Human rights defenders: Despite referendum, the situation in Chechnya remains unchanged
Timur Aliyev, North Caucasus - Following the constitutional referendum of March 23, the human rights situation in Chechnya has not improved, stated Chechen human rights defenders at a conference in Nazran on April 20.
According to them, the so-called mop-up operations are still continuing and people are still disappearing. “All was peaceful during the first two weeks after the referendum, but then everything started up again,” said Libkhan Bazayeva of the Memorial human rights center.
Participants in the conference said that political repression has intensified, particularly against those who opposed the referendum. According to independent human rights activist Tamara Kalayeva, one of the more vociferous opponents, Musa Vashayev, recently disappeared in Argun. Kalayeva added that in the Chechen town of Argun the family of Sayd-Khasan Abumuslimov, who is Maskhadov’s envoy to Germany, is also being persecuted.
The human rights activists reiterated their belief that the referendum was indecisive and has no legal power. At Memorial’s initiative, the activists decided to find out what the situation looked like in Chechnya on the day of the referendum. Based on a special questionnaire that was circulated, they will try to compile facts on what occurred in each settlement on March 23. Usam Baysayev of Memorial noted: “We have to ascertain whether at least 50% of the population went to the polling stations.”
They also decided to request the UN and OSCE to support PACE’s initiative to establish a war crimes tribunal for crimes committed in Chechnya from 1994. Chechen NGOs are willing to cooperate with PACE and other international organizations, and to present all the information they have gathered on human rights violations in Chechnya.
Human rights activists called on the international community to intervene and put a stop to military actions in the country and begin peace talks.