lunes, 4 de abril de 2011

Galina Kozhevnikova REST IN PEACE

This week, we received news of the passing of Galina Kozhevnikova, 36, a human rights activist highly involved with the denunciation of racism and intolerance in her city, Moscow, where she worked as Sub-Director of the NGO SOVA Center.
A long illness took her after years of fighting, but without a doubt she will leave a lasting memory among those of us who knew her and had the fortune to share with her the fight for dignity and human rights for all people, independent of their origin, sexual orientation, nationality, etc.
Being an activist against hate crimes is no easy task. It requires an iron will; a spiritual strength in the face of the most horrible misfortunes a person can suffer; and what’s more, entails a rather high level of personal risk, especially in Russia, where Galina developed her affiliation and involvement. SOVA Center has suffered incessant harassment from hate groups and hostile pressure from the authorities, which even today distrust independent civil society.
Some of their activists have been forced to seek refuge in the United States, after receiving a number of direct personal threats, including threats against their families. It is devastating, when we take into account that we are speaking of a country where human rights activists are sometimes killed. We remember the names of Serguei Makelov, a lawyer, or the young journalist Anastasia Baburova, who are added to the killing of fellow journalists Anna Polistoskaia and Natalia Estemirova, the latter a member of the NGO Memorial.
Because of this, the death of our friend is a double blow: the loss of a loved one personally suffered by her family and friends, and the hole her absence will leave, because in times like these is not easy to find a person with the strength, vision, values, energy, and determination needed to fight against intolerance.
Soon, her organization will publish the last report written by Galina, about racism and xenophobia in Russia. Undoubtedly, it will reflect a growing tendency in populist declarations, proliferation of hate groups, aggressions, and killings. We can only hope that it will provide the shock needed for the authorities to act and brace this fragile democracy. Surely, hundreds of activists will continue working daily to exorcise Europe of its worst demons, hatred and totalitarianism, with the sadness of the loss of one of our own, but with the assurance that our work is essential, and that our cause is the best.
Movement against Intolerance.
It is an anthem for the human rights movement.

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