Chechen rights abuses ‘expanding’

Contrary to official claims, the situation in Chechnya is far from stabilising and human-rights abuses committed by Russian forces are increasingly expanding into neighbouring Ingushetia, Amnesty International has said.

Few families have been 'left untouched by rights violations'
Few families have been 'left untouched by rights violations'

Only a handful of Chechen families have been left untouched by rampant human-rights violations by federal and local pro-Kremlin forces, said Mariana Katsarova, presenting a report compiled by the London-based human-rights organisation.

While men fall victim to mysterious abductions, women are subjected to arbitrary detentions, torture and rape, the group said.

Condemning continued human-rights violations by Russian forces in Chechnya, including extra-judicial killings and disappearances, Amnesty said that these abuses were now common in Ingushetia.

“The human-rights violations that have long been the hallmark of the Chechnya conflict are spilling over into Ingushetia. During the first few months of 2004, dozens of people have reportedly disappeared and human-rights groups have documented a number of summary executions,” it said.

Federal soldiers and members of the local special security services headed by Ramzan Kadyrov, the Chechen vice-president and son of late president Ahmad Kadyrov, are increasingly targeting rights activists, Katsarova said.

Imran Ezhiyev, head of the Society of Russian-Chechen Friendship, a leading rights group active in Chechnya, has been detained 17 times and has been tortured, including having his teeth filed, she said. 

Suits filed

At least 92 people were killed in arecent rebel attack in Ingushetia

At least 92 people were killed in a
recent rebel attack in Ingushetia

Those who have filed, or plan to file, suits with the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights are also persecuted – harassed, threatened and with their relatives getting killed or abducted, she said.

The Amnesty report, which dismissed Russian efforts to portray a “normalisation” of the situation in and around Chechnya, called on the international community to put pressure on Moscow to bring the rights abuses to a halt.

“In spite of repeated claims from Russian and pro-Moscow Chechen officials that the situation is ‘normalising’, Amnesty International states that the conflict and the accompanying human-rights abuses are far from ‘normal’,” it said.
Wanted lists

She told of 13 Ingush and one Chechen woman, all residents of Ingushetia, whose pictures have been posted on a federal wanted list of suspected “suicide bombers”. The women are, in fact, doctors working in the Ingush office of the US International Medical Corps, Katsarova said.

Rights groups say Russian forcesin Chechnya are guilty of abuses

Rights groups say Russian forces
in Chechnya are guilty of abuses

The organisation’s representatives met with regional Federal Security Service officials, prompting them to recognise the error. However, the women are still being searched for, Katsarova said.

Russian forces reinvaded Chechnya in 1999 in an attempt to crush surging separatist sentiment. They have routinely been accused of human-rights abuses.

Some estimates put the number of civilian lives lost in Chechnya at 70,000 since the first war of independence in 1994.

“The Russian government wants to present the situation there as normal peaceful life, but this is ridiculous. People are still disappearing. The conflict is spreading outside Chechnya,” she said.

At least 92 people died and 120 were wounded in a night-time attack in the republic of Ingushetia earlier this week, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported, citing the regional government.

Sixty-seven of the dead were members of law-enforcement agencies, ITAR-Tass said.

Source : News Agencies

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