18 September 2003, 12:35

Chechen refugees in Ingushetia will sue migration service authorities

Chechen refugees in Ingushetia have begun collecting signatures for a lawsuit against local and federal migration authorities.

So far this has only started in the Bella camp, located near the village of Ordzhonikidzevskaya, where refugees have written two complaints: one of them is addressed to the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation and the other to a court in Moscow.

Members of the camp's Public Council signed the first complaint asking for an investigation of the situation, which is deliberately being worsened by migration officials.

According to the migration officials, the decision on the camp closure was caused by the resolutions of the fire department, sanitary-and-epidemiologic supervision authorities and by the direction of Ingushetia's Sunzhensky district administration head, which reads, "The camp is being closed in order to prevent fires, deaths and injuries, and the spread of infectious diseases."

Officially this camp has not existed since September 1. All dustbins were removed from the camp, and water, gas and electricity are unavailable in some areas. According to the camp's occupants, these officials come by daily and ask the refugees to move to neighbouring camps; in return they promise to resume humanitarian aid, water, gas and electricity. And they also allege no force will be used against the refugees. "Stay here if you want, but no services will be provided; so you'll eventually have to ask us to move you to another camp anyway."

The refugees' complaint states: "Numerous threats have been made that the camp will be shelled from the nearby Sunzha ridge. For us, there is no difference between threats and forced resettlement. In Chechnya authorities can't even protect their own buildings, so what sort of protection can we expect?"

Another complaint is also being prepared for the Moscow court, and its aim is the same - the migration service officials. So far, about two hundred signed statements have been collected citing that "people are being forced to leave Ingushetia for Chechnya, which is in direct contradiction with the principle of voluntary return of Chechen refugees officially proclaimed by Russian and Ingush authorities." Therefore, the court is being asked to negate the decision of the Russian Interior Ministry and the Federal Migration Service to dismantle the camp.

Meanwhile, the camp is under permanent control of human rights activists. So a group of camp locals have equipped themselves with a mobile phone, camera, dictaphone and video camera, and will record all meetings with the authorities. If the situation worsens, they will inform the human rights organizations located in the Ingush town of Nazran.

Source: Prague Watchdog

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