With last week’s murder of Natalia Estemirova, an ardent voice for human rights in Russia’s North Caucasus region was silenced forever.
Until she was bundled into a van and shot dead last Wednesday, Natalia Estemirova had bravely investigated human rights abuses in the Chechen wars, which often put her in the line of fire.
The small but courageous group of human rights defenders in Russia researching war crimes and other abuses in the string of conflicts that have plagued the North Caucasus for decades are all too aware of the real risks they are taking each day.
Estemirova had spent years defying the cruel fate that had recently befallen several of her colleagues. Lawyer and human rights defender Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova were both shot dead in broad day light in January in the center of Moscow. Markelov was preparing to appeal against the early release of a Russian former colonel sentenced for the murder of a Chechen girl.
Journalist and human rights activist Anna Politkovskaya was shot and killed in 2006. Amnesty International believes Politkovskaya was targeted because of her work as a journalist, reporting on human rights abuses in Chechnya and other regions of the Russian Federation.
Act now. Stand with Amnesty today in demanding a full investigation by Russian authorities into these brutal murders. Only by sending Russian authorities a message from every corner of the global human rights movement can we prevent them from sweeping Estemirova’s and other murders under the rug.
The killings of Estemirova and her colleagues are an attempt to gag civil society in Russia. Estemirova’s human rights investigations in Chechnya — which included reporting on torture, unlawful killings and enforced disappearances — represented a direct threat to local government and other groups, who in turn intimidated her in vain attempts to shut her up.
Don’t let intimidation prevent justice in Russia. Join us in calling on Russian authorities to fully investigate these brutal acts and end impunity for murders of human rights activists.