“Every year since 2016, to mark Human Rights Day* [10 December], Germany and France have jointly presented the Franco-German Prize for Human Rights and the Rule of Law. Whether they be a human rights defender, a journalist or a lawyer: this award recognises the efforts of all those who work tirelessly every day to advance the causes of human rights and the rule of law,” wrote the website of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs a few days back.
“From gynaecological medical care for victims of ISIS to ‘Cartoons for Peace’, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian are today honouring 15 individuals from around the world who have shown a special commitment to human rights.”
One of them is Yury DMITRIEV. The citation reads:
“The historian Yury Dmitriev has been in pretrial detention since 2016. Prior to this he had served as head of the Karelian branch of the human rights NGO Memorial since the 1980s, researching and publicising mass executions carried out in the forest of Sandarmokh under Stalin’s rule. Memorial campaigns within Russia for human rights and efforts to address historical human rights violations, as well as remembrance of the victims of Stalinist repression. Over almost 30 years, Dmitriev compiled a list of 40,000 names of people executed or deported during the Great Terror, and discovered historical mass graves in Sandarmokh and Krasny Bor and on the Solovetsky Islands. He deserves particular recognition for his exceptional commitment to addressing historical crimes in the former Soviet Union and preserving the memory of the Stalinist Terror despite sometimes significant opposition, not least from official Russian policy on the country’s past.”
Yesterday marked the Fourth Anniversary of DMITRIEV’s first arrest in 2016.
Human Rights Day on 10 December recalls the date on which the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was issued in 1948. It was one of several days of protest in the Soviet Union. Its 20th anniversary prompted the creation of the Chronicle of Current Events (1968-1983), a periodical documenting human rights violations in the USSR.