14 August 2006, 14:35

An Appeal to Russian Public and International Community, to All People of Good Will from Ingush residents of Prigorodny district of North Ossetia, who were forced to start a timeless hunger strike

We, Ingush residents of Prigorodny district of North Ossetia, who were forced to flee their homes as a result of the Ingush-Ossetian conflict of 1992, start a timeless hunger strike. We protest against the delay in the process of our return to the places of permanent residence in North Ossetia and against open discrimination of the Ingush minority in the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania.

On February 23, 1944 was committed a horrendous crime against humanity - on the order of Stalin the entire Ingush and Chechen peoples were deported to Central Asia. Chechen-Ingush Republic was abolished and Prigorodny District - the cradle of Ingush history and culture - was transferred under the jurisdiction of North Ossetia. Ingush houses were occupied by other people, Ingush cemeteries desecrated, mosques demolished. After return from the Stalinist exile, the district not only was not returned to the Ingush, the authorities did everything to restrict our resettlement in the native villages.

After the collapse of the USSR as a result of chaos and irresponsible actions by authorities happened another great tragedy - an armed ethnic conflict broke out between brotherly Ingush and the Ossetian peoples. The Russian federal troops interfered and sided with the Ossetians, as a result 3, 000 Ingush houses were demolished, 50, 000 Ingush citizens were forced to flee their villages. Since then for 14 years we live in iron wagons and barracks 20 kilometers from our homes, without assistance from the state or humanitarian organizations, without minimal guarantees of our constitutional rights.

In 2006 the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin ordered the authorities of the Southern Federal Okrug (Region) to solve the problem of overcoming the consequences of the Ingush-Ossetian conflict by 2007. The problem is for the most part being solved by resettling the Ingush internally displaced people (IDPs) from places of their temporary residence to the vacant area of Prigorodny district of North Ossetia at the border with Ingushetia. Families who have renounced their property rights in North Ossetia, were moved to the land slots in the newly created settlement of Novyy, where they continue to live in iron wagons. In spite of all assurances by the federal authorities that the land slots will become the property of the IDPs, no documents certifying their ownership of this property have been provided to Ingush families. This way, having given up on their property and their right to return to North Ossetia, Ingush have received no guarantees that they will be able to live on this land allocated to them.

For those who have firm intentions to return to their villages in Prigorodny district, the representatives of Southern Federal Okrug and the government of Republic North Ossetia-Alania keep promising to "open" for return the villages Oktyabr'skoje, Yuzny, and Ir. In the course of several years we have been told that we will shortly return to our homes in these villages. However, as of today, not a single family has returned there. Any patience comes to an end.

The problem of the co-called "water-protection zone" remains acute. In 1996, as we think with the aim to prevent the return of the Ingush, the government of North Ossetia-Alania adopted a resolution N 186 of July 25 "On the zone of sanitary protection of sources of drinking water", which stipulated enlarging the water-protection zone around the Terek river, so that it includes the villages Terk, Chernorechenskoje, Balta, Redunt, Yuzny, which before the conflict were 90% populated by the Ingush. In spite of the fact that the Ingush houses are located no less than 200 meters, and in most cases 600-1500 meters from the water, the resolution N 89 of May 1998 "On resettlement of citizens, residing in the zone of sanitary protection of sources of drinking water" prescribes to resettle all the residents of these settlements from the bed of the Terek river. For several years now we have repeatedly appealed to the President of the Russian Federation, the Government and State Duma of the Russian Federation, the authorities of the South Federal Okrug to carry out an independent expert analysis and make a neutral, non-political decision on the borders of water-protection zone. However, we received no response. While the federal center postpones the decision, we continue fighting for survival in the inhuman conditions of IDP camps.

And finally, it is not possible to tolerate any longer the uncovered discrimination of the Ingush minority in North Ossetia. Many citizens of Ingush nationality issue passports without registration-propiska- which deprives us of the basic rights: freedom of movement, right to healthcare and education. Without propiska, the citizen is, in fact deprived of most of his rights. Ingush children in North Ossetia study in separate schools, and adults have no equal access to employment. In Ingush houses live other people, who have illegally captured them after the conflict. A whole range of legal issues, related to duplication of documents, official registration of the lost property and destroyed houses have not been solved.

At the same time, the relations of Ingush returnees with their Ossetian neighbors are built on the basis of mutual respect and good neighborly relations. In the villages, where Ingush IDPs have returned, Ingush and Ossetians are getting along perfectly well, they visit each other for weddings and funerals, just as 14 years ago. There exist strong kin and spiritual ties between our peoples and if nationalistically oriented authorities do not create obstacles, the Ossetians and Ingush will leave in peace and agreement, as we have lived for centuries.

In relation with the above described we demand to:

1. Immediately return IDPs to the places of their permanent residence in the villages of Oktyabr'skaya, Ir, Yuzny

2. Immediately settle the issue of "water protection zone"

In case the independent expertise proves the necessity of enlarging the water-protection zone, and the federal authorities confirm this decision, we insist that the resettlement of residents from the water-protection zone is going on with full observance of our right for equal compensation. In this case, we insist on being allocated lands for resettlement in the close proximity of our native villages (in the upper terrace of the Terek river) and/or provide us with living spaces and land slots in Vladikavkaz. We also ask to legally ensure our right to freely visit family cemeteries located on the territory of water-protection zone at any time.

3. Immediate issue to all residents of Prigorodny district passports with propiska in the settlements of permanent residence

This propiska has to be permanent and cannot be changed without consent of a citizen.

4. To resolve legal problems related to compensations for lost property and allocation of new land slots

Stalinist deportation lasted for 13 years. It has been 14 years since the tragedy of 1992. It is time to stop the historic discrimination of the Ingush people. We do not ask for much - just to ensure us equal rights with other peoples of North Ossetia. We are forced to resort to such extreme measures as hunger strike to defend our Constitutional rights. We have nothing to loose, we will keep continue until the end.

Summer, 2006

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