International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances – ‘Barzakh’ film screening and panel discussion
On 30 August, to mark the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, EHRAC and Bertha Dochouse will present a screening of ‘Barzakh’, an award-winning documentary by Director Mantas Kvedaravičius. The screening, at the Curzon Bloomsbury cinema in central London, will be followed by a panel discussion and Q&A.
This event aims to raise awareness of Russia’s use of the crime of enforced disappearance as a tool of war, in Chechnya and more recently in Ukraine, and the ongoing impact on the families of the disappeared, who live a half-life, doubtful about the survival of their disappeared loved ones, but never fully reconciled to their deaths.
From the beginning of the first Russian-Chechen war in 1994, many people have been ‘disappeared’ from their towns – arrested, abducted, killed by State Security forces – and nothing has been heard of them since. In the Chechen language, ‘Barzakh’ means the land between the living and the dead, reflecting the limbo experienced by the relatives of the disappeared of not knowing about the fate of their loved ones.
Following the screening of ‘Barzakh’, a panel of experts will discuss the human cost of Russia’s actions in Chechnya and Ukraine, focusing on the ongoing suffering of the families of the disappeared.
Lithuanian filmmaker and anthropologist Mantas Kvedaravičius was killed in April 2022 while filming in the besieged city of Mariupol, Ukraine. This screening also pays tribute to Kvedaravičius’ talent and compassionate filmmaking.
- Jessica Gavron, EHRAC (introductions)
- Akhmed Gisaev, Human Rights Analysis Centre
- Tetiana Pechonchyk, ZMINA (appearing via Zoom from Kyiv)
- Dr Sarah Whittaker, Trauma Treatment International
Chair: Mariat Imaeva, EHRAC
Akhmed Gisaev is a human rights lawyer and Director of the Human Rights Analysis Centre, based in Oslo. He previously worked at Memorial Human Rights Centre in Chechnya and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee in Oslo. Akhmed is featured in ‘Barzakh’ and accompanied the film’s Director, Mantas Kvedaravičius, during production.
Tetiana Pechonchyk is the head of the Human Rights Centre ZMINA. ZMINA focuses on protecting freedom of speech, assembly, and association; preventing torture; combating discrimination, and protecting human rights defenders and civil activists in Ukraine. Following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, ZMINA came together with 30 other NGOs to launch the Ukraine 5AM Coalition.
Dr Sarah Whittaker is Head of Clinical Services for Trauma Treatment International. A clinical psychologist, Sarah is an expert in the assessment and treatment of victims of trauma. She has also acted as an expert witness in a large-scale war crimes investigation.
Jessica Gavron is Co-Director, Head of Legal, at EHRAC. A UK barrister, Jess has over 20 years’ experience of litigating cases against Russia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Armenia, on behalf of victims of gross human rights violations.
Mariat Imaeva is a part-time international advocacy consultant at EHRAC, focusing on a project relating to enforced disappearances in the North Caucasus. She has previously worked at REDRESS, Amnesty International and Front Line Defenders.
Upon its release, ‘Barzakh’ (2011) won two awards at the Berlin International Film Festival, including the Amnesty International Film Prize. It received further awards at film festivals in the Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania and Serbia.
EHRAC is based in London and was founded in 2003 to litigate cases arising from the armed conflict in the North Caucasus at the European Court of Human Rights. Over the 20 years since, EHRAC has expanded to support human rights defenders in Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia to challenge serious human rights abuses using international legal mechanisms.
EHRAC has partnered with over 100 lawyers from across the region, representing more than 1200 applicants in over 450 cases.
In August 2022, EHRAC launched the Enforced Disappearance Legal Database, the first international legal resource on the legal frameworks and jurisprudence developed in relation to enforced disappearances around the world.
- 6.00pm Doors open
- 6.30pm Introduction by Jessica Gavron, Co-Director, EHRAC
- 6.45pm Screening of film
- 7.45pm Panel discussion and Q&A
- 8.30pm Drinks reception
Tickets for the screening (including the panel discussion and Q&A) can be booked on the Curzon Bloomsbury website.