Thursday, July 27, 2006

Russia Convicted by Court of Europe

On Thursday, the European Court of Human Rights made its first ruling on Russia's war in Chechnya, BBC reports. The verdict, which rules Russia guilty of the disappearance of a Chechen man in 1999, is a landmark in dealing with human rights violations in Chechnya. Above all, it sets a precedent for the some 200 similar cases that are pending ruling by the Court of Europe.

In 1999, 25-year-old Khadzhi-Murat Yandiyev disappeared in Chechnya after being detained by Russian troops. In 2000, his mother, Fatima Bazorkina, was shocked by seeing her disappeared son on television. The footage shows how Russian troops have detained her son in the village of Alkhan-Kala, and how a Russian general questions him. In the end, the general shouts: "Take him away, finish him off, shoot him, damn it!" Since then, there are no reports of Yandiyev's destiny, and he is supposed dead. The general giving the order, Alexander Baranov, has later been promoted and awarded the order Hero of Russia.

In 2001, Yandiyev's mother filed a complaint against Russia to the the Court of Europe. As many other relatives of the estimated 5000 people who have disappeared in Chechnya since 1999, Bazorkina has fought a long and arduous legal battle to find out what happened to her son. Even if the European Court ruling will not reveal this, the verdict still serves to recognise the tragic deaths of individuals bereft of their human rights in Chechnya.

The ruling thus signifies the rehabilitation of human value in the face of extensive Russian war crimes in Chechnya. Above all, however, it comes as a welcome sign that Chechnya has not been forgotten, and that law eventually will prevail - this at a time when both the EU and the US have remained silent on Chechnya since 2001.

No comments: