Attempts made to close down Chechen NGO
By Umalt Chadayev
CHECHNYA – The Chechen branch of Russia’s Federal Registration Service is seeking the closure of the Union of Non-Governmental Organizations (SNO), a group which disseminates information about the human rights situation in Chechnya and Ingushetia.
The group was initially accused of committing a number of administrative irregularities, and to this the charge of "inciting ethnic discord” has now been added.
"In recent months our organization has been subjected to numerous inspections by police and taxation officials," says Taisa Isayeva, the director of SNO’s Information Centre. "These inspections have even been joined by representatives of the law enforcement agencies of the Southern Federal District. We are convinced that a deliberate campaign of harassment is currently being conducted against our organization, with the aim of closing it down on apparently respectable pretexts."
Recently, a request was made for a “linguistic examination” to be carried out on a publication issued by SNO last autumn. It was claimed that the booklet, entitled "Women and Children. The Right to Life", contained language likely to incite inter-ethnic strife. Released in a print run of 999 copies, the booklet contains texts in Russian and English by public figures, artists, human rights defenders and other persons well-known in the Chechen Republic about the killings and massacres of women and children by federal Russian soldiers in Chechnya during the two recent wars there. The booklet’s launch in Grozny was attended by Chechen members of parliament, the staff of the office of the Chechen Human Rights Commissioner, and representatives of NGOs, who praised the publication.
"In releasing this booklet we had only one goal: to show what war – any war – can do to peaceful civilians. We believe that it is morally indefensible to attempt to justify war, which brings pain, grief, blood and tears to hundreds of thousands of people. War is primarily evil, and all the rest follows from that,” says Taisa Isayeva.
“The next hearing [at the Supreme Court] is scheduled for February 13. According to information we have obtained from confidential sources, the court is under pressure from members of one of the federal law enforcement agencies which is demanding the closure of our organization. We intend to seek justice by all available means," Isayeva concludes.
Report translated by David McDuff.
A foreword to the booklet, which, according to the Chechen branch of Russia’s Federal Registration Service, contains stories that incite ethnic discord:
A lot of stories were told and written about the war on the territory of the Chechen Republic, which has been lasting for more than 12 years. Hundreds thousand killed, crippled and missing citizens, totally destroyed cities and village – that is the sad result of two military campaigns in the Chechen Republic.
Our bulletin does not attempt to give any legal or political evaluation of what occurred in the Chechen Republic. We simply aim to inform our readers about pain and truth of the people who have lost all that the person can have - the children, brothers, sisters, wives and relatives.
The whole world learned about the tragedy of the settlement of Samashki in 1995, about atrocities of militaries in the villages of Aldy, Kotar-Yurt, Alkhan-Yurt, Saadi-Kotar (Komsomolskoe) in 2000. The rocket bombardment of the center of the city of Grozny in October of 1999, when hundreds peaceful citizens died and were injured, shooting attack of refugee columns in winter of the same year and many other things had became well-known in the world. It is well known that in the course of military activities the peaceful population, women, old men and children usually are the most vulnerable.
This bulletin contains stories of people of different age, specialties and interests, representatives of the literati. Each of them differently, but at the same time, identically perceived tragedy and pain of strangers. They sympathize the grief touched the people who very often absolutely unfamiliar to them. The only question, which we asked our respondents, was which case occurred to women and children at the war shocked them profoundly with its cruelty.
Among these stories there are also stories told by ordinary people, who experienced personal tragedies. It is the story of a father, who lost two daughters during the first military campaign, and in the course of the second war he lost their graves. Or the story of a husband whose pregnant wife was raped and brutally killed, who himself conducted investigation of the circumstances of the violent execution of his wife and established names of all murderers.
We witnessed how the adults, who experienced so much in their life, went through two wars, and now answering this simple question, started worrying and being nervous at once. It was felt, that, recalling those events, they again unconsciously started experience that shock which they had already been gone through once.
Each of these stories is a whole history which allows us to imagine scales of that, what was happening here in the course of military actions, and the answer to the question: “Where does each war lead to?” regardless of where it goes.
The booklet can be read on the website of the Union of Non-Governmental Organizations.
(T) RELATED ARTICLES:
· Ingush public opinion expresses opposition to harassment of "Voice of Beslan" (PW, 16.1.2008)
· Chechen human rights workers believe authorities may soon increase pressure on NGOs (PW, 24.2.2006)