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A Ukrainian received the Swedish "Human Rights Defender of the Year" award for documenting Russian crimes against children

25 Apr, 2024
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A Ukrainian received the Swedish "Human Rights Defender of the Year" award for documenting Russian crimes against children

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Photographer: Markus Junghard.

 

Every year, the Civil Rights Defender of The Year award honors human rights defenders who, despite risks to their own safety, continue to fight for civil and political rights.

Ukrainian Mariia Sulialina, head of the Ukrainian human rights organization Almenda, has received the Civil Rights Defender of The Year 2024 award in Sweden. This was announced on the award's website.

Mariia Sulialina, 27, has been working with Almenda since 2013, documenting evidence of human rights violations by collecting photographs and videos and conducting interviews with teachers and parents. Almenda was founded by a group of human rights activists in Yalta in 2011.

Previously, the organization focused on helping young people from the occupied Crimea to study in Ukraine and integrate into society. Currently, they are also documenting war crimes.

"Despite personal losses and great risks, she has continued her work to document war crimes and other grave violations against children and ensure justice for children from the occupied territories of Ukraine who have fallen victim to indoctrination and deportation. For her exceptional resilience and dedication to human rights, democracy, and children's rights to determine their own future, Mariia Sulialina is awarded the Civil Rights Defender of the Year Award 2024”, says Civil Rights Defenders’ Board of Directors in its award justification.

 

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Mariia Sulialina currently leads the organization together with a team of 11 people. When Russia occupied the peninsula, the girl was 18 years old, which forced her to leave her hometown of Yalta. From her new home in Kyiv, she began documenting human rights violations in the occupied territories.

"Children who have been deported to Russia from the occupied areas testify to re-education and brainwashing, and many are adopted by Russian families. Very few have returned. Children that remain in the occupied territories are also subjected to indoctrination. They attend Russian schools that try to convince them to support the war by, among other things, claiming that Ukraine started it," Sulialina said.

The Civil Rights Defender of The Year award is given for outstanding achievements in the defense of civil and political rights. It is awarded annually by the organization Civil Rights Defenders. This award honors outstanding human rights defenders who, despite risks to their own safety, continue to fight for civil and political rights. The award has been presented since 2013, with recipients including human rights defenders from Venezuela, Turkey, and Burma.

The Odessa Journal

The Odessa Journal

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