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Criminal charges against an Estonian schoolboy (18), anti-racist activist

1 May 2007, Tallinn

Dear friends,

We are the leaders of the Russian minority organization Youth Union SiiN, which is a member of the ENAR(European Network Against Racism)-Estonia, Estonian National Campaign Committee All different all equal and UNITED for Intercultural Action European Network against nationalism, fascism, racism and in support of migrants and refugees.

As you may know, 26 April 2007 the Estonian government started a police operation near the Tnismgi monument, which was erected during the Soviet time in memory of soldiers perished in the Second World War. It was situated on the common grave. The plans regarding the removal of the monument was not supported by the majority of Tallinn inhabitants and by the city administration.

It is worth mentioning that the authorities did not give permission to the monuments supporters to organize a legal meeting of protest on 22 April 2007.

26 April 2007 there were spontaneous demonstrations near the monument. The police used very brutal means to dispose people, mostly Russian-speakers. In spite of some clashes with the police near the monument, people were mostly protesting in peace. However, both aggressive and peaceful protesters suffered. And only after the victory of the police near the monument numerous acts of vandalism started in the city of Tallinn. The disturbances took place also next day and they spread over to other cities, where Russian-speakers were present in big numbers.

One of the activists of Youth Union SiiN, Mark Siryk, has been a very active participant of anti-racist work of our organization. He took part in various public events, especially those aimed at raising of public awareness. To this end he established contacts with anti-racist organizations in Russia and in EU member-states.

For one year Mark has also participated in various peaceful actions of protest against the removal of the Tnismgi monument. According to the information in our possession, he had constantly experienced pressure of the Estonian security services and the police. Nevertheless, Mark believed that the decision regarding the removal of the monument to Soviet soldiers would mean glorification of those who had fought shoulder to shoulder with Nazis during the WWII. He also believed that it would also mean the victory of radical nationalists, e.g. famous Tiit Madisson, who organized several aggressive public events against the monument (and who also published Holocaust-denial literature).

27 April 2007 Mark was arrested. He is accused of organizing mass disorder involving a large number of persons and that resulted in desecration, destruction, arson or other similar acts (Article 138 of the Penal Code). He may be punished by 1 to 5 years of imprisonment. The nature of this accusation is absolutely not clear. All events organized by Mark in the past were legal. Furthermore, due to illness and preparing for Friday school exam he was not near the monument in the evening of 26 April 2007.

Mark Siryk is a schoolboy. He reached the age of 18 only in March this year. Mark was arrested on his way to school where he was going to pass a final State civic exam. During the search at Marks place, the police confiscated numerous evidences, e.g. anti-racist and anti-fascist literature and a draft of the Youth Union SiiN project proposal School of democracy, which was funded by the European Youth Foundation.

Dear friends,

The Youth Union SiiN needs your assistance.

First, we believe that the authorities should release Mark under the prohibition on departure from residence. Estonian prisons are anything but a safe place for a very young intellectual of minority origin.

Second, we believe that the authorities should waive their absurdist accusations.

We would appreciate your letters of support as well as letters of protest that can be sent to PM Andrus Ansip, a person who has taken the political decision regarding the Tnismgi monument and who is politically responsible for the clashed in Estonian cities.

Our address: SIIN, Narva mnt. 7-557, 10117 Tallinn, Estonia
PM address: HE Mr Andrus Ansip, Stenbocki maja, Rahukohtu 3, 15161 Tallinn, Estonia.

Third, Mart Siryk needs money to pay for legal aid, which is very expensive. We opened a special bank account to collect money necessary to hire a good lawyer:

Youth Union SiiN,
IBAN: EE48 2200 2210 2543 7631,
HANSAPANK, Liivalaia 8, 15040 Tallinn, Estonia

Forth, we would like you to distribute information about this incident to journalists and anti-racist activists in your country. We are ready to provide any interested persons with additional information about the recent developments in Estonia.

We need your help because in Estonia we cannot organise even a public action of protest: in violation of the constitutional principles all public events are banned in Tallinn until 11 May 2007.

Igor Ivanov
Head of the Board +372 5052241

Maia Meos
General Secretary +372 564 77727

Photo of Mar Siryk (18), anti-racist activist

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