The 58-th Anniversary of The Commemoration of The 1944 Deportation of The Chechen People
By Professor Mohammad Shashani
Here we are again on the eve of commemorating the deportation of the entire Chechen people on February 23,1944 by Stalin who headed,at the time, the evil communist empire of the Soviet Union. Tens of Thousands of Chechens perished during the process of the deportation because of cold weather, hunger and disease that spread among the deportees. Hundreds were dragged into cattle sheds, locked-up and the sheds doused with gasoline and set on fire and the occupants burnt alive. In one village called "Khaybakh" seven hundred people including women and children were burnt alive in this fashion. It is estimated that about one third of the Chechen population perished during the thirteen years of exile that they endured. In 1957, after the death of Stalin, Khrushchev rehabilitated the Chechen people and restored the autonomous Chechen-Ingush Republic. The injust and inhuman treatment that the Chechen people were subjected to, through-out the deportation period is well documented in many books and articles.The deportation of 1944 can be classified as an attempt to inflict Genocide on the Chechen people who through their resiliance,toughness and strong determination kept their nation alive and succeeded in bouncing back and restoring their Republic in 1957. Unfortunately for the Chechens this was not the last attempt to exterminate them.
On October 27, 1990, after the collapse of the USSR, a national congress of the Chechens declared the independence of the Chechen-Ingush Republic and on October 1991 conducted democratic national elections, monitored by the OSCE and other international organizations, and elected General Johar Dudaev with an 85% majority vote as the first president of the Chechen- Ingush Republic. In 1992 the Ingush peacefully seceeded and the name of the republic was later changed to the "Chechen Republic of Ichkeria".
In December 11, 1994 the newly formed Fedral Republic of Russia (to which Chechnya refused to join) invaded Chechnya with an overwhelming military force under the pretense of restoring constitutional order in Chechnya. This invasion reduced Grozny, the capital of the Republic, to rubble. The net result of the invasion was the complete destruction of the infrastructure of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria and the loss of over one hundred thousand lives of Chechnya's population. Inspite the massive human and material losses suffered by the Chechen people, the Russian army was dealt a humiliating defeat by the partisans and subsequently left Chechnya. On Jan.27, 1997 democratic elections, monitored by international organizations, were held and Aslan Maskhadov was elected president.
As if the Chechens didn't suffer enough loss in life and property in the war of 1994-96, the Russian army invaded Chechnya again in 1999 under the pretense of defending Russia from Chechen Fundamentalist Islamic Terrorists. They concucted the explosions of apartment buildings in Moscow and Volgadonsk and blamed the Chechens for that without any proof. Today many people in Russia and elsewhere suspect the Russian intelligence service FSB as being the culprit in these explosions. The Chechen people were again accused and punished for things they have nothing to do with. The Russian army unleashed again their military might on the civilian population and bombed Chechnya day and night using planes, missiles and artillary and leveled to ground every thing that was left standing from the previous war of 1994-96. The misery and suffering of the people multiplied and they were left homeless in the cold with no basic necessities of life. The continuous bombardment increased the number of dead and injured and some of the injured died for lack of medicine and others limbs had to be amputated. This new wave of aggression and Genocide resulted in the death of over sixty thousand Chechen people and the uprooting of over four hundred thousand people who were rendered refugees inside Chechnya and neighbouring Ingushetia.
The daily life of the Chechen people is a classic life of misery. The numerous mop-up operations of the Russian forces that result in the looting of personal property, beatings, torture and rape of women are daily occurances. Summary executions are rampant and the Russian soldiers have been given the power to decide, in any given day, who lives or dies in Chechnya . In the meantime the European and American governments are cozying up to the Russian government under the pretext of pooling together the resources of the world major powers, after the tragic Sep. 11 events in the USA, against the so called international islamic terrorists. Why is the struggle of the Chechen people for independence lumped with terrorism? The Chechens have been fighting against Russian colonialism since 1785. The banner under which they fought was the liberation of Chechnya from the yoke of Russian colonialism. It was so then in 1785 and it is so now in 2002. Through-out this period of time, Europe looked at our struggle as a liberation movement and now because Mr. Putin says we are Islamic terrorists, some European leaders are obliging Putin and implying that the Genocide of the chechen people might be justifiable. I like to remind these leaders that the Genocide convention adopted by the UN in 1948 banned Genocide regardless of the ethnicity and religion of the people subjected to it. Another arm of protecting the Human Rights of people is PACE, and its position lately has been so biased towards the Russian version of the events taking place in Chechnya, based on supervised and orchestrated tours to some refugee camps, and they don't respond to and use the documented proofs of Russian attrocities in Chechnya presented to them by neutral International Human Rights Organizations.
Repeated calls of the legally elected president of the CRI to the Russian government for cessation of fighting and initiating peace talks have been ignored and the only response has been always that the only talks they would have with the president is about the unconditional surrender of the Chechen fighters. If Putin thinks that the Chechen freedom fighters would ever surrender to the occupational forces after the loss of about 15% of their people and the complete destruction of their cities and homes he is not in touch with reality and human nature. If he thinks that time is with him, he is wrong. If he thinks that the Russian army will be able to kill all the freedom fighters he is mistaken. If he believes that this war is conducted only by a band of fanatics without a broad popular support he is mistaken again. If one hundred of our fighters are killed today, we will replace them with another two hundred fighters tomorrow. Besides our people inside Chechnya, we have another half a million Chechens living in Diaspora and are determined to carry on the fight until our home-land is liberated. We the Chechens in Diaspora are educated and live in free countries all over the world. We have the material and man power resources to support the struggle of our brethren in Chechnya for many years to come. Mr. Putin, you are mistaken if you think foreigners and International terrorists are the ones supporting and sustaining the war in Chechnya. This war of liberation is conducted and sustaind only by the sweat and blood and the uncompromising resolve of the Chechen people every where. President Putin, if you think that you will end this war by exterminating the whole Chechen nation, you are grossly mistaken because we will keep on comming and comming and sacrificing until our goals of liberation and independence are achieved. So I advise you to spare the lives of your soldiers and our people and start negotiating peace in good faith with president Maskhadov and stop this senseless war that has cost so much loss of life on both sides. President Putin: accept the fact that the war in Chechnya is not waged against some mythical International Islamic Terrorists but is waged against a determined, proud, couragous and Freedom loving neighbors of your people. Peace is better than war.
In this sad occasion, I salute our Chechen people everywhere and ask you all to stay united and never forget Feb.23, 1944 and never lose hope and to do what ever is possible to support the struggle in the home-land until we achieve our dream in living peacefully in our own independent Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. I also salute all our friends through-out the world.