Conflict in Tjetsjenië

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In de Raad van Europa wordt regelmatig gesproken over Tsjetsjenië en de mensenrechten situatie aldaar. Ik maak me regelmatig boos over de slappe houding van de parlementaire assemblee. De assemblee herhaalt zichzelf keer op keer, zegt dat de mensenrechtensituatie slecht is, maar onderneemt vervolgens geen actie. De rapporteur, Frank Judd (voor de Engelsen onder ons: Lord Judd) probeert met bezwerende formules het conflict keer op keer minder erg voor te stellen dan het is en ons (de assemblee) te overtuigen dat gesprekken tussen Russische parlementariërs en de Raad van Europa waardevol en constructief zijn.
Dat kan wel zo zijn, maar de situatie in Tsjetsjenië is er niet door verbeterd. Juist een mensenrechtenorganisatie, zoals de Raad van Europa, zou geen boodschap moeten hebben aan deals tussen Rusland en de VS inzake terrorismebestrijding, maar zich volop moeten richten aan de taak die ze zichzelf gesteld heeft, het aan de kaak stellen van grove schendingen van mensenrechten.
Hier onder volgt mijn bijdrage aan de plenaire discussie.

Bijdrage plenair debat: Conflict in the Chechen Republic
presentation by Lord Judd of the information report, Doc. 9559, Parts I and II, on behalf of the Political Affairs Committee)

Ms ZWERVER (Netherlands).

I refer to some newspaper clippings:
“Russian Government is telling the world that life is returning to normal in Chechnya. But it has not brought anyone to justice for terrible crimes of sexual violence by troops in Chechnya”.

Those are the words of Elisabeth Andersen of Human Rights Watch.
Another clipping says that Russian forces continue to detain hundreds of people without charges in the ongoing operations against Chechen rebel forces and that most are subsequently released but dozens remain unaccounted for – they have disappeared and have not been seen by their families again.

The humanitarian situation in Chechnya is still very bad. Whether the returns to Grozny are forced is a big question. Lord Judd writes in his report that the people to whom he spoke on his one-day visit to Grozny felt pressure to return, but went there of their own free will. Human rights organisations working in the region tell a different story. Whom should we believe? I do not know, but what is sure is that the humanitarian situation of the returnees and the conditions in which they have to live are very bad.

Lord Judd also writes in the information paper that international organisations should return to Chechnya, but there is no analysis whatever as to why they are not in Chechnya. They are not there for security reasons. The missing man from Médicins sans Frontières is still missing, and we should not forget that. Kidnappings and murders make it very dangerous to work in Chechnya. I stress that it is a Russian responsibility to deliver aid. I see no mention of that in the report. The international community is there not to replace the Russian authorities, but to support them.

Last but not least, there is a lack of financial resources. United Nations High Commission for Refugees received only half the amount of funding that it asked for in the region. The political situation is not good either. Mr Kalamanov’s successor, Mr Sultygov, whom we just heard, took a rather restrictive approach in respect of the freedom to travel of Council of Europe representatives in Chechnya. The Kalamanov staff, trained by Council of Europe experts, will probably be replaced by untrained personnel. Is that an improvement? No.

I ask the rapporteur exactly what progress is being made. We are today discussing again the conflict in Chechnya and we will tell each other again how awful the situation is. We are repeating ourselves again and again. It cannot go on like this. How long does the Assembly intend to continue in this way and how many repeated statements does it need? We are like a Greek chorus agonising in the wings. I think that it is high time again to start the discussion about sanctions and the credentials of the Russian delegation. A human rights organisation such as the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe cannot go on like this.

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