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Siegfried Stupnig

For ten years I have dealt intensively with the situation in Chechnya and above all the well-being of North Caucasian families in Austria. I meet Chechen families every day to compare notes. These people have fled from the war, despotism and death squads in their native country. I have still not met a single Chechen person who has not talked about death and torture in his or her family. Terrible things are currently happening in Chechnya too; hardly anybody is in a position to talk about these incidents. The reason is obvious: the ruling dictator in Chechnya is himself accessory to many of these serious violations of human rights, which range from perverted torture to arbitrary execution. I am asking you not to close your eyes to deportations currently being carried out. It is thought that some deported people in Chechnya do not survive for very long.

I am also aware that (young) Chechens can be very difficult and hard work from time to time. These adolescents have seen war as children and were in many cases witnesses to cruel abuses (in the worst case the torture and death of their parents too). There are more and more problems in schools too with North Caucasian children who break the rules. Not all schools in Carinthia are fully prepared for refugee children who live in a traumatized family set-up. Some teachers react with irritation and incomprehension where patience and empathy would be helpful. I also know that there are a lot of great teaching staff in Carinthian schools who have considerably fewer problems with very difficult pupils than overworked colleagues. Some integration measures for traumatized asylum seekers and refugee families are possibly also inappropriate. I think that with many Chechen people the monitoring of the individual should be the main focus. Projects which exclusively seek to promote integration into the workplace are in some cases often less than meaningful. Even if our achievement-oriented society demands this and it is stipulated everywhere. In some families it is necessary to simply establish how to function.

I call my refugee and integration initiative “Chechens – people like us.” It must also be made explicit that the minority ethnic community of Chechens is inhomogeneous, just as Austrians have completely different mindsets. Political, religious and all questions to do with society held by Chechens living in Carinthia, Austria are often fundamentally different. The majority of Chechen people – and in this way they are no different from Austrians or any other nationality - want to live in peace and respect the law. I thank my Chechen friends for their trust, for their honesty, for their lovely friendliness which is never intrusive, as well as for their overwhelming pride and the most magnificent of all friendships.


Siegfried Stupnig, born 16.1.1967. Since 2003 he has carried out voluntary work with Chechen refugees in Carinthia, Austria. He also works with the society ASPIS in Klagenfurt as a trauma psychologist and social worker for Chechen families. www.aspis.at 

His current project is “Chechen people like us”, and other work is a sports project (Chechnya FC in Klagenfurt), information on the situation of Chechen families; educational and social care for Chechen pupils and much more.