MIHR received the OSCE Defenders of Democracy Award
During the 30th Annual Meeting of the OSCE Ministerial Council in Skopje, representatives of eight participating States members of the Democracy Defenders Initiative (DDI) recognized the Media Initiative for Human Rights for its documentation of Russian crimes and ongoing advocacy. The ceremony was attended by representatives of Canada, Denmark, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
After the speech by Robert Oliphant, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Douglas Jones, presented Olha Reshetylova, Head of the MIHR, with a certificate recognizing the work of the organization. Douglas Jones emphasized the vital role of civil society in ensuring the accountability of OSCE-participating States in the field of human rights protection.
During the award ceremony, Olha Reshetylova called on the international community to support the fight of Ukrainians against Russian aggression:
“This is a great honor for the Media Initiative for Human Rights, for our great team, who are right now working in fields, documenting the testimonies of victims and investigating war crimes committed by the Russian Federation against Ukrainian prisoners of war and civilians.
This recognition is not just for us, but also for all the victims, survivors, and witnesses who share their stories with us and have the courage to continue their struggle. The Russians broke their lives, but they continued to fight for freedom and human rights.
From our human rights and Ukrainian perspective, it is obvious to us that Russia is building a dictatorship network. And that they are making it not only around itself. For example, in Nicaragua, all officials are required to speak Russian, and the Russian Federal Security Service trains their security services on how to torture activists and oppositionists properly. In many countries of the Sahelian region of Africa where, according to civil society activists, the situation with torture is the same as in the Ukrainian territories occupied by Russia.
Russia is building this network around the world. And Ukrainians are at the forefront of this fight against dictatorships. Unfortunately, we are losing our resources and our nation’s best people. Many of my friends have been killed. We feel it because we lose someone who should have been building our future every day. Do not stop supporting Ukraine. This is our common struggle!”
On the sidelines of the 30th Annual Meeting of the OSCE Ministerial Council in Skopje, Olha Reshetylova also met with Ambassador Michael Carpenter, Permanent Representative of the United States to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. During the meeting, which was devoted, in particular, to potential mechanisms for the release of Ukrainian civilian hostages held by Russia, Mr. Carpenter emphasized the importance of launching the OSCE Moscow Mechanism to investigate the persecution of civilians in the territories occupied by Russia, the seizure and detention of civilian hostages.
Michael Carpenter also supported the MIHR`s idea to call on foreign diplomatic missions in Russia to attend court hearings in cases of Ukrainian civilian hostages held by Russia, as this is one of the few opportunities to identify the names of detained Ukrainians and learn about their health.
Olga Reshetylova also discussed with the American ambassador the case of the murder of 16-year-old Tihran Ohannisian and Mykyta Khanhanov in Berdiansk, whose bodies have not yet been returned to their families. Mr. Carpenter promised to urge the Russians to do so.