Become an OC Media Member

Support independent journalism in the Caucasus: Join today

Become a member

Chechens go on hunger strike in Croatia migrant camp

27 April 2023
Image via OBC Transeuropa.

The Chechen human rights group, Vayfond, has reported that a group of Chechens who have been held in a migrant camp for six months have gone on hunger strike.

According to Vayfond, six people began a hunger strike on 21 April in protest at the authorities’ decision to extend their detention by three months. Vayfond said the exact number of Chechens being detained in the camp was unknown but was in the dozens. 

‘Without proving anything, they just labelled these people extremists’, a spokesperson for Vayfond told OC Media.

‘They are somehow discriminated against on religious and ethnic grounds, and [no specific evidence against them] is presented’, they said.

According to Vayfond, who is in touch with relatives of the detainees, conditions in the centre are poor, and they do not receive proper medical care. They also said there were reports that employees of the camp were rude and even violent against Chechens.

‘They say that when there are no cameras there, they say “Why did you come to our land”, “Go back to your Chechnya” — such conversations happen very often on their part. If someone raises their voice or starts challenging someone, they use force and beat them with a stick. And they are rude, tell them to shut up, and many such moments. The attitude is [disgusting]’, Vayfond says.

Vayfond also said that the migration camp inspector had said the hunger strike would ‘not help them’.

‘You are torturing yourself, if one of you becomes ill, we will take you to a closed hospital, cure you and bring you back to the camp’, the inspector reportedly told one of the detainees. 

According to the detainees, they were deceived and ‘mocked’ because they were ‘promised to be released in 6 months’. 

The Assembly of Chechens of Europe argued earlier that the immigrants had tried to flee from military mobilisation in Russia. The mobilisation forced tens of thousands of Russians to flee their country in a wave of immigration not seen since the start of the Rissian invasion of Ukraine.

[Read more on OC Media: Violence and arrests as anti-war protests hit Russia’s North Caucasus]

According to the Vayfond, when one of the detainees explained his situation he was told to join the Chechens fighting against Russia in Ukraine.

‘That is, whether you like it or not, fight. It feels like they are some kind of pro-Russian, to be honest, even though they are part of the European Union’, Veyfond said.

Isa Daduev, who heads the Assembly’s human rights department, told OC Media they could be in danger in Russia if deported.

‘Whoever is deported with such suspicions [extremism] is in great danger. Criminal cases can easily be fabricated against them.’

Daduev also warned that they could be subject to torture, or sent to war in Ukraine.

Croatian authorities did not respond to a request for comment.