Thanks, but no thanks, Mr. Putin
terﾌﾫrorﾌﾫism (ter’er iz’em) n. [Fr terrorisme]
1. the act of terrorizing; use of force or threats to demoralize, intimidate, and subjugate, esp. such use as a political weapon or policy 2. the demoralization and intimidation produced in this way
In May of this year, a Russian army commander admitted at a court-martial hearing to pulling an 18-year-old Chechen woman from her family home and strangling her. Eyewitnesses claim that the colonel’s drunken charges then proceeded to rape her lifeless body before burying her in a shallow grave.
Another Russian military chief admitted his troops carried out “widespread crimes” in operations during the most recent two years of violence in Chechnya.
The group Human Rights Watch found a mass grave less than one kilometer from a Russian base near the Chechen town of Dachny.
In recent visits to the killing zone, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture found evidence to “strongly indicate that many persons were physically ill-treated.” The CPT said violations have been recurrent throughout the war.
In April, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights condemned Russia for its continued use of “disproportionate and indiscriminate” force in the breakaway republic.
The U.S. State Department’s 2001 annual rights assessment states, “Numerous credible reports of human rights abuses by Russian forces, which included extrajudicial killings, torture and rape, provoked condemnation and calls for accountability.”
With the exception of the above-mentioned court-martial, Russia has vehemently denied the policy of torture that has seemed so apparent in its Chechen campaigns – campaigns that have left over 100,000 people, mainly civilians, dead.
Last year, Russia expert and current National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice told an interviewer, “I don’t think that Russia is going to succeed in simultaneously treating the Chechen people this way and subduing them in some sense and then govern them.” Those words might as well have never been said. Rice’s opinion matters no longer. After Sept. 11, everything has changed.
Russia has found itself welcomed by the international community into the fight against terrorism, and Russian President Vladmir Putin couldn’t be happier. As pressure to reel in his soldiers continued to mount and scrutiny was at its highest – a high level Bush official visited Chechen rebel leaders just this summer – the door to get in with the international community was flung wide open.
Is this a partner we want to have?
Putin has the support of his constituents, but is this simply because they are not getting the facts? NTV, Russia’s last major independent media outlet, was shut down this year in what many believe to be a strong-arm silencing of the Kremlin’s toughest critic.Censorship is one thing, but there is no excuse for the slaughter of civilians anywhere. The attorney for the man who murdered the 18-year-old civilian claimed post-traumatic stress disorder was the reason for his actions. This insult to humanity should not be taken so lightly.
Egregious human rights violation cannot be condoned. Until it pledges to clean up its act, Russia, a state that practices terrorism in Chechnya on a regular basis, should not be allowed into any multinational alliance.