Think Russia Is Bad? Listen To This Imprisoned Human Rights Activist...

Think Russia Is Bad? Listen To This Imprisoned Human Rights Activist...
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

Please bare with me a bit, English is not my strong suit. I wanted to write when I heard American television was airing segments critical of Vladimir Putin because a Russian activist was sentenced to 15 days in prison. In my country things can be much worse.

I’m a human rights activist. I am not accused of hurting a soul, and the authorities in my homeland have kept me locked up for over a year. My “crime” was standing up for a chronically ill, learning disabled, teenage girl in my area. A neurologist named Juriaan Peters and a psychologist named Simona Bujoreanu conspired with my government to take her away from her parents. To do so, misleading statements against her family were put on a sworn court document and they were stripped of custody.

Many nations have freedom of expression and a free press. The judge in this girl’s case forbade her parents from talking to journalists, and other laws made it difficult or even illegal for outsiders to verify information.

The accused in developed nations have the right to have bail decided promptly. It took over five months for me to be denied bail.

The girl was taken off her vital medicines for her chronic condition, including her pain killers. She was left in constant agony, and locked in a notorious psych ward. My nation is the only one in the world that hasn’t ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. That treaty, the most widely adopted human rights accord in history, could have protected her.

Regardless, what they did to the girl and her family was so terrible, I argued it violates the Convention against Torture, which my country has ratified. All nations that ratify the Convention against Torture are obligated to investigate, prosecute, and punish all such human rights violations, but my government gives a lot of money to the place that employs these particular doctors and though law enforcement here acknowledge they know of the alleged abuse, they have not investigated it. Further, despite other obligations under the convention, I was placed in solitary confinement for 80 days because I went on a hunger strike protesting against such abuse of children and political prosecutions. I don’t want other children to suffer as she did, and I knew my father was sick and I wanted to see him.

My hunger strike lasted 100 days and I lost 50 pounds. Still my government refused to help the children and threatened to tie my limbs to bedposts, strap my head still, force a feeding tube up my nose and down my throat, and leave me that way for hours, as they routinely do to others. Mine is one of the only nations on earth where “doctors” still practice such barbarism on behalf of the government.

Our president at the time of my arrest in 2016 came to power with promises to restore the sanctity of human rights here, to stop detaining people without charges, and to have a transparent administration, but like many who rise to prominence saying such things, he instead ran the most opaque government in recent memory. He cracked down on whistle blowers and ignored the Convention Against Torture when it wasn’t convenient.

My mother cries when she hears what they have done and threatened to do me, but I can’t give up or it’s all for nothing and the abuse will continue. That girl was just the latest of many. Still, the odds of success are not good without the help of the American government and people. I hope, if I can get their attention, American celebrities and pundits will get involved.

Otherwise I face up to 25 years in prison from a court that convicts 98 percent of the people the government indicts. At my trial, I won’t be allowed to even mention how the girl was suffering, how she is now paralyzed in a wheel chair, or how there are so many others like her.

Even though he didn’t hurt a soul either, they compared the last activist they used the same law against to a rapist. He knew what he would and wouldn’t be allowed to state at his trial. He fought them for about as long as I have before he killed himself. In the jail where I am, five others have tried to kill themselves since February. One man died within 24 hours of arrival. His family doesn’t know what happened, authorities won’t really answer their questions.

My father worried for me for the last year, before he died on Saturday. I wasn’t able to see him in all that time.

Can you guess what country I’m from?

My name is Martin Gottesfeld and I’m a federal pre-trial detainee in the United States. The girl I spoke of is Justina Pelletier. Dr. Juriaan Peters and Dr. Simona Bujoreanu work at Boston Children’s Hospital. Here is Justina’s father describing what happened to her there.

She’s been in severe pain non-stop for 24 hours a day for 13 months..” – Lou Pelletier

The last activist I spoke of is the unforgettable Aaron Swartz.

I’ve asked the court for temporary bail to deliver the eulogy at my father’s funeral this Saturday. I’m his only surviving son. My attorney tells me to expect bitter resistance from the same U.S. Attorney’s office that called Aaron a rapist and pursued him to his grave. I am being prosecuted by Adam J. Bookbinder and I am awaiting a ruling from Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler whose husband is a professor at Harvard Medical School. Boston Children’s Hospital is the primary pediatric program of Harvard Medical School.

To learn more about Martin Gottesfeld please visit or check out the FreeMartyG Facebook page or @FreeMartyG Twitter account.

Before You Go


Popular in the Community


What's Hot