52nd anniversary of the Chechen Gencide
By Mohammad Shashani
The World doesn't know much about the Russian Genocide of the Chechen people in 1944. The details of this monstrosity is contained in a book written in 1970 by Robert Conquest and titled "Nation Killers." Other North Caucasian people exiled were the Ingush, Karachay & Balkar.
Stalin and the Communist leadership was worried about a Chechen uprising while the German army was invading Russia during WW2. Therefore, in February of 1943 the Supreme Soviet met and decided to end the Chechen problem once and for all by deporting the whole nation to Central Asia and inhabiting Chechenia by Russian and other citizens of the Soviet Union. The preparation for the deportation took a full year. Army and security forces were dispatched to every town and village in Chechenia with the pretext of conducting millitary maneuvers. On the eve of Feb.23,1944 all citizens of the CHECHEN-INGUSH Autonomous Republic were to celebrate the Red Army Day in the public squares of every town. Security forces surrounded each public square and the military commander read to the citizens of each town the Decree of the Supreme Soviet of deporting the whole Chechen people to Central Asia and were ordered to report to specific deportation centers in few hours. You can imagine the shock and the psychological state of every citizen upon hearing this news. You are gathered to celebrate a holiday and you are told that you have been banished from your homeland forever!
It is worth noting that while this was happening, thousands of Chechen and Ingush young men were conscripts in the Soviet army and were fighting and dying to protect the Soviet Union from the invading Nazi army. Some men reacted in defiance to the order and were shot on the spot. The rest of the people were collected from each home by the security forces and forcibly loaded on Trucks and taken to deportation centers. In some villages where transportation to the deportation depots were not available the people were herded into barns, doused with gasoline and burned alive. In one town called KHAYBAKH 700 people including men, women and children were burned alive, and this heineous act was repeated in twelve other villages in Chechenia.
The deportation process itself was so cruel and not worthy of human beings. Hundreds of people were packed into each wagon. I have talked to some survivors and they said that they had to stand up in the wagons packed like sardines with the windows of the trains boarded up and with no stops for food and hygiene. Many people suffocated and died and their bodies stayed in vertical positions until the train stopped at its predetermined intervals and then and only then were the bodies taken out and dumped on the side of the railway with no permission to bury any of the dead. The deportation process included truck and train transportation and walking to reach the designated areas of banishment. Thousands died from lack of food and medicine. Typhus spread among the deportees and many perished from this disease. Once the deportees reached their destination they were sent to forced labor camps and the Chechens were the major source of slave labor that built highways in Kazakhistan, Uzbekistan and Kirghizistan through rough mountainous terrains. Each person was assigned a certain village to live in and he couldn't cross a bridge that connected two adjacent villages without the prior permission from the police department. The elders tell us that when people died in the winter time they couldn't dig the graves for them because the ground was frozen solid. They used to lay the dead in the snow and when spring came they would bury them again in the ground. In many cases members of the same family, fathers, mothers and children were separated from each other and the majority never saw each other again. This is a sample of what the Chechen people went through from 1944-1957.
What did the Chechen people do to deserve such inhuman treatment? The communist rationale was that the Chechen people collaborated with the German army against the Soviet Union and the truth of the matter is that the Chechen people didn't even have the chance to collaborate with the Germans because the German army never reached Chechenia. The reason is that the Chechen people revolted repeatedly from 1918 to 1944 demanding their freedom. The Chechen quest from the Czarist time has been always to be free and independent in their homeland. To exercise their God given right of self determination and independence. Czarist genocide resulted in the extermination of 60% of the Chechen population at the time. Communist genocide of 1944 alone resulted in the extermination of 35%-50% of the population at the time. The Scenario of Yeltisin's democratic genocide has not yet come to conclusion and we don't know what the final numbers of extermination will be. What we know as of today according to Russian sources is that about 50,000 people have died so far in the fighting and that 610,000 people have left their homes. Thousands of people have suffered some form of bodily injury from indiscriminate aereal and artillery bombing and they have no recourse for medical treatment.
Still some people would tell us that we are too emotional when we discuss the Russian-Chechen conflict. Of course we are emotional and if this was happening to your people you would be too. For the last 200 years we have suffered genocide and persecution because we stood up for our beliefs in liberty and freedom. How long will the democratic western world look the other way and pretend that they don't know what is going on in Chechenia? How long will the West continue in practicing double standards when it comes to standing up for the human rights of the Chechen people? When will the west and the rest of the world stand up and defend the human rights of a small nation against the aggression of a more powerful nation. All members of the United Nations have pledged to honor the Articles of the U.N. that guarantee the rights of people of self determination. The 1993 UN draft declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples states in its preamble the following:
"Acknowledging that the charter of the United Nations, the International covenant on Economic, social and cultural rights and the International covenant on Civil and political rights affirm the fundamental importance of the right of self-determination of all peoples, by virtue of which they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development."
Article 1 of the United Nations Genocide convention states that "Genocide is a crime under international law which the contracting parties undertake to prevent and punish." How did the world punish the Russian Genocide in Chechenia? First, our great President, Bill Clinton, declared that the Chechenia conflict is an internal matter of Russia and we couldn't get involved. Mr. President, since when is the mass killings of innocent civilians and the destruction of a country, the internal affair of the transgressing country? The President knows well that it is not so, but this is his justification to the American people (who are not informed at all about the Chechen genocide by Russia) for not upholding our own laws that prevent our government from extending any kind of help to a transgressing nation. Thus the $6 billion loan went through. About two million dollars worth of technical and development aid was provided to Russia. Billions of dollars of commercial credits went to Russia from Germany and other western nations and to cap it off Russia was admitted to the 38 nation Council of Europe which is supposed to be an organization defending and promoting human rights in the member nations. Two days ago the IMF agreed in principle to another $12 billion loan to Russia. These moneys are supposed to be for investment in privatization and economic development. These loans free other moneys for Russia's genocide in Chechnia. On Tuesday Feb 13, 1996, Anders Aslund, a former Swedish advisor to Yeltsin wrote in the New York Times: "Finally the West should stand by its values and call Genocide in Chechenia by its true name and evoke the human rights provisions of the Helsinki accords." Amen! isn't it about time?
This 52nd anniversary of the Chechen Gencide of 1944 is a sad day for all Chechen people all over the world and it should also be a sad and dark day for all humanity because on this day, 52 years ago, a beastly regime inflicted gross injustice on fellow human beings and the memory of the tears of frightened children and defenseless mothers should inspire us to demand from our governments to take a stand for our values and condemn without any reservations the Genocide being inflicted again on the people of Chechenia at the dawn of the new Millennium. Our governments should insist on the implementation of Articl 1 of the United Nations Genocide Convention in Chechenia.