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We Want Justice for Natasha: End Impunity

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Six years ago today, our friend and the first recipient of the Anna Politkovskaya Award, Natalia Estemirova (or Natasha as we called her among friends) was abducted and murdered in Chechnya. 

Until today, nobody has been brought to justice for this crime, committed in broad daylight, despite DNA of the possible perpetrators and other evidence at hand. Six years on, and despite repeated assurances by the Russian authorities to investigate all leads into her murder, the investigation is not moving forward.

Natalia's selfless work to end human rights violations and to seek justice for the crimes committed in Chechnya, continue to inspire us. Natalia Estemirova fought against injustice and exposed the truth about atrocities in Chechnya. For this she paid with her life. Her work on behalf of the victims of the war in Chechnya, her condemnation of abuses against the Chechen people and her commitment to seeking the truth despite the danger to her life, are an example of true human spirit. 

We at RAW in WAR are outraged and saddened that the authorities have failed so far to identify those who killed Natalia and those, who stand behind her murder. In May 2014, a jury at the Moscow City Court found five men guilty of organizing and committing the murder of Anna Politkovskaya. However, while the killers of Anna have been convicted, those who ordered the murder are still at large. 

Today, we call for justice for Natalia’s murder. In addition, we call for respect and for protection of human rights defenders in Chechnya and elsewhere in the Russian Federation. Those, who follow in the footsteps of Natalia are increasingly accused of being "foreign agents", “unpatriotic” and they are presented as “making money from other people’s misery”. Regrettably, this campaign of intimidation against human rights defenders, steered by the government, does give us little reason to hope that the authorities will protect human rights defenders and ensure justice for crimes committed against them. 

We continue to call on the Russian Government to stop the campaign against human rights defenders and to support their work in the name of Natalia Estemirova, Anna Politkovskaya and others like them, who lost their lives while defending human rights. We will continue to re-print our open letter from 15 July 2009, the day Natalia was abducted and killed, until justice is done.

Join in support and add your voice for justice by signing the petition.

RAW in WAR, 15th July 2015

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Open Letter, 15th July 2009

We are shocked and outraged by the killing of Natasha Estemirova in Chechnya today. Natasha was a dear friend of all of us at RAW in WAR. In 2007 we presented the first annual Anna Politkovskaya Award to Natasha for her courage in seeking and telling the truth about the torture, disappearances and murders of civilians in the war in Chechnya. 

Natasha was a gentle, loving woman and a brave truth-teller, who was not afraid to speak out about the torture, rape and disappearances in Chechnya. She paid for it with her life. Like Anna did. Because there is nothing more dangerous than telling the truth in today’s Russia. And Natasha was a truth-seeker with every fibre of her being. She just couldn’t remain silent; she couldn’t play it safe. She was a fierce spirit, a whistle-blower, a caring and loyal friend, a deeply loving woman, who stood up for humanity 

Like Anna, she was killed, because of her describing and reporting of the truth about the dirty war in Chechnya. She was a condemned woman giving voice to condemned people: the people of Chechnya. 

Natasha was a unique woman whose courage earned her death threats and abuse from the authorities at home. It also earned her the love and admiration of human rights supporters at home and around the world. She lived a life of courage and truthtelling in the face of grave danger, as Anna did. 

We call on the Russian Government to bring to justice, both those who killed Natasha Estemirova and those who ordered her murder. We call on the Russian Government to bring to justice the killers of Anna Politkovskaya, for whose murder, three years on, justice has not been done. 

We also call on the worlds leaders, in honouring Natasha Estemirova in the coming days, to demand justice for Natasha and to pledge to do everything in their power to protect the journalists and human rights defenders who work in areas of war and conflict, and who speak out on behalf of the victims, as Natasha and Anna did. 

On 6 October 2008, on the eve of the anniversary of Anna’s murder, Natasha presented the Anna Politkovskaya Award to the brave young parliamentarian from Afghanistan, Malalai Joya, with the words: Malalai be brave. 

We owe it to the memory of Natasha and Anna to protect the very few who still speak out, on behalf of those to whom nobody wants to listen.

RAW in WAR



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