One of the main events of 2022 was the awarding of the Peace Nobel Prize 2022 to human rights advocate Ales Bialiatski from Belarus, the Russian human rights organisation Memorial and the Ukrainian human rights organisation Center for Civil Liberties. Before the end of this year, ICA would like to congratulate once again the three recipients but especially Memorial as the selection of this organization shows how important it is to document war crimes and human right abuses to criticise power and protect the fundamental rights of citizens.
Since it was founded over 30 years ago as a nongovernmental organization dedicated to preserving the memory of Soviet-era political repressions, International Memorial has grown into an archive of world importance. Memorial’s Archives contains more than 60,000 files on persons who were repressed during the Soviet period, as well as files on dissidents, photos and videos, and oral histories. From these files, Memorial has developed various databases, of which the list of victims of political repression and the list of NKVD staff in the 1930s are notable. The archival materials are open to researchers unless the person transferring the documents to Memorial has specified that they be restricted from public use. The Archives provides assistance to people searching for information about repressed relatives.
The Nobel Prize given to this organization reinforces the importance of one of the principles of the Universal Declaration on Archives:
“Open access to archives enriches our knowledge of human society, promotes democracy, protects citizens’ rights and enhances the quality of life.”
As it was stated last March, and now acquires even more relevancy, ICA strongly believes that the uniquely valuable holdings of International Memorial—archival, bibliographic, and museum artifacts--should be protected and the records made continuously available as a tool to ensure that history of the past is preserved with dignity and accuracy.