Sunday 7 October will mark the anniversary of the murder of Anna Politkovskaya, the campaigning Russian journalist and outspoken government critic, who exposed the brutal treatment of civilians in Chechnya at the hands of both the Russian forces and the Moscow-supported Chechen officials. No closer to having her assassin brought to justice, one year on, the Kremlin remains reluctant and shows no political will to identify who ordered the killing and to see justice done. Not much has changed in Russia and Chechnya since Anna’s killing last October: independent journalists continue to die in mysterious circumstances; civil society is stifled by draconian government laws and regulations. In Chechnya, torture, rape, disappearances and killings of civilians are a daily occurrence.
To mark this anniversary and to honour Anna and other women like her in the world, RAW in WAR (Reach All Women in WAR) is launching an annual award in the name of Anna Politkovskaya, to be given to a woman human rights defender from a conflict zone in the world who, like Anna, stands up for the victims of this conflict, often at a great personal risk.
The first Award is presented to Natalia Estemirova, a close friend and colleague of Anna, as well as a courageous human rights defender and freelance journalist, working in Chechnya for the human rights organization, Memorial. Natalia was Anna’s most frequent companion during travel and investigations in Chechnya. They investigated a number of cases together – about which Anna wrote for “Novaya Gazeta” and Natalia wrote for Memorial’s website and for local newspapers. Originally trained as a historian, after university Natalia taught history in Chechen schools. Then in 1991 she became one of the leaders of a teachers’ strike demanding better pay and better conditions. During the armed conflict between the Russian Republics of Ingushetia and North Ossetia in 1992, Natalia helped bring refugees to safety and helped free hostages. During the first war in Chechnya in 1998, Natalia collected testimonies from civilians tortured by the Russian forces in unofficial detention facilities, the so-called “filtration camps”. She produced a TV series and wrote articles in the Chechen newspapers about the prisoners in those camps.
Close to 100 influential cultural and political leaders from around the world have joined the committee of supporters for the Anna Politkovskaya Award. Among them are: Mairead Maguire (Nobel Peace Laureate), Betty Williams (Nobel Peace Laureate), Jody Williams (Nobel Peace Laureate), Shirin Ebadi (Nobel Peace Laureate), Wangari Maathai (Nobel Peace Laureate), Rigoberta Menchú Tum (Nobel Peace Laureate), Archbishop Desmond Tutu (Nobel Peace Prize Laureate), Elena Bonner, Tatiana Yankelevich, President Vaclav Havel, Harold Pinter, The Hon. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Vladimir Bukovsky, Andre Glucksmann, Gloria Steinem, Sergey Kovalyov, Terry Waite, CBE, Susan Sarandon, Alexei Simonov, Gillian Slovo, Adam Michnik, Bernard-Henri Lévy, Marek Edelman, Elisabeth Rehn, Mariane Pearl, Asma Jahangir, Naomi Klein, Sister Helen Prejean, Ariel Dorfman, Vanessa Redgrave, Michael Cunningham, Eve Ensler, John Sweeney, Jonathan Schell, Naom Chomsky, Marina Litvinenko, Lyudmila Alekseeva, Oleg Panfilov, Desmond O'Malley, Anne Nivat, Victor Fainberg, Lord Frank Judd, Lord Nicolas Rea, Lord Anthony Giddens, Lord Nazir Ahmed, Baroness Shirley Williams, Baroness Molly Meacher, Baroness Helena Kennedy, QC, Sir Nigel Rodley, Professor Yakin Erturk, Anna's sister, Elena Kudimova, Natasha Kandic, Caroline McCormick, Sister Marya Grathwohl, Heidi Bradner, Meglena Kuneva, Elizabeth Kostova, Esther Chavez, John D. Panitza, Dubravka Ugresic, Katrina vanden Heuvel,Victor Navasky, Aidan White, Holly Near, Elizabeth Frank and many others.
RAW in WAR (Reach All Women in WAR) is a newly-founded human rights organization aiming
- To support women human rights defenders working in countries in war and conflict, and help end abuse and persecution against them
- To work directly with women who are active in their communities, in order to strengthen and enable their work on behalf of women and girl victims of conflict
- To carry out its work in areas of conflict, or “forgotten conflict”, where there is limited or no support from the major humanitarian agencies and organizations
RAW in WAR – Who makes it happen?
Mariana Katzarova is the Founder and Director of RAW. Originally from Bulgaria, she was a founder of the first independent newspaper in Bulgaria in 1989, called “Democracy”. After working for 15 years in the war zones of Bosnia, Kosovo and Chechnya, including 10 years as the researcher on Russia and Chechnya at Amnesty International in London, Mariana founded RAW in 2006.
Nerys Lee, after 25 years at Amnesty International as researcher on Western Europe, has been working with Mariana on developing RAW. She is RAW's Company Secretary.
Louis Greig is a trustee of RAW. He is a stock broker with JP Morgan and a patron of a number of charitable organizations, including the London Committee of Human Rights Watch.
Lynel Long is a trustee of RAW and an independent consultant on humanitarian and development issues. After working at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Amnesty International, she co-founded Women-to-Work, a charity providing entrepreneurial training and mentoring for survivors of trafficking and domestic violence.
Marianne Craig is a RAW trustee who runs her own career coaching business. She is the founder of Mirus, a low-cost coaching project, which brings together coaches to work with human rights activists and social entrepreneurs.
for Women and Girl Survivors of War
90D Hazellville Rd
London N19 3NA
Further information from:
Founder: Mariana Katzarova +44 (0) 7765662477;
Company Secretary: Nerys Lee +44 (0) 7941259695;
Company Limited by Guarantee. Registered No 6088414.
Application for charity registration submitted to the UK Charity Commission