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    Media Statement The bloodshed and destruction in Chechnya continue unabated by Abdul Basir 7 January 2000 Russia s bloody military campaign in Chechnya has
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 7, 2000
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      Media Statement


      The bloodshed and destruction in
      Chechnya continue unabated

      by Abdul Basir
      7 January 2000

      Russia's bloody military campaign in Chechnya has entered its
      fourth month. The
      indiscriminate and disproportionate artillery and air
      bombardment of cities and villages
      continue unabated. Thousands of civilians have lost their
      lives, tens of thousands have fled
      their homes and tens of thousands more are trapped in war
      zones with little food enduring
      the round-the-clock bombardment by Russian forces.

      The war has caused irreparable physical destruction in
      Chechnya. Entire towns and villages
      have been levelled to the ground. Schools, hospitals, markets
      and office buildings have
      been pillaged.

      Reports from Chechnya tell of civilian massacres by Russian
      troops in areas captured from
      Chechen fighters. A videotape smuggled out from Alkhan-Yurt a
      village near Grozny shows
      distraught villagers with tales of summary execution,
      truckloads of looted goods and burned
      and pillaged homes. 23 civilians were gunned down by Russian
      troops in this village.

      There are tens of thousands of civilians still trapped inside
      Grozny spending their day and
      night in cellar rooms without adequate food and water under
      the heavy artillery and air
      bombardment. Those who have fled the fighting to neighbouring
      Ingushetia have received
      meagre attention from international relief agencies. In order
      to cover up the atrocities in
      Chechnya, the Russians have not allowed the aid agencies to
      enter the region.

      Ironically, all the repression and genocide in Chechnya have
      not been enough to compel
      the international community to act. The United Nations, the
      United States, the European
      Union and the Organisation of Islamic Conference have been
      disgracefully silent. They have
      allowed the Russian voluntary army to perpetrate a genocide of
      gigantic proportions.

      Undoubtedly, the shameful silence, over atrocities in
      Chechnya, by the big powers smacks
      of double standards and favouritism in their defence of human
      rights. They act only when
      their national interest is at stake. Hence, the ethnic
      conflicts, wars and famines that fall
      outside their sphere of national and international interest go
      unaddressed.

      In 1994 Russia launched the first wave of its military
      offensive in Chechnya. The operation
      lasted three years resulting in the killings of tens of
      thousands of Chechens, mostly
      civilians. According to General Lebed, the head of the Russian
      delegation who brokered the
      peace deal between Chechnya and Russia, between 70,000 to
      90,000 people lost their
      lives and some 240,000 were wounded or maimed. James Collins,
      a US State Department
      official, in his testimony given to the Helsinki Commission on
      January 27, 1997, cited
      estimates of 455,000 persons displaced by the fighting, of
      whom some 260,000 were in
      Chechnya proper, 130,000 in Ingushetia, 45,000 in Daghestan
      and 20,000 elsewhere.

      The big powers kept silent throughout the war calling it an
      internal Russian matter. And
      their disgraceful silence still continues.

      One should bear in mind that the protection of human rights is
      not a matter of choice.
      Everyone's basic rights have to be defended and honoured at
      all times and in all countries.
      Religious, ideological, ethnic and cultural differences must
      not stop us from protecting the
      rights of innocent people. We are all a single humanity. As
      there is no one among us who
      is less 'human', the protection of no one's rights should be
      considered less important.


      The International Movement for a Just World urges the
      international community to raise
      their voice and take decisive action in the defence of human
      rights in Chechnya. The UN,
      the US and the European Union have the moral responsibility to
      stop Russia from causing
      further death and destruction in Chechnya. Like any other
      human beings, Chechens have
      the right to live.



      Abdul Basir is an Executive Officer in the International
      Movement for a Just World
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