Tamara Chikunova: «I want Lukashenka to know that the blood of the people killed under the law is on his hands»
The founder of the Uzbek organization "Mothers against the Death Penalty and Torture," Tamara Chikunova closely cooperates with the Belarusian human rights activists because she considers the abolition of the death penalty throughout the post-Soviet region to be one of her main tasks.
This she worked as an invited expert to work with members of the Human Rights School for Youth, held by Human Rights Center "Viasna" annually in the Belarusian Human Rights House in Vilnius. She regards work with young people, as well as with the general population as of the top priorities on the way to stop the killing, legitimized by the state. "The fact that the population supports the death penalty, first of all witnesses the ignorance of the people and the fact that the public does not pay due attention to this issue. After all, not all people understand that the death penalty is issued by the court on behalf of the Republic of Belarus – hence, of all the people living in the state. That is, each person is involved in each death execution and becomes a party to the crime, as far such punishment deprives a person of life." says Tamara Chikunova communicating with young Belarusians. But, probably the strongest argument for each participant in these lectures is the possibility of miscarriage of justice. Tamara Chikunova, hiding her own motherly pain of loss, tells her personal story: in 2000 in Uzbekistan her only son Dmitri was executed. However, in 2005 he was acquitted and rehabilitated posthumously – he confessed to crimes in court after being tortured.
The mother of the wrongfully convicted says that when launching the campaign for the abolition of the death penalty in Uzbekistan, she and like-minded people spent much effort on raising the public awareness and explanatory work. "Our efforts weren't fruitless. Many supporters of the death penalty came up to me after the meeting. I also heard the following from some older movement, who were initially skeptical: "I your testimony you spoke of the cruelty we encourage. We have never thought about it, but it is terrible... You have overturned our attitude to the death penalty...”. They took the signature blanks and then passed me more than 300 signatures for the abolition of the death penalty," says Tamara.
However, talking about how important it is to provide an understanding of the problems by ordinary people, Tamara Chikunova emphasizes that the solution to this problem depends entirely on the political will. "The final word belongs to the leader of your nation, Lukashenka. And I urge Mr. President to vote for the abolition of the death penalty. After all, he was not born executioner. He takes responsibility for human life. He decides - who is to live and who is to die, because a death verdict cannot be executed with his signature. I want him to thing a little that the blood of the people deprived of life under the law lies on his hands - the hands on the president, who signed for execution of the sentence. I hope that President Lukashenka will abolish the death penalty – as the leader of a state, which is building a democracy."
Let us remind that the activities of the head of the Uzbek non-governmental organization "Mothers against the Death Penalty and Torture," Tamara Chikunova received a number of prestigious awards, including the German Nuremberg Prize for Human Rights (2005), the Medal of the French National Consultative Commission on Human Rights, "Liberty, Equality , Brotherhood" (2005), the Medal of the Italian city of Genoa in the movement "Cities for Life - Cities against the Death Penalty" (2009) and the French National Order of the Legion of Honour (2010). The human rights activist has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.