Myroslav Marynovich, a former prisoner of conscience, speaks to Amnesty International staff in London, UK, March 2010.
© Amnesty International
“I joined Amnesty International in 1977 – but not as a member: as a prisoner of conscience.”
A former prisoner of conscience found his own way of saying “thanks” to the people who campaigned for his freedom.
• Myroslav Marynovich was sentenced to seven years’ hard labour and five years in exile.
• He went on to set up the Ukraine’s first Amnesty International group.
Myroslav Marynovich was an outspoken defender of human rights in the former Soviet Union. In the early hours of 23 April 1977, 20 state agents arrested him at his home. After a long trial he was sentenced to seven years’ hard labour and five years in exile for “Anti-Soviet Agitation and Propaganda”.
Amnesty International members from around the world wrote to the Soviet authorities calling for his release. A local group in Avignon, France were particularly active. “I joined Amnesty International in 1977 – but not as a member: as a prisoner of conscience,” Myroslav said in an interview many years later.
During his exile in Kazakhstan, Myroslav found out about Amnesty International‘s work. He decided to set up a group in his home town, Drohobych, in Western Ukraine, as a “way of thanking Amnesty International.”
He realized this ambition in 1991 after visiting the Avignon group that had campaigned for his release. His Drohobych group went on to campaign on behalf of other prisoners of conscience around the world. It also started a programme of human rights education for teachers. The group soon joined with others in cities and villages across Ukraine. To this day, they continue to grow. In a recent interview, Myroslav Marynovich said: “I feel deep gratitude to Amnesty”.
Amnesty International’s campaign for Freedom of Expression is calling on governments to end repression, free prisoners of conscience, and bring those responsible for human rights abuses to justice. Visit http://www.amnesty.org/en/50/campaigns/freedom-of-expression