International Memorial Association Statement
Memorial is more than an organization or a civic movement: it consists of people across the globe that share the same values and are willing to know the truth about their countries’ tragic past. That is why Memorial has survived and keeps going. On May 16, 2023, in Geneva, 15 Memorial branches operating in 9 countries formalized this, having established the International Memorial Association. It is intended to be a successor of International Memorial that operated for more than 35 years.
The “new” Memorial will follow the same path of promoting civil liberties, democracy, supremacy of the law and priority of the rights of the individual in public policy and social life. It will keep researching, documenting and analyzing all manifestations of political violence, in past and present, in the former USSR and other countries affected by the crimes of Soviet and post-Soviet regimes. Researching into the history of terror and resistance, Memorial will at the same time fight for human rights, promote building and maintaining civil societies, democracy-driven and law-bound governments, so that a backlash into dictatorship would not be possible.
Armed conflicts and aggressive wars in the post-Soviet countries have become a manifestation of such a backlash, being an undiluted representation of massive violation of human rights. That is why Memorial holds a strong anti-war position. In past conflicts, we side with those who fought for freedom and against those who organized and took part in the governmental terror. In present conflicts, we always side against the aggressor and with those who resist the aggression.
Another alarming sign of a backlash into dictatorship is treating a state as the ultimate value and an individual as an expendable tool. Again we see the attempts by governments around the globe to silence dissidents, suppress the freedom of speech, bring the courts under political control and re-introduce repressive practices.
The recent developments make it clear that our totalitarian past is far from being overcome. We may relapse into an extremely dangerous backslide threatening security and freedom in Europe and in the entire world.
Deep understanding of the tragic experience and resistance in the USSR and communist bloc countries is essential for successfully resisting political oppression, for countering the military aggression and hampering governments’ attempts to achieve political goals through violence.
The mission of the International Memorial Association is based on prioritizing human life and freedom over all other considerations and promoting legal consciousness, which is why Memorial’s historical and educational work is integral with its human rights activities.
With this interrelation in mind, the international community will be more efficient in rebuilding democratic institutions and civil liberties in post-Soviet countries where such institutions were destroyed, weakened or have never been established and will be able to prevent resurgence (in any shape or form) of militarism, revenge-seeking or aggressive chauvinism in European social, political and cultural life.
Memorial stands against the evil that knows no borders, and this organization’s mission and values are universal: that is why it keeps bringing together people from all over the world that share those values.