Masked Gunmen Raided Siberian Evenk Indigenous Organization
ULAN-UDE, Buryatia, Russia -- Masked gunmen have raided the offices of a Siberian indigenous organization in Buryatia in Russia, kidnapping two men and taking them to undisclosed locations.
After weeks of silence, one of the hostages managed to phone his relatives. He said he had been beaten and threatened.
The offices of the co-operative called Dylacha, which is run by the
Evenk tribe from Buryatia in Siberia, came under attack on 4th October, according to reports from the London-based campaign group Survival International.
Photo: A boy of the Siberian Evenk indigenous people sits peacefully with a reindeer. Credit: Raipon/Survival International.
Witnesses say unidentified attackers burst in and rounded up the workers at gunpoint, before kidnapping the two Evenk men.
Local reports say the gunmen wore OMON
uniforms (a special police unit of the Russian Ministry of Internal
Affairs), and were allegedly assisted by the secret service.
Dylacha is an Evenk ‘obschina’, a co-operative where the community works
together to tend their reindeer, hunt and fish. They also operate a
small nephrite (jade) mine on their land, ensuring that it does not
interfere with their traditional activities. The two men being held were
involved in the mining activities of the co-operative.
Since the raid, Dylacha has been accused of mining nephrite outside its
concession area. However, no evidence has been produced to back up this
accusation, and during the raid no one was questioned regarding this
allegation. The Evenk’s entire nephrite stock has been confiscated as
part of the investigation.
Dylacha members believe they have been targeted in retaliation for
successfully stopping commercial nephrite mining taking place on Evenk
hunting territories earlier this year. The company that had its
application refused is believed to have close links to the Russian
secret service and the Interior Ministry.
This attack on Dylacha, along with the suspension of Russia’s largest indigenous organization, RAIPON,
has led many to fear that those who defend Russia’s indigenous
territories from exploitation are under increasing threat of
intimidation and harassment.
Map: Buryatia, Russia.
Source: Survival International
Published by: Magne Ove Varsi