Archives on human rights violations in Chechnya

Country: Chechnya
Organization: Société pour les peuples menacés (SPM) Suisse
Years supported: 2006 – 2010 and 2012 – 2013

Whilst lacking the necessary resources, the association “Société pour les peuples menacés (SPM) Suisse” (Society for Threatened Peoples Switzerland) had been seeking for some time to enable remembrance efforts in connection with human rights violations during the two Chechen wars and to preserve evidence of crimes committed for potential legal or public actions.

With the support of Pro Victimis, SPM, operating in extreme confidentiality for obvious security reasons, started to establish audiovisual archives on the atrocities committed. This undertaking would not have been possible without the courage and commitment of activist Zainap Gashaeva, director of the grassroots NGO “Echo of War”. As a result of successive donations, the collection has grown to over 500 videocassettes. Once moved to a safe place, these tapes, which were often stored for years in very poor conditions, are restored. Moreover, all tapes are analyzed then systematically entered and filed for potential use in court.

The original images come from both internationally renowned journalists and anonymous activists. They relate to the events which occurred in Chechnya, but also include testimonies from Russian or Chechen survivors as well as interviews with victims of various atrocities.

The founding, in 2009, of the association “Chechen War Archive”, in partnership with Reporters without Borders, Echo of War and 1000 Peace Women across the Globe, marked a decisive stage in efforts to ensure the project’s independence. The world’s most detailed video collection on human rights violations during the two Chechen wars is now available for consultation, upon request, by researchers, jurists, journalists, NGOs and other interested parties.

In addition to its initial support, Pro Victimis has stepped in on two occasions to meet gaps in outside funding.

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