Lev Ponomarev: Let's Make 2012 a Year Without Political Prisoners

posted 30 Dec 2011, 10:17 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 30 Dec 2011, 10:24 ]
If earlier we could express only a flimsy hope that the future would bring us changes for the better, today a powerful public movement is developing in our country that demands not only free and fair elections but also an end to political repression. We say the time has come for the slogan: “2012 – The Year Without Political Prisoners”. 



"New Year Greetings to Political Prisoners, Victims of the Repressive Political System, and Friends

The Council of the Movement For Human Rights sends New Year greetings to all political prisoners!

We send New Year greetings not only to the political prisoners in Russia whose numbers, to the shame and anguish of society, are increasing all the time, but also to the political prisoners in the other countries of the Former Soviet Union.

If earlier we could express only a flimsy hope that the future would bring us changes for the better, today a powerful public movement is developing in our country that demands not only free and fair elections but also an end to political repression. We say the time has come for the slogan: “2012 – The Year Without Political Prisoners”.

We send New Year greetings to prisoner of conscience Sergei Udaltsov and his wife Anastasia. Your strength and self-sacrifice are a model to all of us for emulation.

Today we grieve for Belarus and Kazakhstan. Hundreds of supporters of democracy and advocates of civil and social rights have fallen victim to acts of vengeful retaliation. Blood flows on the streets of towns in Kazakhstan. We wish our friends and colleagues in Belarus and Kazakhstan a speedy release and victory in their selfless struggle, and success in winning true democracy, which we, unfortunately, bungled and let slip.

We are certain that very soon the example of a free Russia will advance the cause of freedom in neighouring countries. Together we shall move to democracy and the triumph of human rights.

We see how, shameless and desperate, the Russian justice system time after time fabricates charges and, undaunted, puts those whom the government considers a danger to itself behind bars.

The trial of Khodorkovsky and Lebedev has been compared, in terms of its absurdity, with the trials of the 1930s. In the same way we must compare the fates of those tens, and hundreds, of thousands, who have been convicted in our country for reasons that are just as absurd and contrived, with the fates of hundreds of thousands of victims of the murderous laws of the Stalin era, such as the so-called “three ears of corn” law that provided that peasants could be shot for stealing unripe ears of corn from the fields.

We are convinced that political prisoners are those who, while not opponents of the government or critics of individual office holders, have nonetheless as a direct consequence of government policy been subjected to persecution and deprived of liberty through the fabrication of charges, the use of provocations and forgeries, and the unlawful use by courts of pre-trial detention.

It is hard to be deprived of one’s liberty, but unbearable to be conscious of one’s innocence; to understand, that the persecution is revenge for being honest and standing by one’s principles, for the fact that you refused to submit to blackmail by officials and ‘law enforcement’ agencies, that you had not been sufficiently deferent to the security services in the conduct of scientific work, that you did not slander others, that in communications with the ‘guardians of the law’ you maintained your dignity…

Our wish for you is that you regain your freedom.

We wish that your family and friends will be able to meet you, and that you will be happy with those closest to you. We wish you health and strength. We wish you the triumph of justice - that you regain your liberty not through a pardon, not through being released as a result of pity or for reasons of diplomacy, but fully acquitted, with apologies and compensation from the state, and with those guilty punished." 

Council of the Movement For Human Rights:
Lev Ponomarev, executive director; Ruslan Badalov (Nazran); Yury Voblikov (Penza); Tatyana Kotlyar (Obninsk, Kaluga region); Mark Kuperman (Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk); Vadim Postnikov (Tyumen); Tatyana Rudakova (Krasnodar); Lidiya Rybina (Tambov); Vladimir Shaklein (Ekaterinburg)

Oversight Commission of Movement For Human Rights:
Evgeny Ikhlov, chair of the Commission (Moscow), Aleksandr Bekhtold (Ryazan), Dmitry Pyslyar, deputy chair of the Commission (Moscow)

28 December, 2011 
Source: Grani.ru 

Lev Ponomarev lives in Moscow and is director of the Movement For Human Rights.
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