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Human Rights Watch Condemns Memorial Worker Attack

2011_Russia_Hamroev.JPGUnnerving details are beginning to emerge of the brutal assault on Memorial worker Bakhrom Hamroev, who was attacked outside his home on the evening of June 6.  Hamroev, who specializes in issues relating to Central Asia and Islam, apparently believes the attack was designed to prevent him from carrying out his professional activities.

Memorial has fought fearlessly in the past to expose rights abuses in Russia and its former satellite states, demonstrated pointedly by the fact that the group’s chief, Oleg Orlov, is currently in a fearsome litigation battle with Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov over rhetoric surrounding the death of award-winning rights worker Natalia Estemirova, who was murdered in the North Caucasus in 2009.  Human Rights Watch has made its abhorrance for the abuses of rights advocates clear in the following plea for justice, outlining some of the details of the beating, which all the more frighteningly, is not Hamroev’s first:

“This is the second brazen beating of Hamroev, and it should not go unpunished,” said Tanya Lokshina, Russia researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Russia needs to put a resolute end to the climate of impunity for attacks on human rights defenders, which emboldens the perpetrators and perpetuates attacks.

Hamroev told Human Rights Watch that as he returned home at about6:10 p.m. on June 6, he saw a man standing next to the entrance of hisapartment building. The man looked at him and immediately made a call onhis mobile phone. Hamroev entered the building.

Another man, also a stranger, was apparently waiting for him on thestairway between the first and the second floor, next to building’s themailboxes. A third man came out of the elevator and without saying aword, hit Hamroev in the face. Hamroev fell to the floor and theassailant, who was wearing brass knuckles, beat and kicked him. Theindividual who had been standing by the mailboxes joined the beating andsprayed mace into Hamroev’s face, causing intense pain and temporaryblindness.

According to Hamroev, the beating lasted a little over a minute. Theattackers left him on the floor. He eventually managed to reach his ownapartment, where his wife immediately called an ambulance. Hamroev wastaken to a hospital and treated for injuries, including a possibleconcussion. He could not open his eyes for several hours because of themace.

Late in the evening, investigators arrived to examine the crimescene. Among other things, they discovered that the lens of the videocamera on the front door of the building was covered with chewing gum,suggesting that the attack was premeditated and carefully planned.

Read the whole article here.