Masked men raid human rights office in Chechnya | News | DW | 03.06.2015
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Masked men raid human rights office in Chechnya

In Chechnya, a group of young men carrying sledgehammers have left the office of a Russian human rights organization in ruins. It isn't the first time the rights committee has been targeted by violence.

Tschetschenien - Angriffe auf das Komitee gegen Folter

The organization's vehicles were also destoryed during the raid

Masked men ransacked the Chechnya office of the Committee Against Torture, a Russian human rights group drawing attention to torture and extrajudicial killings in the region.

The group of men knocked down the office's front door wielding sledgehammers and "started smashing everything," forcing staff to escape through the windows, the rights group said on its Twitter account.

The state-run television channel Grozny described the incident as a "rally of civil organizations and representatives of civil society" protesting the "politicization of rights activism."

Targeted before

However, the incident is not the first time the Committee Against Torture has been targeted by violence.

In December of 2014, the organization's office in Chechnya was torched by supporters of Ramzan Kadyrov after the group criticized the Chechen strongman for urging collective punishment on the families of Islamist insurgents.

The Committee Against Torture was also listed as a "foreign agent" by Russia's Ministry of Justice under the provisions of a controversial law that penalizes groups with political activities and receive foreign funding.

Left for the 'slaughter'

The organization's regional coordinator, Oleg Khabibrakhmanov, told the Associated Press news agency that staff had immediately called the police but they did not respond to the incident.

"Our conclusion is that they left us up for slaughter," Khabibrakhmanov said.

The incident comes after years of targeted attacks against human rights activists and journalists operating in Chechnya, with many left dead following investigations into torture, kidnapping, and war crimes in the region.

The North Caucasus province sustained two separatist wars with Russia in the 1990s.

ls/kms (AP, AFP, Reuters)