Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 43

Representatives of a number of Chechen refugee organizations have appealed to the European Parliament to take measures to end the war in Chechnya, Kavkazky Uzel reported on November 16. “Our appeal is connected to the fact that over 11 years, Russia has carried out a total war against the Chechen people and their state aimed at the destruction of the Chechen people, with silent observation by the West,” the appeal read. “Over the entire 11 years, Moscow had been carrying out provocation work throughout the world to portray the Chechens as a criminal nation unable to exist independently within the borders of their state. In actual fact, it is completely otherwise: the Chechen people, strictly following the norms of international law, reestablished their statehood in 1991, holding a referendum on 25 November 1990 in which the will of the people for the reconstruction of a sovereign Chechen state was expressed.” The appeal’s signatories said they were calling for an end to military operations in and the removal of Russian troops from Chechnya; the creation of conditions allowing “the reconstruction of Chechen statehood, guided by the norms of international law and the Constitution of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (ChRI), adopted 12 March 1992; and a boycott of “all illegal elections in the occupied territories of the Chechen state, including parliamentary elections.”

The Chechen refugee leaders called on deputies of the European Parliament to act according to international law to work for “establishing justice and peace in Chechnya, which is part of Europe” and the “immediate consideration of the issue of Chechen refugees in Europe.” The appeal said that Chechen refugees are in many cases “unsettled” and that there have been cases of refugees being handed over to the “Russian police machine, which then destroys them.”

The appeal was signed by representatives of Chechen organizations in Georgia, Azerbaijan, Poland, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Great Britain, France, Spain, Germany, Austria, Italy, Turkey, and Greece, along with members of the “Noi” Worldwide Foundation of Chechens, the Society to Protect the ChRI, Peace and Human Rights international association, the “Sintem” social organization, and the International Committee for the Protection of Human Rights in the ChRI. Members of these organizations were set to hold a demonstration outside the European Parliament building in Strasbourg on November 16 to inform European parliamentarians and the international community about “the true state of affairs on the territory of [Chechnya] in order to hasten the resolution of the issue of returning Chechen refugees to a free democratic Chechnya, where each person could feel safe.” Last month, representatives of the same Chechen groups held a protest in Strasbourg against the “illegal elections” in Chechnya – meaning the parliamentary elections set for November 27 – and the “oppression” of Chechen refugees in Europe.

Meanwhile, the separatist Chechenpress website posted a report on November 13 about a meeting of Chechen refugees in Cologne, Germany, at which they discussed “the current unfavorable situation for Chechen refugees in Cologne, Duesseldorf, Duisburg” and other German cities. “Many Chechens, having lived here for five or six years, are receiving notifications from German courts that they must leave the country,” the separatist website reported. It quoted one Chechen refugee, identified as Akhmed I., as saying: “No one would be able to keep me here if my country was safe for my children. The war has been going on for 11 years, but the situation has not changed at all. We are very alarmed and do not understand on what grounds the German authorities think that Russia is safe for Chechens.”

The refugees at the Cologne meeting adopted a resolution stating that taking into account “the actual refusal of some German courts to examine appeals filed by refugees against unfair decisions of migration services” and that “Chechen refugees who have been rejected by the court of last resort are in danger of being deported by force to the country in which their lives, health and freedom will be threatened,” it is necessary to protest the decisions of German courts to deport Chechen refugees, to “appeal to our countrymen to unite their efforts to defend their rights and to take active part in collecting and systematizing information about violations in the procedure of seeking asylum,” and to “appeal to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and other European organizations that guarantee human rights to carry out a legal examination of the decisions of German courts to deport the Chechens to the country they left fearing for their lives.”