Chechnya: Amnesty International appeals to the OSCE
people, because these are the people mainly left in the town. The fighters never suffer; it's always the peaceful civilians. So many people died and so many people were like me; I am just a drop in the ocean. But even without a leg and a hand, I survived. Many didn't.'
Leila Migieva's account of the Grozny market bombing on 21 October 1999.
On the eve of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
Summit in Turkey, Amnesty International is calling on OSCE participating states
to seriously address the worsening human rights and humanitarian situation in
Chechnya. The OSCE should use its influence to urge the Russian authorities to
abide by human rights and humanitarian obligations, including to provide
protection and safe passage to people fleeing from the conflict and allow unimpeded access to humanitarian relief.
An Amnesty International representative has just returned from the Chechnya/Ingushetia border with testimonies from people fleeing the conflict. The testimonies strongly suggest that Russian military operations
have included direct attacks on civilians and that thousands of people trying to
flee Chechnya have been prevented from crossing national and international
Direct attacks on civilians and civilian objects, as well as indiscriminate
attacks on residential areas in Chechen towns and villages continue to be reported daily. Civilians who have crossed the Ingushetia/Chechnya border in
the past week have reported continuous shelling and air attacks in many areas,
including Bamut, Grozny, Urus Martan and Achkhoy Martan.
Although the border between Ingushetia and Chechnya was officially re-opened on 1 November, access to Ingushetia remains arbitrary. The Russian authorities will not allow international media representatives and independent observers to cross into Chechnya, claiming it is unsafe.
Vehicles carrying people out of Chechnya are generally not allowed through the border unless the passengers are seriously wounded. People are forced to walk several kilometres through the border into Ingushetia, leaving their cars behind. Many people told Amnesty International they were forced to pay money at
border crossings before being allowed to leave Chechnya.
There are currently around 190,000 internally displaced people in
Ingushetia, many of them in camps with insufficient water, shelter, food and
heating resulting in poor health and illness.
Amnesty International is urging the OSCE to support the demand for an international investigation of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law to establish the truth and to identify those responsible.
'The world cannot sit idly by while Russia continues direct attacks on civilians', Amnesty International said.'The OSCE should use its collective
power to urge Russia to end the onslaught.'