“Today’s Lindebrække award recipient has played a vital part in documenting the crimes committed during Euromaidan. The center has, through the SOS Euromaidan, provided legal aid to the victims’ families. They have also provided evidence to their government and the global community about the crimes that were committed against humanity.” Petersen emphasised.
Center for Civil Liberties is a team of young human rights defenders working to ensure that fundamental rights and freedoms of every person both in Ukraine, and internationally are protected. They were instrumental in establishing Euromaidan SOS, which documented the violence and abuse against peaceful protests in Kiev. The protests, now known as Euromaidan, started 21 November 2013 when up to 2,000 protesters gathered at Kiev’s Maidan Nezalezhnosti. More than 100 people were killed before President Yanukovych resigned 20 February 2014.
“Euromaidan SOS was created after cruel and violent breaking up of peaceful students demonstration. In November 2013 thousands of common people got together to bring aid to those victimized by the police abuse. None of us realized then that we were about to deal with hundreds and hundreds of others who were wounded, arrested, tortured, falsely accused, as well as with relatives of those who were killed or kidnapped.” Said chairperson of the board of Center for Civil Liberties, Oleksandra Matviychuk, in her acceptance speech. She continued:
“Less than a week after shooting at unarmed demonstrators in the Kyiv centre common people had to deal with new threats. Russian Federation and its army invasion started the Crimea occupation and then, helped by supported armed groups, it stared a hybrid war in Donbas. Immediately following this, in March 2014, we sent our first mobile group to the Crimea for documenting occupation by unidentified soldiers of administrative buildings. None of us expected that throughout following months we would register hundreds and hundreds of cases of kidnapping, torturing and killing of Donbas civilians, persecution of people with opposite beliefs and Crimean Tatar people in Crimea.
To tell the truth Euromaidan SOS experienced a lot of pain. All of us can choose neither our motherland, nor time we live in. But we can choose whether to take up responsibility or run from it. And there are things we know for sure.
- Ukraine is one of few European countries where people were shot for fighting for the human rights’ values with the EU flags in their hands. Having paid a grave price, finally we had the EU Association signed. And now we are fighting not just for a democratic choice but for the right to have a choice as such. It’s a conflict of civilizations – between democracy and totalitarian “Russian world”. And the question is not only what Ukraine should do in these circumstances. The main question is what will democratic countries do for protecting European values.
- Crimea and Donbass are part of Ukraine. Speaking about re-establishing state sovereignty, we not only think about bringing territories back. We think about protecting those who live there. As well as those who have not been able to return to their homes for months already. We remember those over 6 thousand civilians who were killed in this war. Among those being Crimean Tatar Reshat Ametov, who had been kidnapped and cruely murdered for his lone protest against Crimean invasion, as well as Volodymyr Rybak, a Donetsk local, who was kidnapped and brutally killed for his effort to re-install Ukrainian flag over Horlivka Town Hall.
- Lastly, there are no flanks or rear in a fight for one’s dignity and freedom, as it touches all of us. Regardless of what we have already gone through or what lies ahead, one thing is true: difficult times allow people to “grow” and reveal their best qualities – honesty, ability to cooperate, courage and solidarity. Ordinary people have united into different horizontal initiatives, basically assuming and carrying out state’s functions – developing reforms, helping displaced people, taking care of the injured, supporting army or protecting those who suffered. We live among hundreds of thousands of extraordinary ordinary people; while each of us knows what they live and fight for.”
Center for Civil Liberties
- The Centre for Civil Liberties was established in 2007 to promote the values of human rights, democracy and solidarity in Ukraine and Eurasia to reinforce the principle of human dignity.
- Center for Civil Liberties is a team of young human rights defenders working to ensure that fundamental rights and freedoms of every person are protected.
- They were instrumental in establishing Euromaidan SOS, which documented the violence and abuse against peaceful protests in Kyiv.
- The Center is part of Human Rights House Kyiv
- Organisation`s web page
The Lindebrække prize for Human Rights and Democracy
Since 2007 the Norwegian Conservative Party has awarded the Lindebrække prize to an individual or organisation that has done extraordinary work for human rights and democracy. Sjur Lindebrække was a Norwegian politician and chairman of the Norwegian Conservative Party. He was also a member of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee for many years.
Previous award winners:
2007: Belarussian Popular Front and United Civil Party v/ Alaksej Janukevich, Hviterussland
2008: Mart Laar, Estland
2009: VMRO-DPMNE, Antonio Miloshoski, Makedonia
2010: The Democratic Party, Maldives
2011: Julio Cesar Rivas Castillo/JAVU, Venezuela
2012: Memorial, Svetlana Gannusjkina, Russland
2013: Yoani Sanchez, Cuba
2014: Amira Yahyaoui, Tunisia