Russia

Chechen mothers rally in Grozny demanding return of their sons

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Timur Aliyev, North Caucasus - A demonstration demanding the return of Chechen sons took place in Grozny on March 5.

About 150 mothers, whose children disappeared during special "cleaning up" operations, gathered in the center of the Chechen capital, holding photographs with their son's names and background information about their disappearance.

"We have no political aims, we just want information about our children," explained the women who gathered there from all districts of Chechnya.

"They took Aslan on April 29, 2001 from his home in Alkhan-Kala during a "cleaning up" operation," said his mother, Mariat Khasayeva. "Since then I've turned to everyone for help, from the local authorities all the way up to Kostyuchenko, Prosecutor of Chechnya. But no one would give me any information about his whereabouts."

According to Khasayeva, the prosecutor refused to start criminal proceedings claiming that no such operation had been conducted in her village on that date; she was told to bring proof that it had. Yet on April 30, RTR, the Russian state-run channel, aired this very same operation on the evening news.

The other women told similar stories; they carried thick files containing official inquiries made to the police and the military about the disappearance of their sons. About 30 of them were handling the prosecution themselves, said Tamara Kalayeva, a human rights activist.

These women have given up hope of ever finding out the truth and so have decided to take the matter to the international court.

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