Nobel Peace Laureate defends the Russian – Chechen Friendship Society
Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace laureate has passed a letter to the Russian President in connection with the possible closure of the Russian – Chechen Friendship Society.
On 17 January, the Russian Ambassador in the USA was handed a letter from Elie Wiesel, addressed to Vladimir Putin. A copy was also passed to the US Ambassador in Russia.
The Russian – Chechen Friendship Society was informed of this by David Philips, Executive Director of the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity.
In his letter, Elie Wiesel expresses serious concern over the rise in authoritarian trends in Russia reflected in the possible closure of the Russian – Chechen Friendship Society, the murder of Anna Politkovskaya and the worsening situation in Chechnya.
Elie Wiesel is a survivor of the Holocaust. He was fifteen years old when he and his family were deported by the Nazis to Auschwitz. His mother and younger sister perished, his two older sisters survived. Elie and his father were later transported to Buchenwald, where his father died shortly before the camp was liberated in April 1945.
One of the most piercing testimonies of the horror for millions sent to the concentration camps is his memoir, La Nuit or Night. He has written more than forty literary and publicist works.
In 1978, President Jimmy Carter appointed Elie Wiesel as Chairman of the Presidents Commission on the Holocaust. In 1980, he became the Founding Chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council.
Elie Wiesel has devoted his life to helping the defenceless.
In his speech on receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, he said the following:
“I remember: it happened yesterday, or eternities ago. A young Jewish boy discovered the Kingdom of Night. I remember his bewilderment, I remember his anguish. It all happened so fast. The ghetto. The deportation. The sealed cattle car. The fiery altar upon which the history of our people and the future of mankind were meant to be sacrificed.
I remember he asked his father: "Can this be true? This is the twentieth century, not the Middle Ages. Who would allow such crimes to be committed? How could the world remain silent?"
And now the boy is turning to me. "Tell me," he asks, "what have you done with my future, what have you done with your life?" And I tell him that I have tried. That I have tried to keep memory alive, that I have tried to fight those who would forget. Because if we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices.
And then I explain to him how naïve we were, that the world did know and remained silent. And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must - at that moment - become the center of the universe.
[The entire speech and more about Elie Wiesel can be found at:
Please see the links below for information about the Russian – Chechen Friendship Society.
With consideration scheduled by the Russian Federation Supreme Court of the cassation appeal against the liquidation ruling, the Society is continuing to receive letters of support from people concerned about justice and striving for a peaceful solution to the bloody impasse over Chechnya.