This week our eyes are focused towards Russia, where the Olympic spotlight has drawn attention to issues of forced evictions, homophobic violence, and other human rights struggles throughout the country. As the Committee to Protect Journalists reports, Russian authorities are doing their best to keep media from covering these issues, making the work of activists and citizen journalists even more important. As the games get underway, check back to the Human Rights Channel for curated footage from the ground.

Here are highlights from recently featured videos on the channel:


In Russia, a campaign by violent hate groups has focused its efforts towards the abuse of LGBT youth on video, using social media to identify and shame its victims. As Human Rights Watch reports, Russian authorities have failed to prosecute those responsible for the widespread hate crimes, despite the fact that perpetrators are often identifiable in their footage. The Human Rights Channel worked with a Russian LGBT activist to curate a sample of those videos. We remind our audience that these videos were filmed as part of the abuse itself, and without the consent of the victims.

Please take steps to protect the identity of the victims by blurring their faces when distributing such images. 


Several Greek students were arrested while protesting fatalities that occurred following the capsize of a boat full of migrants in the Aegean Sea two weeks ago. The activists called on the Greek government to take responsibility for the deaths of the estimated eight children and three women who were killed when a boat carrying Afghans and Syrians capsized while being towed by the Greek coastguard. Survivors have testified that the coastguard acted recklessly while pulling the boat back to Turkey.


In Damascus, food aid arrived in the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk, after dozens of civilians had died of starvation. Another arrival to the camp: music. In this video, a pianist and singers perform amid Yarmouk’s rubble. For more depictions of Yarmouk through the residents’ own drawings and photographs, see this feature on Syria Untold.

We’re also watching:

The recovery of a Syrian media activist who survived an assassination attempt in Kafr Nabl in northern Syria. Raed Fares had just returned from a speaking tour in the United States, where he shared Kafr Nabl’s struggle to survive attacks by the Assad regime, and increasingly, foreign terrorist militias. The Human Rights Channel has featured several videos by the community media center where Fares works, known for their unique and sophisticated messaging of the local protests they document (here’s a recent example), and for their creative video commentary on the Syrian war.

Announcing the Verification Handbook

Finally, WITNESS is proud to have partnered with the European Journalism Centre and others on the Verification Handbook, a new resource on verifying citizen media for reporters and crisis responders. The free online guide contains chapters on Verifying Video, with contributions from our partners at Storyful, on Coping With Traumatic Imagery, my own tips on Assessing and Minimizing Risks When Using USG, and an introduction to WITNESS’ forthcoming guide on evidentiary video.

The most recent citizen videos of human rights issues can always be found on our Citizen Watch and Watching Syria video playlists. Both are updated daily.

Catch the latest citizen videos by following the Human Rights Channel on Twitter (@ythumanrights).

Image from video uploaded by YouTube user Larry Poltavtsev

5 thoughts on “Human Rights Video Weekly: Spotlight on the Sochi Olympics

  1. Bla bla bla. There is no democracy in Russia, there aren’t rights for gays, bla bla bla… Go **** yourself dear human rights activists, and protest in your gay Europe with your Olympic games

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *