Open letter to Presidents and Prime Ministers of the big seven countries.
Open letter to Presidents and Prime Ministers of the big seven countries
Dear sirs. I, Aslan Maskhadov, the democratically elected President of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, am writing this desperate message on behalf of my people, which became a victim of war and genocide. Murders that happen daily at this war have not still stirred the consciousness of the world that you head. We are as unfortunate, condemned and enslaved as you are rich, mighty and free. Soon you will gather in Genoa among the gorgeous ceremonies suitable for your status among other countries. Guards of honor will greet you, you will meet in palaces, and the entire world will catch every your word. On my side, I write you from the land smelling of the death and spilt blood. I, like my brethren, is chased in my own country. I, like you, was elected by my people and the privilege and responsibility to lead my people, but Moscow calls me a bandit, a terrorist and a criminal. Outside my tiny country my words mean little, and the cry of my tormented people leaves you dumb-and-deaf. So I shall write until your silence is broken.
You will gather for summit talks to discuss the writing off debts of poor and undeveloped countries. This is a worthy enterprise, and it undoubtedly will give to millions hope that the acknowledgement of humanitarian problems will impel the strong of this world to put an end to the misery, to which the weak are destined. But if you acknowledge that misery is a form of the concealed violence over the poor and hungry, then why turn your eyes from us? Indeed, why we, dying in the fire of the Kremlin war, do not deserve compassion? What has made us invisible in your eyes? I am afraid that I know the answer. I am afraid that your passivity is caused by the cold-blooded demands of the Realpolitik, and this makes us doomed. Not to damage the unstable relations with the new and unreliable Russia, you try not to notice the extermination of my people. From your viewpoint, our people may be sacrificed for the sake of great profits. And so you invite to your table the honorable guest, Russia President Vladimir Putin, you shake hands with him as with the leader of a great democratic country, greeting him as a reformer, who shares your values.
If you could only see the real face of Chechnya wriggling under the iron hill of the Russian occupation, could you then shower these praises sincerely? Once the population of Chechnya numbered one million, now one of seven Chechens is dead. Quarter of a million of our citizens are refugees. They are deprived of the most essential things, many of them are exhausted with diseases and undernourishment, especially oldest and youngest. More than 20 000 of peaceful citizen and warriors of the resistance are put to the new GULAG, to so-called filtration camps.
They under inhumanely filthy and primitive conditions, with negligible medical aid, the level of which is much lower than required by the standards of the Russian penitentiary system, or without any aid. Inmates of these camps are systematically tortured in a sadistic way. Such beastly methods as burning lighted cigarettes on their flesh, brutal beatings, suffocation, drowning in human feces, cutting off organs with knives, high-voltage electric shocks, sexual harassment do not exhaust the list of systematically applied tortures. Many convicts are killed after all. The death for many of them is restful and desirable.
Our women are group-raped. The applied war technique is the tactic of scorched land: villages are robbed and then wiped off, and men, including boys of 15, disappear tracelessly during purges. Any Chechen may be arrested without any warrant and be executed without any verdict. Mass executions is the everyday reality for man, women and children of all ages. The bodies of the executed are often mutilated and put to the public sight; it is forbidden to bury the bodies. Out deads turned to be a kind of currency. Russian soldiers chisel from relatives enormous sums of money for the bodies. Countless collective graves are hidden in the soil, spotted with ruined villages and burning ruins. The social infrastructure ceased to exist.
Only during the last fortnight scores of villages in South-East and West Chechnya again became victims of the terror, more than 300 peaceful citizens were killed during the purges, thousands are thrown to prisons, tortured and raped. We informed the Council of Europe, but in vain. This is another somber demonstration of the Realpolitik. Terror, slaughter and insanity – that is the price we pay for the sober pragmatism of the international diplomacy.
In 1945 you defeated the evil of militarism, fascism and nazism. Those countries, which gave birth to the monstrous Holocaust of the world war, took the oath never to repeat their fatal errors and appeared to be capable of generating a new spirit to win the right to stand side by side with the old democracies. During half a century you have been founding new institutions of community, the UNO, NATO, EC and OSCE, as well as other regional and worldwide organs aimed at the creation of more just and safe future. You have prevented the Apocalypse of the nuclear conflict, your pressure destroyed the Berlin Wall, throwing down the yoke of communism, and stopped the long cold war. You dismantled your colonial empires and let the enslaved peoples to go their own way. You fought racism at home and abroad, and your voices helped to wash off the stain of apartheid. Again and again you protected democratic values and defeated dictatorships. Possibly, it began in Nuremberg, when you obeyed your noblest instincts and set the principles of the force of the right and of human rights as inviolable universal principles, according to which barbarians shall be responsible for their crimes by laws prescribing the civilized behavior.
Why do you positively treat the arrest of Slobodan Milosewic, who at last got to the dock in the Hague, and, at the same time, embrace Vladimir Putin as a respected partner? How could it happen that you mobilized your forces to repel the insolent aggression in the Persian Gulf, how could you struggle for stopping ethnic purges and atrocities in Bosnia, Kosovo, Timor and Sierra-Leone, and, at the same time, refrain from even pronouncing the world Chechnya. You condemn and isolate the regime SLORC in Myanma and talibs in Afghanistan. You exert pressure on China for its actions in the Tibet and for persecutions of dissidents-intellectuals and supporters of religious cults, but say nothing about mass murders of peaceful Chechens. You conduct permanent diplomatic negotiations, trying to ensure peace in the Near East, North Ireland, Macedonia, Kashmir, Congo and even in Sudan; where are your peaceful initiatives concerning Chechnya?
On behalf of my exterminated nation I beg you not to leave us alone. I beg all of you to undertake steps for resuming peaceful negotiations and immediate stopping the war, guaranteed and controlled by neutral countries. I beg you to demand, according to the international right, to expand the system of humanitarian and medical aid, desperately needed by us. I beg you to require the unhampered return of human rights protectors, international observers and journalists, who now are forbidden to enter Chechnya. I address you as leaders of the free world in the hope that you will find moral courage to act according to the democratic traditions that you represent and that you took oath to obey. I hope that you will exert pressure on Russia to make them stop annihilating my country, to make Russia responsible for genocide of my people and to use sanctions against Moscow, if the Russian government do not obey.
The cruelty, from which we suffer is not new for us. We remember Stalins salt mines, watchtowers, barbed wire and anonymous graves. We already know the pain of the exodus and genocide. We know our brethren, who suffered as much. They are skeletons of Jews and Gypsies in the ovens of Dahau and Oswencim. They are people pierced with bayonets in Nantsin. They are ancient and naive people of Biafra. They are a woman with infant begging mercy standing before armed soldiers in the village of May Lay. They are the Arabs of Iraq suffocating in clouds of mustard gas. They are Tutsi of Ruanda, knifed on the road Kigali by cutthroats from Interhamwe. All of them are out brethren in suffering, who became victims of senseless murders.
The difference is that our blood is spilt not in the past, but in the nightmarish present. Just think how many Chechens will die during the time when you read this letter! How many people will be buried during your summit talks? Do not be silent, for the sake of humanity and justice, act now! Act rightly or, after some time the history will inscribe you on the pages of shame. If you continue to stand aside doing nothing while my people perishes in the bloody meat chopper of the war, if you do not act with the sureness and resolution, as you did it in Ruanda, the ghosts of the murdered Chechens will stain your honor, as the honor of Russia.
Let god give you sagacity and insight for serving the cause of peace and justice.
Aslan Maskhadov, the President of the Chechen Republic Ichkeria
19 July 2001
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