Swedish Doctors for Human Rights

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Swedish Doctors for Human Rights
Swedish Doctors for Human Rights.jpg
FounderMarcello Ferrada de Noli
Key people
Marcello Ferrada de Noli (Chairman)

Anders Romelsjö (Vice chairman)
Marita Troye-Blomberg
Alberto Gutierrez
Leif Elinder
Ove B. Johansson
Lena Oske

Armando Popa

Swedish Doctors for Human Rights (SWEDHR) is a Sweden-based non-governmental organization that researches and publishes opinion pieces on international affairs. The organization claims to shed light on "health issues of war crimes & Human Rights abuses worldwide",[1] although the views presented on its website often directly contradict those of Human Rights Watch and other mainstream organizations. Despite claiming to have independent views, the organization is viewed by mainstream organizations as a Russian propaganda site,[2][3][4][5][6][7][8] because the views presented by it are consistently in line with those of the Russian government, and are often cited by Russian pro-government media.[9][10]


Swedish Doctors for Human Rights was founded in 2015 by Marcello Ferrada de Noli, a retired Swedish professor emeritus, who was involved with the MIR in his youth in Chile.[11] In spite of its name, not all of its members are medical doctors.[12] One of its founding members, Dr. Leif Elinder, had previously attracted controversy for his personal attacks against the eminent child psychiatrist Christopher Gillberg[13] and his later dismissal from his position at the Swedish Social Insurance Agency for his hard line against applications for sick leave.[14]

The organization also runs an online magazine called The Indicter.[15]

Positions taken by SWEDHR[edit]

During 2015, SWEDHR has advocated against the alleged human rights abuses carried out against Swedish cardiologist and surgeon Fikru Maru, who was held in custody for 23 months in Ethiopia before legal procedures were initiated.[16] The organization has also denounced the aerial attacks against hospitals run by Médecins Sans Frontières in Afghanistan.[17]

In a letter to the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, SWEDHR attacked Swedish Minister of Defense Peter Hultqvist's stance on the issue of Sweden's neutrality and non-alignment.[18] The minister had argued that Swedish membership in NATO was desirable due to Russia's recent military buildup, the illegal annexation of Crimea, the armed conflict in the Ukraine, and the potential threat to the Baltic countries. In their letter, the organization argued that the minister had not shown that a deepening of the Sweden-USA military cooperation would be preferable to a deepening of Swedish neutrality. A few weeks later, three members of the SWEDHR board responded in the same newspaper to a similar article on the possible participation of Sweden in NATO by Professor Wilhelm Agrell.[19] However the views expressed in the response were not approved by the board of directors, and led to the resignation of Leif Elinder as a board member.

Accusations of pro-Russian propaganda[edit]

As of April 2017, the organization is unknown to Amnesty International, the Swedish Medical Association, the Swedish Society of Medicine, and the Swedish affiliate of Human Rights Watch.[2][4]

The causes taken up by the organization have a strong pro-Russian bias. Aside from their opposition to cooperation between Sweden and NATO, they have compared the violent clashes in Odessa that led to the deaths of 46 pro-Russian activists to the Reichstag fire.[20] They also came to the defense of pianist Valentina Lisista, whose online remarks disparaging the Ukrainian government led to the cancellation of a planned concert at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.[21] Their sister publication The Indicter has previously claimed that Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by the Ukrainian army, and not by pro-Russian rebels.

Dr. Ferrada de Noli was interviewed by Russian media[3] about his view that the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack of April 4, 2017 was possibly caused by the opposition groups and not the Syrian government.[2] This was also referenced by Maria Zakharova, the official representative of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at a press conference where she criticized the awarding of the Oscar for Best Documentary to The White Helmets.[9] An examination of the video cited in the article as evidence revealed that it was actually a video of a chemical attack in Sarmin from March 2015. A group of medical specialists in the US and UK examined the video and stated that it was impossible to conclude that it was staged, as claimed by SWEDHR.[4] Reacting to these media appearances, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth described SWEDHR's actions as "propaganda".[22] SWEDHR carried out a similar campaign in April 2018, after the Douma chemical attack[8], which caused the left-wing Swedish magazine ETC to compare it to InfoWars.[8]

SWEDHR also tried to cast doubt on the Russian government's responsibility for the 2018 poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal.[7].[6]


  1. ^ "Swedish Doctors For Human Rights' Manifest" (in Spanish). SWEDHR. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  2. ^ a b c "Gasattacker förnekas med hjälp från svensk läkargrupp". Dagens Nyheter (in Swedish). 21 April 2017. Archived from the original on 21 April 2017. Retrieved 22 April 2017.
  3. ^ a b Avril, Pierre (2017-04-13). "En Russie, une curieuse thèse reprise pour exonérer Damas". Le Figaro (in French). ISSN 0182-5852. Retrieved 2017-05-04.
  4. ^ a b c Patin, Katerina (2017-05-02). "Russia Used a Two-Year-Old Video and an 'Alternative' Swedish Group to Discredit Reports of Syria Gas Attack". Coda Story. Retrieved 2017-05-10.
  5. ^ Gäst (2018-04-13). "Propagandakrig efter gasattacken i Syrien". ETC (in Swedish). Retrieved 2018-04-17.
  6. ^ a b "Svensk grupp används som propaganda av ryska staten". ƒPlus (in Swedish). Retrieved 2018-04-17.
  7. ^ a b "Svensk grupp i rysk propaganda om giftattacken på spion - DN.SE". DN.SE (in Swedish). 2018-04-02. Retrieved 2018-04-17.
  8. ^ a b c Gäst (2018-04-13). "Propagandakrig efter gasattacken i Syrien". ETC (in Swedish). Retrieved 2018-04-17.
  9. ^ a b ""White Helmets Oscar is a farce" - Maria Zakharova". YouTube. Retrieved 2017-05-10.
  10. ^ Sputnik. "White Lies: 'Syria Civil Defense' Caught Faking Rescues, Doctoring Dead Children". sputniknews.com. Retrieved 2017-05-04.
  11. ^ Daniel Avendaño; Mauricio Palma (2001). El rebeldo de la burguesía : la historia de Miguel Enríquez (2001 ed.). Santiago [de Chile]: Ed. CESOC. ISBN 9789562110952.
  12. ^ "Founding Board of Directors – Swedish Doctors for Human Rights". swedhr.org. Retrieved 2017-05-04.
  13. ^ "DN - Debatt - "Rättshaverist skadar dampforskningen"". 2003-03-02. Archived from the original on 2003-03-02. Retrieved 2017-05-10.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  14. ^ Radio, Sveriges. "Omstridd läkare hotas av uppsägning - Nyheter (Ekot)". Retrieved 2017-05-10.
  15. ^ The Indicter.
  16. ^ Eriksson Kjellberg, Charlotta (13 March 2014). "Öppet läkarstöd till Fikru Maru" [Open doctors' support to Fikru Maru]. www.dagensmedicin.se. Dagens Medicin. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  17. ^ (Swedish) ”En skarp protest mot detta oförlåtliga dödande”, Dagens Medicin 6 October 2015 [1]
  18. ^ "Sverige riskerar bli förstahandsmål", Dagens Nyheter 2015-09-02
  19. ^ "Många experter delar inte Agrells slutsatser", Dagens Nyheter 2015-09-14
  20. ^ "Odessa 2 May 2014 – Swedish Doctors for Human Rights". swedhr.org. Retrieved 2017-05-04.
  21. ^ "We defend Valentina Lisitsa's freedom of speech denouncing Ukraine's HR violations – Swedish Doctors for Human Rights". swedhr.org. Retrieved 2017-05-04.
  22. ^ Roth, Kenneth [@KenRoth] (2017-05-03). "To spew propaganda, there used to be GONGOs (government-organized NGOs). Now there are "alternative NGOs." bit.ly/2p3ZjpN" (Tweet). Retrieved 2017-05-24 – via Twitter.

External links[edit]