Kenny Gluck captured in Chechnya - MSF statement
12 January 2001
Ladies and Gentlemen, We are alarmed and we are shocked. Our colleague Kenny Gluck, a dedicated relief worker and a dear friend, was captured last Tuesday in Chechnya in an attack on his convoy by armed men. We do not know who these men were. And we do not know why he was captured. We have received no information on Kenny's whereabouts, on his condition. Whoever is holding Kenny, we call on you to release him unharmed. We urgently appeal for his return to us, to his friends, and to his family. First of all, to whoever is holding him, it is important to know that Kenny has asthma. He can function well with medication, but without it his asthma may seriously worsen or even become life-threatening. Kenny has only a limited amount of medication with him, and it is impossible to say how his disease may develop. We appeal to you to take into consideration Kenny's serious medical condition. Kenny is a volunteer with Médecins Sans Frontières known in Russia as MSF, a medical organization that aims to assist the victims of conflicts and disasters, and to provide them with medical care. It is dedicated, selfless volunteers like Kenny who are committed to helping civilians in need that earned MSF the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999. Kenny has been living in Russia for several years. He was so moved by the suffering of civilians during both of the Chechen crises, that he decided to dedicate his life to assisting the victims of this conflict. Since last year, Kenny has been the coordinator of our medical relief efforts for the populations in Chechnya and Ingushetia. We have been helping health clinics and hospitals care for victims of the conflict by providing essential medicines and supplies, and repairing the facilities. Kenny did not choose sides. He only chose to serve the victims. He helped alleviate and bore witness to their suffering. And as Kenny often pointed out the suffering of the civilian population in Chechnya has been tremendous. The violence of the conflict has led to many deaths, disappearances and tremendous destruction and pressure on the communities. That violence against civilians has also set the stage for multiple incidents against those who seek to help them: humanitarian workers. As of today, most humanitarian operations have been suspended in the region, following Kenny's abduction. With the collapsed health system, ongoing fighting and a severe winter, the Chechen people need humanitarian assistance more urgently than ever. At this stage we are concerned about the misinformation developing around Kenny's case. At a time when all should be seeking to support his family and his colleagues of MSF in our efforts to locate Kenny, certain allegations are being made, circulated in the Russian media, that are distorting the facts or accusing the organization. For example, I want to restate for the record that at the time of his capture, Kenny was traveling in an unarmed, humanitarian convoy that had official permission to deliver humanitarian aid to hospitals. The convoy in which Kenny was traveling was fully authorized by all civil and military authorities. All the relevant documents confirming the legal status of MSF operations were offered today to the Russian Presidential Administration's office by our Moscow team with a request for an explanation regarding the previous accusations. The convoy was not armed. In Chechnya, we never deploy our humanitarian assistance, under armed protection, because in this conflict it would have compromised the independent, humanitarian principles under which we work in Chechnya and around the world, and which Kenny so forcefully believed in. As I said, we have no news of Kenny since Tuesday's events. Our thoughts and hearts are all with Kenny at this moment. Kenny's friends and colleagues join me now to appeal for his immediate release, unharmed. Thank you.