War in Chechnya
By Mohammad Shashani
The incidents in Kizlyar and Pervomayskoye are not supposed to be looked at as isolated incidents. We can't merely look at the incident and pass judgement. No one will justify hostage taking situation by any group if it is done for personal gain out of greed or evil intentions. The hostage stand off in Pervomayskoye is not as the Russians would like to depict it as an effort by the Russian army to free hostages taken by evil terrorist. First of all it has to be made clear that the group holding the hostages are freedom fighters trying to liberate their homeland from a colonial foreign power. The Russian colonial expansion into Northern Caucasus in general started in the Eighteenth century and organized resistance to this expansion started in 1785 by a Chechen leader named Mansur Usherma. The war to control Chechnya and northern Caucasus lasted until 1864 when the Russian superiority in numbers and fire power exhausted all men of fighting age in Chechnya. Chechnya has been conquered by a colonial power (Russia) since 1859. Chechens look at that era of their history as the first genocide of the Chechen people by colonial Russia. Between 1859 and 1944 there were many uprisings by the chechen people to free their land from imperial Russia and Communist Russia. All these uprisings were put down violently and the leaders were executed and many people exiled to Siberia. The second genocide of the Chechen people occured in 1944 when the whole chechen people were up rooted from their homes and exiled to central Asia and Siberia. There is a national shrine in the village of Khaibakh where (700) chechens resisting deportation were herded into barns and burned alive. It is estimated that between 35% to 50% of the whole chechen nation perished in the process of deportation and the ensuing typhus epidemic that hit them.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union the representatives of the Chechen people declared their independence on Nov. 27, 1990. On Oct.27, 1991 they held democratic elections with international observers present and Johar Dudayev was elected President of the Chechen Republic and received 90% of the vote. Russia didn't recognize the independence of Chechnya. All kinds of clandestine operations were conducted by the intelligence services of Russia to destabilize the government in Chechnya but it failed. It is interesting to note that the man in charge of these covert activities was the newly appointed foreign minister of Russia General Prymakov. On Dec. 11, 1994 Russia sent into Chechnya over 40,000 troops and hundreds of tanks, aircraft and heliocopter gunships and all of you have heard or read about the destruction of Grozny, Argun and hundreds of towns and villages throughout Chechnya. It is estimated that between 30 and 50 thousand civilians were killed in the last 13 months of the war of liberation in Chechnya. The economy and the infrastructure of Chechnya have been deliberately destroyed by the Russian army to force the Chechens into submission. The human rights of the Chechen people have been grossly violated by occupying Russian army. Murder, torture and looting of innocent civilians have been documented by international organizations. Filtration camps have been used to torture and terrorize male civilians. There is not a single Chechen family who has not lost a loved one in this war of liberation. The Freedom fighters have fought valiantly and still are fighting throughout Chechnya. The demand of the Chechen people has been the right of self determination guaranteed by the charter of the United Nations and all international organizations. The attrocities of the Russian army are not secrets. They are well known to the international community. The information has been made available to all major governments in the world. What has been the result? Passive condemnation of Russia by Western governments including the USA for using excessive force in Chechnya. Clinton considers the war in Chechnya an internal affair of Russia. I wish he would read the history of the conflict so he would know that this war is a war of liberation from the only colonial power remaining in the world with no condemnation by the international community.
Now with this historical background you will have a better understanding of the mentality of every Chechen.
- For the last two hundred years the Russians have killed our parents and
grandparents because we wanted to be free people.
In my opinion this is the mindset of the Chechen fighters. Regardless of the outcome in Pervomayskoye, the Chechens will attack other Russian towns and in the future they will not believe Russian promises of safe passage and more casualties will result. The majority of the Russian people don't care about what is going on in Chechnya. Since the Czarist times, the Russian people were brainwashed into believing that the Chechen people are barbaric and evil and must be destroyed to insure the safety of the Russian people. Likewise the communist rulers depicted the Chechens as untrustworthy and as agents of the capitalist west trying to destablize the communist empire.
The Chechens believe that the Russian people will pay attention if the war comes to their homes. In Pervomayskoye the Chechen fighters will fight until the last bullet and I don't expect any of them to come out alive unless he is badly wounded because these freedom fighters are fighting for a cause and are not afraid to die for their cause.
I hope this brief summary will give you a better understanding to what is going on currently in Pervomayskoye in particular and Chechnya in general.