Oyub Titiev, a leading human rights defender in Chechnya, was arrested 9 January. He is being charged with unlawful possession of drugs. In two statements, organisations all over the world are standing up in solidarity with the leader of the Human Rights Center Memorial’s Grozny office.
Targeting the brave
– The fact that Chechen authorities have so blatantly invented drug accusations against Titiev is not surprising, in light of the vicious way they persistently target people brave enough to try to speak up about human rights abuses, says Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General of the NHC.
Read the joint statement from NHC, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Front Line Defenders, FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture.
– The question is, what will Russia’s federal authorities do about it and whether Russia’s international partners will do their utmost to ensure Moscow does the right thing, says Engesland.
The Civic Solidarity Platform, a large network of human rights organisations in the OSCE region also demands the release of Titiev.
Read the joint statement from 49 organisations including Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Georgia, Germany, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Switzerland Tajikistan, USA, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee has urged The Norwegian Government to bring up the Titiev-case with Russian authorities. Today deputy foreign minister Audun Halvorsen responded with a letter to the NHC:
The dispatches of the arrest of Titiev are deeply concerning (…). Human rights defenders are highly exposed to danger in Chechnya (…). We will raise the issue bilaterally at first occasion, and work to raise the case in the OSCE and/or the Council of Europe with Norwegian support. Supporting human rights defenders is an important issue for Norway. The Ministry and I personally, will also draw attention to the case in social media, where we will express our deep concern over the arrest of Titiev, and where Russian federal authorities will be asked to take action without delay.