New opportunities in the work of human rights activists

Recently, I thought about what has been important to me in the last year. Which experiences have I had? What has affected my life?

Last year was a very difficult year, and among the many events that took place, the most significant was participating in the Human Rights Online project.
This project gave me the opportunity to participate in the development and construction of the new site.

It was extremely interesting and useful step-by-step process with common forces to improve the efficiency of the site, to develop new approaches to posts on the website, and to design and modify the different country sections on the website.

I was given the opportunity to work as a trainer and to teach 10 young human rights activists from different regions of the Republic of Moldova to work on our website. Together, we conducted workshops in which each participant recieved the necessary knowledge and skills to work as a blogger.


Photo 1: Hard at work at of the workshops in Chisinau

We discussed how to perform an interview about human rights, how to record high quality videos, and how to publish them on the website.

In the workshops, the young people talked a lot about their problems with violations of their rights and freedoms in their regions.


Photo 2: Young people from Transnistria share their opinion

Through the workshops, young human rights activists from Moldova discussed the problems of the relationship between the Republic of Moldova and Transnistria. Aspects included the impact of the Transnistrian conflict on their lives, and the lack of understanding between the state and the citizens.


Photo 3: Exchange of views. The work continues even during the breaks

The work of human rights activists continued even after the workshops. We discussed the topics for their video interviews and worked to put the materials on the website.

Sergej Iubabenko, project coordinator in the Republic of Moldova, was in constant contact with our workshop participants. Everyone encountered a very big problem. When they interviewed people about the violation of human rights in the Republic of Moldova and wanted to film with a camera or mobile phone, people were frightened and asked them not to do so because they were afraid that the government could persecute them in the future. Unfortunately, this is a reality in Moldova, in which there are many examples of fictitious criminal proceedings against human rights activists. Thus, each video interview on the subject of human rights was the result of great effort. It required explaining to people that the website is not a Moldovan one, and that their materials from different countries are included, and that if we want changes in our country, it is necessary to inform the international community about the real situation here. We are delighted that we have succeeded in calming the interviewees and thus recording 53 video interviews.

One participant, Dimitrij Grebenko, interviewed 8 young people on the question of which human rights in Moldova could be improved. It is particularly interesting to see that these young people did not really know what human rights are.

Video 1: Human rights in the Republic of Moldova – a survey of young people

From these video interviews, it is clear that these young people do not know what human rights are.

As a result, the Chair of the Moldovan section of the ISHR, Dr. Ljubov Nemchinova Dimitrij, proposed to create a seminar for young people about human rights and to film it.

Video 2: Seminar on human rights in the Republic of Moldova

This seminar was not planned as a part of the project, but it was crucial for the effective work of human rights activists and was therefore maintained.

In the work on this project, there was another very important aspect. Human rights activists from the Republic of Moldova were given the opportunity to cooperate with human rights activists from other countries of the Eastern Partnership and Russia. We showed the human rights situation in our countries, exchanged experiences, and helped and supported each other.

We have seen that many of the problems in our countries have a common character, but also that there are country-specific problems. We realized that the bloggers from these countries help us understand these problems.

Our concluding workshop in Germany was incredible and unforgettable, in which 20 activists and bloggers from seven countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine) took part.

foto1.humansrights deffender

Photo 4: Human rights activists from seven countries together in Frankfurt am Main. Dec. 9, 2016
(Note: including ISHR staff from Germany and the USA, from nine countries)

These three days of meetings from December 7 to 10 in Frankfurt am Main flew by as if on a flight.

In the workshop, the bloggers were able to strengthen their technical skills in the processing of the website. The participants were also able to speak directly with the developer of the website, Mr. Philipp Kleindienst. There were a lot of changes and suggestions made in order to improve the functionality of the site.

Over the course of the discussions between the young bloggers, they exchanged their experiences in recording video interviews on the subject of human rights. The exchange on the human rights situation in the respective countries was also very good. Many of the problems faced by the others proved to be transnational problems. Therefore, it was very interesting to learn how these problems were addressed in each respective country.


Photo 5: Dr. Carmen Krusch-Grün and Ms. Martina Feldmayer, MdL, in conversation with human rights activists from Georgia

I would like to emphasize above all our project coordinator, Dr. Carmen Krusch-Grün. Her enthusiasm and energy inspired all participants and inspired the work.

Additionally, meeting with one of the representatives in the Parliament of Hessen (Landtag), Ms. Martina Feldmayer, whose real interest in our project was clearly felt, was also unforgettable in the closing meeting.

Feldmeyer-ÖP-Konferenz-1-1024x614Photo 6. Dr. Carmen Krusch-Grün and Ms. Martina Feldmayer, MdL, in conversation with human rights activists from Ukraine

She spoke personally with activists from different countries and listened attentively to their contributions on the situation in the countries they represented.

It was also very nice to see and get to know the “veterans” of the International Society for Human Rights, Mr. Hafen, and Dr. Gnauck (co-founder of the IGFM, 1972).

HAFEN3-1024x597Photo 7: Speech by Mr. Hafen

They have made a great contribution to the fight for human rights in the Soviet Union, and we feel obliged to continue their cause in the protection of human rights in our countries. This is especially because, in our young democracies, we are constantly encountering the most basic human rights violations on the part of the state.

I am glad I have very interesting and good friends in Germany, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Russia and Ukraine.

It is very important to know that you understand me, and that you are interested in me, and that we can continue our joint work together.

Gennadij Caunov, January 15, 2017