One of the great euphemisms of human rights is the act of being ‘disappeared’, a phenomenon closely associated the excesses of right wing Latin American regimes, but not restricted to that part of the world. Awkward individuals going missing is useful to oppressors everywhere. And when people start being disappeared it’s a sign that a regime is plumbing the depths of human rights abuse – out of sight the disappeared are often tortured and murdered – and it shows forces at work well outside the rule of law in a society on the verge of anarchy.
So it’s particularly concerning that Amnesty International draws attention to the case of Elina Ersenoeva, a freelance journalist and a staff member of an organization raising awareness of HIV/AIDS apparently abducted on 17 August. She’s clearly been moving in a murky world and may even be the kidnapped bride to a Chechen rebel leader. She may even be his willing bride or not his bride at all. Whatever the case it’s important that the Russian authorities accused of complicity in her disappearance do all they can to make her reappear and restore the rule of law to Chechnya as far as they are able.