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March 12th 2003 · Prague Watchdog / Ruslan Isayev · PRINTER FRIENDLY FORMAT · E-MAIL THIS · ALSO AVAILABLE IN: RUSSIAN 

Twenty-four Chechen refugees join hunger strike against referendum

Ruslan Isayev, North Caucasus – Twenty-four Chechen refugees joined two human rights activists who called the hunger strike against the referendum on the new constitution of the Chechen Republic. The activists announced this at an anti-war rally on Monday, in the village of Ordzhonikidzevskaya near the ”Satsita“ camp, where about thirty people took part.

According to the protesters, conditions have not been created in Chechnya for the referendum to take place so that results will not be considered objective.

Nearly everyone on the hunger strike lost relatives during special operations carried out by Russian troops. In early January, these troops ruthlessly dragged Zulay Shakarova´s husband, Visadi, from the camp and his dead body was returned six weeks later. Zulay turned to a number of authorities demanding they find and punish those who murdered her husband, but so far has received no satisfying response. She went on the hunger strike so that other women would not end up as widows.

Last November, Nurdin Dalayev lost his younger brother, Salavdi who, together with three other young people, were stopped in Grozny by Russian soldiers checking documents; their dead bodies were later found on the outskirts. Nurdin has been on the hunger strike for three weeks now and on Monday, his older son, Nazhmuddin, joined him. Like his father he, too, opposes the referendum and wants all military actions to end.

Many in the demonstration carried anti-war banners with signs like “Referendum–War, Talks–Peace” or “Stop the Extermination of Chechen People”.

The rally lasted over an hour and ended when the local police began dispersing the crowd. As the demonstrators left, they vowed to return again every day.

Sulumbek Tashtamirov, head of Chechen human rights organization “Sintar” and one of the rally’s organizers, believes that more people will join the daily protest.

(O/E,T)

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