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March 4th 2003 · Prague Watchdog / Ruslan Isayev · PRINTER FRIENDLY FORMAT · E-MAIL THIS · ALSO AVAILABLE IN: RUSSIAN 

Two human rights activists go on hunger strike in protest against referendum

Ruslan Isayev, Northern Caucasus – On Monday two Chechen human rights activists announced they are on a hunger strike to protest the forthcoming referendum on the new constitution of the Chechen Republic.

Although Sulumbek Tashtamirov, chairman of the human rights organization “Sintar”, and Dalayev Nurdi, one of its members, started their strike on February 26, they only decided to announce it now. These men want the referendum to be cancelled, claiming that prerequisites for holding such a public display of opinion have not yet been established in Chechnya.

“I do not understand how one could hold a referendum when civilians are being killed on a daily basis,” says Tashtamirov. According to him, an act like this requires a stable foundation since a referendum constitutes one of the highest forms of democracy.

Tashtamirov believes that on March 23 similar protests will be held in many Chechen villages and towns. About 30 people in Ingush refugee camps alone have expressed their readiness to go on a hunger strike; however, this is not intended to be a mass action event. Ingush authorities have recently forbidden refugees to hold any rallies, or publicly express any protest against federal leadership.

“But that doesn’t mean people will not protest,” remarked the human rights activist. “Anyone who goes on a hunger strike will simply stay home.”

(D/E,T)

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