Side event OFF: Demonising Dissidents: How INTERPOL is being abused by dictatorships

Together with the London based organisation Fair Trials International, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee organized a breakfast seminar tuesday at the Hotel Bristol as a side event to the Oslo Freedom Forum, discussing how INTERPOL is being abused by dictatorships

Bahar Kimyongur

At the seminar we heard stories from activists Benny Wenda, a West Papuan tribal leader who found himself the subject of a Red Notice after fleeing persecution in Indonesia; Michelle Betz, a journalist who was caught up in a crackdown on independent civil society groups in Egypt and discovered an INTERPOL alert against her; and Bahar Kimyongur, a Belgian activist who landed an INTERPOL Red Notice after taking part in a peaceful protect at the European Parliament. Because of the alert Bahar has been arrested in the Netherlands, Italy and Spain, most recently in the presence of his young children. Watch him tell his story at the seminar Demonising Dissidents hosted by Fair Trials International and Norwegian Helsinki Committee at Hotel Bristol in Oslo 21 October. See their stories below.

Bill Browder

In addition, Bill Browder, CEO of Hermitage Capital Fund Management, told the shocking story about how his lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in november 2009 died at the age of 37 in a Moscow jail, beaten to death by eight riot guards, after months of torture and ill-treatment. Sergei Magnitsky was Bill Browders lawyer, working to get back the companies and money that was stolen from Bill Browder’s after the police raided his office in Moscow and seized all their documents in 2006. 18 months before, Bill Browder had been declared a threat to national security, and decision closely link to Browder’s work against corruption in major Russian companies. After the death of Sergei Magnitsky, Bill Browder has devoted all his time to get justice for Sergei.  Bill Browder in december 2012 managed to get the so-called Magnitsky-act passed in the US senate, an act that apply to not only the people involved in killing Sergei Magnitsky, but all Russian human rights abusers. These where the first sanctions imposed against Russia in 35 years. For this, President Vladimir Putin was absolutely furious, and he retaliated by putting Bill Browder on the INTERPOL most wanted list in May 2013. Later the same year he was sentenced to nine years in prison in-absenthia. Sergei Magnitsky was also convicted for tax fraud in the same case, the first ever posthumous trial in Russia. See Bill Browder’s story below.

Jago Russell