World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


Russia: Legacy of Olympic Games tarnished by arrests

The legacy of the Sochi Olympics will be tainted by the numerous human rights violations in the run-up and during the Games, as well as the failure of the International Olympic Committee to confront the Russian authorities over the arrests and beatings that marred this prestigious sporting event, Amnesty International said on the eve of the closing ceremony.

“The Olympic Games are meant to contribute to a peaceful and better world. This goal was not achieved in Sochi. The reason is simple: Russia’s repression continued unabated throughout the Games, and the Olympic movement failed to challenge the host country on its pledge to promote human rights,” Sergei Nikitin, Amnesty International’s Moscow Office Director.

“The harassment, detentions, arrests, fabricated charges and unfair trials meted out to activists under the blazing lights of the world’s cameras were a blight on the games. It does not bode well for when the Games are over and world media leaves Russia.”

The list of human rights violations committed in the context of the Olympic Games is long.

In the midst of the games, on 18 February, nine people were detained in central Sochi. Among them were Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, members of the punk group Pussy Riot and former Amnesty International Prisoners of Conscience. The following day several members of the group were slapped, whipped and thrown to the ground by uniformed men calling themselves Cossacks.

A transgender activist from Italy, Vladimir Luxuria, was arrested in Sochi on 17 February for displaying a rainbow banner that said ‘It’s OK to be gay’. Other activists and journalists were also harassed and some arrested.

“There was a period when arrests of activists in and around Sochi were reported almost daily. Activists who tried to protest against discrimination in other parts of the country, away from the Olympic spot light, were also arrested,” said Sergei Nikitin.

In advance of the Games activists highlighted issues of serious concern. They included forced evictions to make room for Olympic infrastructure, poor working conditions for underpaid labourers, and the destruction of protected places of natural beauty. Activists who exposed these violations were harassed and arrested.

Activists Yevgeniy Vitishko and Igor Kharchenko, members of the NGO Environmental Watch for North Caucasus (Ecologicheskaya Vakhta po Severnomu Kavkazu) based in the Krasnodar Region that hosted the Sochi Olympics, were arrested in separate incidents on 3 and 4 February respectively. They were sentenced to detention on trumped-up charges of hooliganism and resisting police orders. Both were behind bars when visitors to their native Krasnodar Region were enjoying the Games’ opening ceremony. Prisoner of Conscience Yevgeny Vitishko was subsequently sentenced to three years in prison in connection with his environmental activism.

The group had been highlighting the destruction of protected forest and other environmental damage the Olympic Games had brought to their region. Other members of Environmental Watch were subjected to repeated arrests, brief detentions, personal searches, questioning by police, and unofficial warnings from police and security officials to abstain from protesting during the Sochi Olympics.

“Harassment of Environmental Watch and the imprisonment of Yevgeniy was the culmination of a concerted campaign to silence and squeeze out critics in the run-up to the Sochi Games,” said Sergei Nikitin.

Amnesty International has continually urged the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to condemn the arrests and harassment of environmental activists in and near Sochi ahead and during the Games, and to address the serious human rights violations associated with the preparation for and staging of the Sochi Olympics. So did other human rights organizations.

“The silence of the IOC in relation to human rights violations in Russia has been deafening. Yes, the Olympic Games should be above politics but not above human rights. Instead of promoting equality and human rights, IOC members have washed their hands of all responsibility preferring to take the official line that the Russian authorities fed them,” said Sergei Nikitin.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Palestinians Continue The Struggle Against The Adei Ad

Hundreds of Palestinian children, women, and men gathered at Turmusaya on Friday December 17th to complete the tree planting began by Palestinian Authority minister Ziad Abu Ein, who was killed by Israeli soldiers on Friday December 10th. More>>

Israeli Soldier Kills PA Minister At Non-Violent Protest

Yesterday, an Israeli soldier killed Palestinian Authority (PA) Settlment minister, Ziad Abu Ein, at a non-violent demonstration in the village of Turmusaya. More>>

ALSO:

  • Palestinian Centre For Human Rights - Ban on Palestinians claiming compensation against military
  • Pakistan School Killings

    GENEVA (16 December 2014) – The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Tuesday condemned what he described as “an utterly despicable and incomprehensibly vicious attack on defenceless children” at a co-educational school ... More>>

    ALSO:


    Sobering Data On American's Apathy About CIA Torture

    Despite a scathing report on torture, a majority of survey respondents approve of the CIA's grisly methods. More>>



    Sea Shepherd Intercepts Toothfish Poachers

    Yesterday, at approximately 2152 AEDT, the Sea Shepherd conservation ship, Bob Barker, intercepted the illegal fishing vessel Thunder, at 62 15’ South, 81 24’ East, inside the CCAMLR (Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources) ... More>>


    The White House: Charting A New Course On Cuba

    We are separated by 90 miles of water, but brought together through the relationships between the two million Cubans and Americans of Cuban descent that live in the United States, and the 11 million Cubans who share similar hopes for a more positive future for Cuba. More>>

    ALSO:


    Journalist Most Recent Victim Of Israeli Military

    Bashar, a journalist from Palestine TV, was shot in the left leg at Kufr Qaddum on Friday the 5th of December 2014. More>>

    ALSO:

  • Palestinian Centre For Human Rights - Swiss government’s bid to convene a summit on Palestine
  • UN News - UN-backed reconstruction efforts continue in Gaza
  • Get More From Scoop

     
     
     
     
     
    World
    Search Scoop  
     
     
    Powered by Vodafone
    NZ independent news