Hoffmann, Bremen; Kerstin Holm, München; Prof. em. Dr. Rudolf Jaworski, Konstanz; Dr. Anna Kaminsky, Berlin; Prof. Dr. Andreas Kappeler, Wien; Prof. Dr. Doris Kaufmann, Bremen; Walter Kaufmann, Berlin; Maria Klassen, Bremen; Prof. Dr. Volkhard Knigge, Buchenwald/Jena; Ilko-Sascha Kowalczuk, Bayreuth; Dr. Gerd Koenen, Frankfurt/Main; Prof. Dr. Helmut König, Aachen; Prof. Dr. Jan Křen, Prag; Dr. Hermann Kuhn, Bremen; Prof. Dr. Jan Kusber, Mainz; Prof. Dr. Maike Lehmann, Köln; Dr. Stefan Meister, Berlin; Stefan Melle, Berlin; Markus Meckel, Berlin; Prof. Dr. Birgit Menzel, Germersheim; Helga Metzner, Berlin; Prof. Dr. Dietmar Neutatz, Freiburg; Prof. em. Dr. Claus Offe, Berlin; Prof. Dr. Stefan Plaggenborg, Bochum; Prof. Dr. Jan Plamper, London; Ruprecht Polenz, Münster; Sven Pauling, Bremen; Gerd Poppe, Berlin; Ulrike Poppe, Potsdam; Prof. Dr. Joachim von Puttkamer, Jena; Manuela Putz, Bremen; Katharina Raabe, Berlin; Judit & Laszlo Rajk, Budapest; Waleria Radziejowska-Hahn, Köln; Prof. em. Dr. Michal Reiman, Prag; Prof. Dr. Malte Rolf, Bamberg; Dr. Manfred Sapper, Berlin; Prag, Prof. Dr. Susanne Schattenberg, Bremen; Prof. Dr. Frithjof Benjamin Schenk; Basel; Stefanie Schiffer, Berlin; Prof. em. Dr. Karl Schlögel, Berlin; Prof. Dr. Martin Schulze Wessel, München; Dr. Tetiana Sebta, Kiew; Peter Sellin, Berlin; Tom Sello, Berlin; Prof.es em. Dr. Eva & Dieter Senghaas, Bremen, Dr. Natia Sichinava, Tbilisi; Dr. Diana Siebert, Singen; Jens Siegert, Moskau; Prof. Dr. Rita Süssmuth, Berlin; Prof. Dr. Stefan Troebst, Berlin; Helga Trüpel, Bremen; Dr. Elisabeth Weber, Köln; Dr. Volker Weichsel, Berlin; Reinhard Weißhuhn, Berlin; Dr. Richard F. Wetzell, Washington; Dr. phil. Manfred Zeller, Bremen; Prof. Dr. Michael Zürn, Berlin.
Dr. Manfred Sapper, Osteuropa, Schaperstr. 30, D-10719 Berlin, Tel.: 030-30104581, email@example.com