The London Review of Books has a diary piece by Anna Neistat, a human rights activist working Chechnya:
"In this atmosphere of fear, despair and mistrust, Chechens are reluctant to talk about their experiences to visiting human rights researchers or local human rights groups. Those who agree to talk ask us not to mention their names, their villages, or anything that would enable the authorities to identify them. The Kadyrovtsy, they believe, will find them wherever they are. As one elderly Chechen put it, 'Every word you say will be used against you.'
A few months ago, Movlid M.'s wife and brother left their home in a small village in central Chechnya, for a short trip to a nearby town. They never returned. Movlid started looking for them. After his brother's burned-out car was found, he petitioned the authorities, requesting an investigation. Eventually he was called in to identify his brother's mutilated body, which had been found in a remote forest. He redoubled his efforts to find his wife and repeatedly visited the prosecutor's office and police stations, to no effect.
These killings, disappearances and acts of torture are happening, unabated, in a country that is a member of the newly formed UN Human Rights Council. Russia is the current chair of the Council of Europe and is preparing to host the G8 summit, to be attended by George Bush, Tony Blair and other world leaders, in St Petersburg later this month. This incongruity is hard to fathom, just as it is hard to understand how European governments – in spite of their much touted commitment to human rights and the rule of law – can continue to refuse to raise the issue of the continuing abuses in the region. It used to be the case that one could at least be certain that Western governments would speak out against human rights abuses in the USSR. There can be no such certainty with respect to Putin’s Russia."
Tony Blair and the Neo-Labour clones, who trotted out on Question Time or Newsnight to defend Iraq as a 'humanitarian' war, continue to remain silent about the tragedy and horror of Chechnya. Where the world rushed to demand the independence of East Timor, it remains silent in the face of Chechen demands. Is it any wonder then that, in the face of rebuffs to legitimate concerns, the space is filled by extremists and bandits?
Please visit the Save Chechnya campaign for more information and see if you can help by raising awareness.