13 April 2000

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) deplores the visit of Vladimir Putin,President of the Russian Federation, to Britain. In a letter to Prime Minister, Tony Blair, the MCB says it is amazed he is being allowed to visit.

“We regret that the British Government finds it so easy to do business with a man with so much blood on his hands. When doing business comes before concern for basic principles of international law and the appalling suffering of innocent people, we have reason to be deeply distressed.” says MCB Secretary General Iqbal Sacranie.

“We would not do business with Milosovic, and we should not do business with Putin while he annihilates an entire people in the name of political expediency and personal ambition.”

The MCB is calling on the British Government to give their full support and backing to Mary Robinson, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in her efforts to investigate gross human rights abuses and crimes against humanity committed by Russian Federation forces in Chechnya.

The MCB is calling on the British Government to denounce Russian policy in Chechnya in the clearest terms; to insist the aggression ceases forthwith; insist on an independent international monitoring presence to safeguard the population of Chechnya and ensure that relief agencies from Britain and elsewhere are given maximum support and access in their efforts to cope with the humanitarian disaster in Chechnya.

“There cannot be one standard for those nations we have defeated and another for powerful nations who can blatantly violate international law with impunity”, says the letter. “The dead, maimed and injured of Chechnya cry out for justice every bit as much as the dead of Kosova, Bosnia or Rwanda.”

The MCB will be joining with other organisations to mount a protest outside 10 Downing Street on Monday April 17 when President Putin is expected to be having lunch with the Prime Minister. The protest will commence at 10am.

For More Information Contact: Merryl Wyn Davies, Media Officer, Tel: 0208 903 9024 Fax 020 8903-9026