23/1 – 23.02. 2019
Said-Emin IBRAGIMOV: OPEN LETTER to Mr António Guterres
Secretary-General of the United Nations,
Chairman of the United Nations Security Council
As is well known, the political and military forces of Russia in 1994 and 1999 waged two wars of aggression against the Chechen people with the aim of realizing their personal, political, economic and other interests. As a result of these acts of aggression, heinous crimes were committed. Without attempting to enumerate the immensely long list of these crimes, I feel I must remind you that in the course of those two wars of aggression, Russian soldiers murdered more than 250,000 innocent citizens of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, including more than 42,000 children. Additionally , tens of thousands of innocent people were disabled, lost their homes and property, were subjected to torture and extrajudicial executions, passed through so-called ‘filtration’ camps (in reality concentration camps), and are illegally imprisoned. Hundreds of thousands of people were deprived of their homes and property and their traditional lifestyle and are left rootless all over the world.
Of these and many other barbaric crimes, the culprits are the leaders of the political and military forces of Russia, led by the incumbent President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, and those directly implicated in carrying out bloody crimes. The names of the criminals are known, as is the fact that these crimes were planned by the Kremlin and implemented with the complicity of Chechen ‘heroes’ who are Russia’s agents of influence. This is common knowledge but not talked about, although the same devious methods used against the Chechen people – fabrication of accusations against the potential victims – have been employed by the Kremlin criminals to commit new crimes against the peoples of Georgia, Ukraine, Syria and elsewhere. This indicates that the criminal Russian ‘vertical of power’ headed by Putin, in whose hands are concentrated immense financial resources and military power over which the impoverished Russian population has no control, are confident of their impunity and ready to go further, leaving a trail of blood behind them. The role once played by Hitler in crimes of this description is now performed by Putin.
The international community, which has behind it the dismal example of mid-twentieth century history, well knows where the failure to confront the crimes of Hitler’s Germany led. In spite of that, many, including prominent politicians, continue to hush up the slaughter of the Chechen people. For over twenty years we have been holding rallies, conducting hunger strikes, organizing peace marches and other peaceful protests to call for an end to the genocide and an objective investigation of these crimes. Flying in the face of common sense, these terrible crimes have been declared ‘an internal affair for Russia’, in effect ‘a personal matter for the criminals themselves’. This is unjust in the extreme, and contrary to the international obligations taken upon themselves by international organizations and the countries which are members of the United Nations. Refusal to conduct an objective investigation and to find guilty or acquit Russia’s political and military leaders of the murder of hundreds of thousands of people gives criminals a green light to commit new crimes with impunity. The only question is, who will be their next victims?
For 400 years, Russia’s political and military forces have been waging a permanent war on the territory of Chechnya, murdering the finest sons and daughters of our people who have
given their lives for the freedom of the Chechen nation while never attempting to violate the liberty of others. Through all this time the aggressors have employed the practice of infiltrating their Chechen agents of influence into both sides of the conflict and, through diverse tricks, they seek to justify their barbaric crimes, accusing the entire Chechen people of crimes, including the murder of civilians they themseves have killed.
The Russian leadership has wilfully refused to ratify the statute of the International Criminal Court, which is the only judicial body in the world with the power to call to account the top leaders of a state which has committed the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. By refusing to ratify the ICC Statute, the Russian dictator, Vladimir Putin, has openly demonstrated that he recognizes only that ‘might is right’ and rejects the rule of international law when it applies to him personally. By refusing to recognize the ICC, Putin is seeking to shut off the Chechen people’s only recourse for obtaining due process of law and justice.
Citizens of the CRI who are free from the influence of Putin’s criminal power have never had, and still do not have, any officially recognized representatives in international organizations. This deprives them of the opportunity to present the truth, which is concealed, not only by Russia’s spin doctors, but also by high International organizations, including the UN Security Council. For the first time in the entire history of its existence, the Chechen people had hopes of justice from international legal bodies. In spite of all the visible and invisible difficulties, on 23 February 2018, complying with the statutory rules of the ICC, we submitted an application to the Prosecutor of the ICC for the court to conduct an objective investigation into the crimes of Russia’s criminal regime, leading to whatever legal consequences might follow.
In that application, which was officially accepted by the court, an immense quantity of evidence was submitted, substantiating the claim of crimes committed against the Chechen people by the political and military forces of Russia. Separate evidence was submtted in respect of each category of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The Russian side has no lawful grounds on which to refute the crimes it has committed, so in their ‘defence’ the Russian spin doctors resort to lies and methods they have already found effective against the weakness of international organizations and politicians by unilaterally denying the truth. This is a practice which can be employed forever, and it may be that our future generations will also be confronted by it if we, who are alive today and have experienced the flouting of our rights, are unable to obtain justice through the ICC.
Objective investigation of crimes and punishment of the criminals could be an epoch-making precedent with the power of creating law which might prevent potential crimes in the future. The Kremlin criminals foresaw the possibility of this development, did not ratify the ICC Statute, and indeed repudiated their signature on the document. This does not mean, however, that bloody crimes must remain unpunished and opportunities for new unpunished crimes opened up. The Prosecutor of the ICC has the right, on the basis of the irrefutable evidence we have provided, to initiate an investigation ‘proprio motu’ but, for understandable reasons, has not yet resolved to do so. In his letter replying to our statement, Mark P. Dillon, the head of the Information and Evidence Unit, referring to the opinion of the Prosecutor of the ICC, pointed out that one of the three conditions allowing the court to consider the case is for the situation to be referred to the ICC by the UN Security Council in accordance with Article 13. Given the fact that the Security Council, under the influence of one of its permanent members, has for many years not even
expressed its objective view on the crimes of Russia’s political and military forces in Chechnya, we are not fully confident that we will be able to persuade the Security Council now to act as it should. We are, however, fully convinced that this would be the only proper decision in the light of international law and human conscience. This is confirmed by International Criminal Law, which mandates the principle of universal jurisdiction, providing for liability irrespective of where and by whom a crime was committed. In addition, there is a principle of inescapability of punishment for crimes committed and other principles and norms of international law which give the UN Security Council grounds for referring the situation to the ICC and to set the investigative process in motion. For this the UN Security Council needs to find ways to overcome illegal obstacles put in place by Russia, which is intent on ensuring that the bloody crimes of its political and military forces should be unjustifiably forgotten.
Mr Secretary-General of the United Nations,
Mr Chairman of the Security Council of the United Nations,
It is within your power to break a deadlock and not allow criminals to escape responsibility for terrible crimes against the Chechen people.
The fate and the future of millions of the world’s people is dependent on your resolutely acting in accordance with the law.
In the name of the rule of law and justice, I request that you forward to the International Criminal Court the requisite letter to enable the ICC Prosecutor to institute criminal proceedings against the political and military forces of Russia under the leadership of Vladimir Putin.
Your positive response to this request is eagerly anticipated not only by the Chechen people but also by level-headed people in Russia and by other affected peoples.
With the hope that my request will not be lightly ignored and forgotten, as the murder of a quarter of the population of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria has been forgotten, I intend to appeal to the world community for support. In the event that my lawful request is ignored, I shall be obliged to organize and conduct a protest march ‘For the rule of law and justice’, from Strasbourg to the UN Security Council building in Geneva. During this 1-month-long march we shall remind you of our request, await your reply, and hope we will not be forced to organize further protest actions against injustice.
We shall notify you of the date of the march at a later date, depending on circumstances under your control.
Yours respectfully, Said-Emin Ibragimov
President of the Peace and Human Rights international association
Vice Prime Minister of the Government of the CRI, representative of the CRI in international institutions.