One year ago

“Putin nominates Ramzan Kadyrov to remain Chechen leader

“Russian president backs former rebel fighter despite claims he is linked to murder of opposition figure Boris Nemtsov

By  in Moscow

Vladimir Putin has nominated Chechnya’s controversial leader Ramzan Kadyrov for a new term in office, despite claims that the Chechen had links to the murder of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov last year.

Kadyrov, whose term as leader runs out next month, was appointed acting leader by Putin and is expected to stand in elections in September. He had previously said he planned to step down, but most analysts saw this as a ploy to force the Kremlin to back him publicly, after a year in which he has faced criticism from many quarters.

Kadyrov is a former rebel fighter whose father, Akhmad-Khadzhi Kadyrov, switched sides and ran the republic with Moscow’s blessing until his death in a 2004 bomb attack. Since then, Ramzan has been in charge, turning Grozny into a modern city of skyscrapers and new-build apartment blocks, all with the Kremlin’s money. At the same time, a personality cult has grown around Kadyrov, who has humiliated those who dare criticise him.

In return for the loyalty Kadyrov has pledged to Moscow, critics say he has been allowed a free hand to run the republic. Russian law often appears to be secondary to local customs or Kadyrov’s personal whims, and many of those who have investigated abuses by Kadyrov’s forces have met sticky ends.

A high-ranking member of one of the armed battalions under Kadyrov’s control was charged with Nemtsov’s murder in Moscow last year. The politician was shot in the shadow of the Kremlin, a murder which shocked Russia, and there are suspicions that the chain of command goes much higher than the men who have been arrested. However, investigators have been unable to question Kadyrov or his associates over the killing.

Earlier this month, a minibus carrying journalists on a press tour organised by one of the last human rights agencies working in Chechnya was attacked by masked men who beat up the journalists, set the bus on fire and screamed that the group was not welcome in Chechnya. When the agency’s head, Igor Kalyapin, travelled to Grozny to investigate the situation, he was evicted from his hotel and attacked on the street.

While many in the higher echelons of Russian power dislike Kadyrov, he has always retained the support of Putin. The Russian president said on Friday he had reappointed Kadyrov because of “everything that has been done in the past years for the Chechen people first and foremost, and by extension for the whole of Russia”.

He did, however, allude to the impunity which Kadyrov appears to enjoy.

“There needs to be more attention paid to the federal power structures. You, and future leaders of your republic should of course do everything to ensure that Russian laws are obeyed in all spheres of life. I want to emphasise this: in all spheres of life,” Putin said.”
(in https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/25/putin-nominates-ramzan-kadyrov-to-remain-chechen-leader)

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We Have Nothing Else to Sell but Our Teeth, Yulia Gorbunova at Human Rights Watch

Chechens Seeking Asylum in Poland – by Yulia Gorbunova at Human Rights Watch:

“While Europe has been focusing its attention on refugee flows across the Mediterranean, another refugee situation has been building on the Belarus-Poland border. Since late 2015, thousands of asylum seekers, mostly from Russia’s North Caucasus republics of Ingushetia, Dagestan and especially Chechnya, have arrived here, hoping to cross the border into Poland and seek safety.

With the Kremlin’s blessing, Ramzan Kadyrov has been running Chechnya for close to a decade as his own fiefdom, eradicating all forms of dissent. Abduction-style detentions, enforced disappearances and torture are rampant. Russian law and human rights protections exist only on paper; Kadyrov’s orders determine the rules applicable to Chechnya’s daily life.

At the Brest train station in December we spoke to “Tamara”, a Chechen woman in her late forties. She had arrived in Brest, a historic Belarusian city on the Polish border, four months earlier. She had been trying unsuccessfully to cross into Poland ever since, and when her money ran out, she and her three sons slept at the train station for several nights.

Tamara said she fled Chechnya with her family because local “security people” took her oldest son in for questioning when he turned 19, beat him, threatened to send him to fight in Ukraine, and threatened the rest of the family. She understood that the threats were real. Tamara said her brother, who had fought in the first Chechen war in the early 1990s, disappeared in 2006. His body was found in a nearby forest.

Last August, Tamara decided to go to Poland with her children and seek asylum. She had heard people say it was possible, but by the time they arrived at the border, that no longer seemed to be the case. When we spoke to her in December, she had made 24 attempts to cross the border and was sent back to Belarus every time. But they don’t feel safe in Belarus, where Chechen security forces are known to be lurking.

“They don’t listen to us at the border,” she told us. “I say, ‘We are afraid to go back, afraid for our lives. We want asylum.’ The [Polish] border guards just stare and say nothing, then tell us to go and wait. Once a border guard said to us: ‘Go to Kyrgyzstan, go to Turkey. Poland doesn’t want you.’ Another time a man just said, ‘No visa – no entry.’”

During the summer months of 2016, between 400 and 800 asylum seekers a day, most from Chechnya, were trying to cross Belarus-Poland border on the train from Brest to Terespol, the first station in Poland. Numbers decreased in the fall of 2016, due to the weather getting chillier, but also due to Poland cooling off its hospitality. According to the Belarusian rights group Human Constanta, with the exception of a handful of people apparently selected at random, Poland has been summarily rejecting the majority of asylum seekers and returning them to Belarus.

Brest in early December was bleak: grey skies and very cold. After interviewing dozens of families and individuals who have been trying over and over to cross into Poland, my colleague and I decided to get on the train, sit in the carriage assigned to asylum seekers, and see for ourselves what these people went through every day.

Purchasing a ticket was a challenge. “Carriage four?” The stern Belarusian lady behind the glass asked. “What do you need to sit there for? Carriage four is where THEY travel.”

After we convinced her that we were in our right minds, we got the tickets and boarded the train. I spent the journey talking to an anxious-looking white-haired man from Chechnya, who said his 22-year-old son was in trouble with “Kadyrov’s men”. When I asked for details, he glanced at the other migrants nearby and chose not to answer. Instead he said it was his fiftieth attempt to cross.

Like most people we spoke to, the man was upset about how Polish officials treated him. “I don’t expect to be met with flowers,” he said, “But we are not criminals. They treat us like we are animals. I told this woman [a Polish official], my story and said I wanted asylum in Poland. She said, ‘You will not cross the border to Poland. Your case is hopeless. Don’t come again.’”

Yet, the man was hopeful. “This is my last chance. My three-month stay in Belarus expires today. Today the Poles will let me through. I think they will.”

The Polish authorities are under no obligation to give refugee status to everyone who crosses its borders. But under EU and international law, they have the duty to allow people the opportunity to apply for asylum, to consider carefully the merits of their claims, and not to send them back to places where they face a risk of persecution or torture.

In September, Kadyrov expressed doubt that Chechens stuck in Brest are legitimate refugees. He mused on Instagram: “What could be the reason for it if Chechnya is the most stable and most developing region; when such care and social support for those in need does not exist anywhere, including in Europe?” The Polish interior minister made similar statements in August, saying that since there is no war in Chechnya, there are no Chechen refugees.

Belarus has open borders with Russia and in practice does not grant refugee status to Chechens and has in the past detained at least one asylum seeker with a view to deportation.

Every Chechen we interviewed in Brest said they feared for their lives and safety if they were forced back to Russia.

Most of them, especially people in their 50s and 60s, told us they had not wanted to leave home, but felt they had no choice. Many said they had sold everything to make the trip. One woman with gold crowns on her teeth said, “If anyone in Chechnya knew how we come to this train station every day, like homeless beggars, they would think it’s so humiliating. But what can we do? My husband is in danger and my children are in danger. And we have no money left; we sold everything to come here. We have nothing else to sell but our teeth.”

On our way back, at the train station on the Polish side the guards wouldn’t let us board the “refugee carriage”. We argued with them, standing on the cold windy platform. We saw the white-haired man we talked to earlier that morning, inside the carriage of the train going back to Brest. He waved to us through the window, smiled and signalled that the carriage door was locked from the outside. We could only smile and wave in response, before we went to board the carriage with those of us lucky enough to have the choice of whether to return to Brest or not. ”

(in https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/03/07/we-have-nothing-else-sell-our-teeth)

ADDRESS TO THE MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY OF THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE, 23.01.2017

23.01.2017

‘ ADDRESS TO THE MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY OF THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

I urge you to pay attention to this Address, as it is of crucial importance for understanding the roots of the Putin regime’s evil intentions to undermine the world order.

Let each of you draw their own conclusion, according to your conscience 

Let me explain from the very beginning.

As a result of the crackdown on the Chechen Resistance in an unequal and bloody Caucasian War 1780 – 1859, Chechen people was forcibly incorporated into the Russian Empire. This fact was the “historical justification” of the Russian authorities’ self-proclaimed “right” to possession of the Chechen country. This “right” of the Russian consequent authorities – Imperial, Soviet, and current – “entitles” them to grossly violate the rights of this tiny, freedom-loving nation.

The true sons and daughters of the Chechen people in any time have not reconciled with the colonization and the attempts of the Russian authorities to keep the Chechen people’s “rights” as second-class people, “justifying” such treatment under different pretexts and labeling all the Chechens who resisted slavery. Unshakable commitment of the Chechen people to equality and freedom is being played by Russian rulers to their advantage: in order to deliberate escalation of the war, or to instill infighting between the Chechen clans, or otherwise for political, economic and other interests, as well as for gaining impunity in murder of the best sons and daughters of Chechen nation, who did not want to live in slavery   

 One of the most insidious methods of Russian political strategists is to use the formula of “divide and rule”, being perpetrated through special services’ agents of influence. This formula has been implemented to justify their bloody “restoring constitutional order” and “counter-terrorist operation” in Chechnya, during which tremendous crimes were committed: two aggressions, genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Russian State perpetrates terror against civilians CRI, which continues with no end in vision. During this bloody war, from its very beginning, Russia has been manipulating its own Constitution, international law. Russia acts according to the “laws of force” destroying the world order and values accumulated over the centuries by human genius.

Despite all this, the high international organizations, politicians and the international community, for various reasons, did not want to compromise relations with Russia. Thus, the international bodies have ignored and continue to ignore their international obligations and failed to protect the rights of the Chechen people, limiting their reaction to expressing “concern” over the massive bloodshed. Operating basically from a position of “political expediency”, the international bodies considered as “Russia’s internal affair” massive killing of ¼ Chechen civilians, as well as other bloody crimes and gross violations of the international and Russian law, in fact recognizing the “right” to kill with impunity. The political and military forces of Russia, under the former KGB colonel Vladimir Putin rule skillfully played out this “right”. They used tested in CRI vile methods to justify their crimes, laying the blame on the victims of their crimes, and committed new bloody crimes: against Georgia, Ukraine, Syria and continue to commit crimes against their political opponents in Russia and far beyond its borders. This is a direct outcome of letting Russia go unpunished for the carnage in the CRI, which was conceived with far-reaching and insidious objectives and perpetrated in full view of the international community.

Putin began his bloody campaign with orchestrating of incursion of a group of Chechen warriors in Dagestan, followed by the FSB-organized bombing of apartment buildings in Russian cities in September 1999, in which agents of the FSB played a main role. Blaming these heinous acts on “Chechen terrorists” , Putin pledged on the Russian TV “to flush the terrorists in shithouse,” what in criminal jargon referred to the killing of citizens of CRI. This calling for the total murder is itself a grave crime, but inaptness of the international bodies allowed Putin to go further the path of bloody crimes. Political and military forces of Russia supported Vladimir Putin; they altogether raised the poisonous root of all evil, feeding it with human blood. This root gave its first fruit in Chechnya, where “parents” gave it name – terrorism and created conditions for its abundant growth. Now, these fruits are distributed all over the world, making the international relations more and more tense. The fight against international terrorism is expanding its boundaries and can continue as long as artificially grown by Russia in CRI root of evil is being fueled by blood and human suffering.

 The international community and politicians are now finally beginning to realize what a terrible mistake was their failure to stop Russia in Chechnya. In attempt to stop Russia’s aggression, they impose limited sanctions against top Russian oligarchs and officials, but to little effect. Nevertheless, under the influence of Russian propaganda which labeled the entire Chechen nation “terrorists”, the international bodies, including PACE, continue covering up the crimes committed against the Chechen people. However, in order to stop the criminals they must be held accountable for their crimes, individually and legally. Only in this case justice can prevail and the world order be restored.

To achieve this, an independent international investigation is necessary to uncover the massacre and other horrible crimes committed by the Russian political and military forces against the Chechen people. Only justice can neutralize the root of all evil.

The International Association “Peace and Human Rights” prepared statement and documents for the initiation of criminal proceedings against the political and military forces of Russia, led by Putin, for already committed, and the ongoing crimes against the innocent civilians of CRI. These documents will be delivered personally to the Prosecutor General of the ICC. To ensure we won’t be ignored as usual, we have created a “movement for peace, the rule of law and justice” and organized dozens of support groups around the world.

Russia has signed the Statute of the ICC on September 13, 2000, but until 2016 had not ratified it. On November 16, 2016, President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Russia’s refusal to participate in the Rome Statute, hoping to avoid the imminent trial. Thus, the Russian political and military forces are trying to avoid accountability for their crimes, refusing to recognize the International Criminal Court. But if justice is still alive, the perpetrators of heinous crimes must stand trial, whether they want or not. ICC has an option to initiate a criminal case against Russian criminals on the UN Security Council decision, but it seems impossible since Russia has veto power. Another option for ICC to open the trial is proprio motu system, based on information from victims, non-governmental organizations or other sources that the ICC considers appropriate – (Article 15).

We understand that, as far as Russia ignores the international law, even ICC does not have enough will and influence to use their own power to apply the system proprio motu for Chechen case. So we turn for help and support to PACE members, the international community, journalists, state and public figures, the highest international organizations, and all supporters of the rule of law and justice.

Ladies and Gentlemen, do not ignore our calls for objectivity and fairness. We urge you to be consistent to your international obligations to protect human rights and international law. We call upon you: Support our legitimate demand for an independent international investigation of the Chechen issue and bring the killers and criminals to justice for their crimes against the civilian population of Chechnya. This way you have the opportunity to stop the spiral of crime in the world.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the PACE members, we appeal to each of you: please set up a support group for the peace movement, the rule of law and justice. Another option is to declare your support through the press, or any other way you can. The Peace march to ICC will start as soon as weather conditions permit. Your answer please send on E-mail: miriprava@hotmail.com

With respect and best wishes, – president of the International Association “Peace and Human Rights, former Minister of Communications CRI CRI representative in international institutions –

Said-Emin Ibragimov. ‘

(in http://miriprava.org/index.php/pr/233-address-to-the-members-of-parliamentary-assembly-of-the-council-of-europe-.html)

Four Things That Happen When a Language Dies

Four Things That Happen When a Language Dies

This World Mother Language Day, read about why many say we should be fighting to preserve linguistic diversity

By Kat EschnerSMITHSONIAN.COM, FEBRUARY 21, 2017

Languages around the world are dying, and dying fast. Today is International Mother Language Day, started by UNESCO to promote the world’s linguistic diversity.

The grimmest predictions have 90 percent of the world’s languages dying out by the end of this century. Although this might not seem important in the day-to-day life of an English speaker with no personal ties to the culture in which they’re spoken, language loss matters. Here’s what we all lose:

  1. We lose “The expression of a unique vision of what it means to be human”

That’s what academic David Crystal told Paroma Basu for National Geographic in 2009. Basu was writing about India, a country with hundreds of languages, at least seven major language families and rapid language loss.

The effects of that language loss could be “culturally devastating,” Basu wrote. “Each language is a key that can unlock local knowledge about medicinal secrets, ecological wisdom, weather and climate patterns, spiritual attitudes and artistic and mythological histories.”

Languages have naturally risen and fallen in prominence throughout history, she wrote. What makes this different in India as well as throughout the world is the rate at which it’s happening and the number of languages disappearing.

  1. We lose memory of the planet’s many histories and cultures.

The official language of Greenland, wrote Kate Yoder for Grist, is fascinating and unique. It’s “made up of extremely long words that can be customized to any occasion,” she writes. And there are as many of those words as there are sentences in English, one linguist who specializes in Greenlandic told her. Some of those, like words for different kinds of wind, are disappearing before linguists get the chance to explore them. And that disappearance has broader implications for the understanding of how humans process language, linguist Lenore Grenoble told Yoder. “There’s a lot we don’t know about how it works, or how the mind works when it does this,” she said.

Yoder’s article dealt with the effect of climate change on language loss. In sum: it hastens language loss as people migrate to more central, “safe” ground when their own land is threatened by intense storms, sea level rise, drought and other things caused by climate change. “When people settle in a new place, they begin a new life, complete with new surroundings, new traditions, and, yes, a new language,” she wrote.

  1. We lose some of the best local resources for combatting environmental threats

As Nancy Rivenburgh wrote for the International Association of Conference Interpreters, what’s happening with today’s language loss is actually quite different from anything that happened before. Languages in the past disappeared and were born anew, she writes, but “they did so in a state of what linguists call ‘linguistic equilibrium.’ In the last 500 years, however, the equilibrium that characterized much of human history is now gone. And the world’s dominant languages—or what are often called ‘metropolitan’ languages—are all now rapidly expanding at the expense of ‘peripheral’ indigenous languages. Those peripheral languages are not being replaced.”

That means that out of the around 7000 languages that most reputable sources estimate are spoken globally, only the top 100 are widely spoken. And it isn’t just our understanding of the human mind that’s impaired, she writes. In many places, indigenous languages and their speakers are rich sources of information about the world around them and the plants and animals in the area where they live. In a time of mass extinction, that knowledge is especially precious.

“Medical science loses potential cures,” she writes. “Resource planners and national governments lose accumulated wisdom regarding the management of marine and land resources in fragile ecosystems.”

  1. Some people lose their mother tongue.

The real tragedy of all this might just be all of the people who find themselves unable to speak their first language, the language they learned how to describe the world in. Some find themselves in the unenviable position of being one of the few (or the only) speakers of their mother tongue. And some, like many of Canada’s indigenous peoples, find their language in grave danger as the result of a campaign by government to stamp out their cultures.

This loss is something beyond all the other losses, linguist John Lipski told Lisa Duchene for Penn State News: “Imagine being told you can’t use your language and you’ll see what that undefinable ‘more’ is,” he said.

What can you do about all this? Educate yourself, to start with. The Smithsonian’s annual Mother Tongue Film Festival takes place every February in Washington, D.C. And projects like National Geographic‘s “Enduring Voices” are a great place to learn about endangered languages and their many speakers, and UNESCO’s own website is another resource.  There’s still hope for some of these languages if we pay attention.

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/four-things-happen-when-language-dies-and-one-thing-you-can-do-help-180962188/#odVtdYpUT8DquJwq.99
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