Statement by Memorial Human Rights Centre on Russia’s entry into war

posted 4 Oct 2015, 03:08 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 4 Oct 2015, 03:22 ]
2 October 2015

Source: HRO.org (info)
On 1 October 2015 Memorial Human Rights Centre issued a statement on Russia's entry into the war in the Middle East and the ‘surgical strikes’ by the Russian airforce in Syria.
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On 30 September 2015 the Russian Federation entered into the war in the Middle East. According to the Ministry of Defence, Russian aircraft conducted ‘surgical strikes’ against the positions of the Islamic State terrorist organization.

Almost immediately media and social networks were reporting that the attacks targeted the Syrian opposition not linked with the Islamic State, but, on the contrary, opposed to it. It was reported that residential areas had been hit, and that dozens of civilians had been killed, including children.

Without access to verified information, and even more without our own reliable sources, we are unable to confirm or deny these statements.

However, our own experience in Russia, the experience of two Chechen wars, obliges us to take seriously our worst possible fears.

First of all, announcements of ‘surgical strikes’ against ‘bandits and terrorists’ in Chechnya, when checked, in a very large number of cases proved to be mass and indiscriminate bombing and shooting of residential districts.

The rocket attack on the centre of Grozny on 21 October 1999, the air strike on a column of refugees near the village of Shami-Yurt on 29 October that year, and the bombing and strafing of the village of Katyr-Yurt on 5 February 2000 are only the best known instances, the list can be continued (for further information see the links below).

Secondly, although the military operation in Chechnya was called a ‘counter-terrorist’ operation, from the start of military action the main enemy and ‘military target’ were separatists, and not terrorists at all.

The Russian Ministry of Defence has itself confirmed our fears in reporting that targets had been hit in the areas around the cities of Homs and Hama, controlled by the Syrian opposition, where there are no forces of the Islamic State.

All this obliges one to seriously ask, who are the Russian planes in Syria in fact bombing, and who will be the victims of these attacks?

Addendum. Chechnya: some examples of indiscriminate attacks by federal forces, as a result of which civilians were killed:

"Surgical strikes": Indiscriminate use of force by federal forces. September – October 1999.

"Surgical strikes": a short chronicle of bombings and shootings, 1 November — 14 December 1999.

Grozny, 21 October 1999. A "Surgical" Atrocity.

Bombing of a Column of Refugees in Goryacheistochenskaya, 29 October1999

Bombing of a Column of Refugees in Shami-Yurt.

Report by Memorial Human Rights Centre on the Bombing of Katyr-Yurt 4 February 2000. The European Court of Human Rights rules in favour of the applicants in the case of Katyr-Yurt.

Rigakhoi, 9 April 2004 (Photos 18+). Judgment of the Еuropean Court of Human Rights in the case of Rigakhoi.

Bombing of the village of Zumsoi 14 August 2008

Bombing of the village of Starye Atagi, Grozny (rural) district of Chechnya 9 November 2005.

On the Human Rights Situation in the Republic of Chechnya, June-July 2000. — some examples of attacks on civilian areas.


Memorial Human Rights Centre (Moscow)

Translated by Simon Cosgrove
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