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Human rights violations

December 12, 2009

I wrote the following commentary for an assignment, but I want to stress that whether or not human rights violations occur in Chechnya or Mexico or Macedonia, the point of this assignment was to come up with global solutions, if at all possible. I am very interested in your comments. You can post them here or e-mail me at DeniseScammon@gmail.com. Thanks for your time.

I chose Adam to interview about his thoughts and opinions on The Oath by K. Baiev, the film “Crying Sun,” and Dr. Rodrigue’s booklet on Chechnya because Adam has either suggested books to read that we read in class – before I even took this course – or when I told him what I was reading or what film/video I was watching for this course, he had already read/watched the same (Einstein’s Dreams, The Seventh Seal). He’s an entrepreneur from New York, living in Freeport, working in Falmouth. His work is about creating computer programs that take into account the way people will get their news in the future. He is forward-thinking and a solution-driven person.

We first talked about human rights violations in Chechnya as documented in the film, “Crying Sun.” About the forced disappearances of people in Chechnya, Adam notes that what is reported is only the tip of the iceberg and we may never see accurate figures or actual figures will only be revealed in the far future. When no one can be held accountable for these disappearances, when trials come to nothing, no charges, then a sense of futility grows along with the fear of retribution. It seems as though the changes that need to take place are in the laws holding people accountable for their actions and providing protection for the people who bring charges against the groups responsible for the disappearances.

My opinion on a solution to prevent future forced disappearances lies in the checkpoints that Dr. Baiev wrote about in The Oath. The people working at those checkpoints are either legally working for the government or they are not. The checkpoints should be scrutinized. I realize the need for checkpoints, but it appears that this is one of the major locations for forced disappearances. Also, documents can be forged to make the checkpoint guards seem like legal representatives of the government, but perhaps there is a technological solution to discovering forged documents, like eye scans or something similarly innovative.

A few of my favorite quotes from The Oath: “Everyone worried about the kind of world our children would grow up in” and “War is a terrible thing” (90-91). One of my favorite passages is when Baiev comes up with a solution to help the poor receive needed medical treatments. Baiev’s idea is to give “a well-off patient a list of hospital supplies for his or her treatment, followed by a request to triple the amount” (92). This is the same idea as providing equal access to resources for everyone.

I described to Adam the theme of the booklet, “Chechnya, the Caucasus, & World Justice,” by Barry Rodrigue et al: human rights abuses caused by the forceable confiscation, for profit, of another’s resources. Russia became dependent on the income generated by the commercial oil wells in the Grozny area. Only through war and oppression has Russia managed to keep control of that revenue. About a solution, Rodrigue wrote that what is needed to restore peace is “The empowerment of common people by grassroots activism and democratic reform, establishment of an impartial court system, civic oversight and regulation of the economy, and international cooperation, especially in the area of human rights” (11).

We discussed grassroots activism and the need for transparency in where funding comes from for the projects of activists. There’s an independent group with the acronym FEWER (Forum on Early Warning and Early Response http://www.fewer-international.org/pages/eurasia/ ) which “has identified six directions for promoting economic development, dismantling the war economy, and promoting security. These are: to initiate and coordinate reconstruction efforts, to initiate efforts for a political settlement, to promote the transparency of efforts for a political settlement with media participation, to ensure Chechnya’s autonomy, to protect and meet the basic needs of Chechen refugees and displaced persons, and to strengthen law enforcement and the protection of rights in the republic” (FPIF). All six directions are equally important.

The latest news just 11 days ago is that terrorism is still striking fear in Chechnya and the Caucasus region: “Across Ingushetia, Chechnya, Dagestan and Karabino-Balkaria, Islamist fighters are waging a violent struggle to overthrow their local and federal rulers” (Guardian News). What can the global community do to restore peace in Chechnya and the Caucasus region? I think an international group should oversee Russian security in the region and help Chechens establish a political voice.

Baiev, K. (2004). The Oath: A Surgeon Under Fire. New York: Walker Publishing.

Foreign Policy in Focus. http://www.fpif.org/selfdetermination/conflicts/chechen.html

Guardian News. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/nov/29/north-caucasus-chechnya-russia- muslims

Mukusheva, S. (dir.). (2007). Crying Sun: The Impact of War in the Mountains of Chechnya. Witness. New York.

Rodrigue, B. and others. (2008). Chechnya, the Caucasus & World Justice. Lewiston:

International Student Organizations of Lewiston-Auburn and others.

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