M.Gazdiev: “Do not Stay Silent! Act!”
As national football teams fight it out at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, another team of Amnesty International is lined up to fight for human rights. The 11 members of “Stand Up United” defend human rights around the world. They have a common goal – equality, dignity and justice for all. One of them is from Ingushetia, he is Mukhmed Gazdiev.
Mukhmed Gazdiev’s son Ibragim was 29 years old and full of plans for the future. He had a university degree in Economics and was working as a shop manager in the town of Karabulak, in the Russian North Caucasus republic of Ingushetia, where he lived with his family.
On 8 August 2007, at 12.54 pm Ibragim Gazdiev was reportedly seized by armed men in camouflage in the centre of Karabulak and has never been seen since. The men are believed to be law enforcement officials, specifically, members of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB). The family believes that he is being, or has been held in secret government custody. The law enforcement agencies deny the fact of Ibragim Gazdiev’s detention.
The criminal investigation into Ibragim Gazdiev’s disappearance has been suspended and reopened several times. The family claim that no effective steps are being taken to establish Ibragim Gazdiev’s fate and whereabouts, or to find those who were involved in this crime.
Since the first day of Ibragim’s disappearance his father Mukhmed, a retired history teacher, has been relentlessly looking for his son. In spite of his elderly age, disability and poor health he has no intention of giving up his search for justice. He has appealed to various officials in Ingushetia and in Moscow, including the then Russian President Vladimir Putin, Director of the Federal Security Service, Russia’s Human Rights Ombudsman, Prosecutor of Ingushetia, Prosecutor General and the President of Ingushetia. Most recently, he complained to the court against suspension of the investigation but with no result. Gazdiev is appealing to a higher court.
Mukhmed Gazdiev said that he had been threatened due to his attempts to clarify the fate of his son. Furthermore, he was ill-treated during a demonstration he had helped to organize against human rights violations in Ingushetia. In May 2008, Federal Security Services conducted a search of the Gazdiev’s family home using a search warrant issued for the neighbour’s house.
Mukhmed Gazdiev calls on the international community to do everything possible to raise the issue of involvement of security forces in disappearances in Ingushetia.
“When people lose their sons and daughters, they do everything in their power to find them. I appeal to the world… Do everything possible to raise this issue… Many people have gone missing… I am speaking on behalf of all people as well as for my own son.”- Mukhmed Gazdiev.
According to a local NGO MASHR, Ibragim Gazdiev’s case is one of 179 cases of disappearances which have occured in Ingushetia since 2002. It is a significantly high figure for a republic of only around 500,000 people. Abductions and disappearances, some allegedly with the government involvement, are happening against the background of increased attacks of freedom fighters against pro-Russian government officials in Ingushetia which, in turn, result in so-called counter-terror operations’ of law enforcement agencies.
Mukhmed Gazdiev is appealing to YOU: “You must not stay silent when somebody next to you, your friend, your fellow Earth-dweller suffers. They are being killed, and you say nothing! Tomorrow those who killed will come for you, and this time you will stay silent for ever. If we want to live on this beautiful planet.. I appeal to everyone who can hear me: Do not stay silent! Act!”
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