World Chechnya Day – A tribute to resilience

Emdad Rahman

Posted Feb 21, 2007      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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World Chechnya Day – A tribute to resilience


The celebration of World Chechnya Day on Friday 23rd
February is intended to commemorate the dignity and
resilience of a people who, against all odds, refused
to be erased from existence.

Joseph Stalin, On 23 February 1944 ordered the
deportation of the entire Chechen and Ingush
population to Central Asia. More than half of the
500,000 people who were forcibly transported died in
transit or in massacres committed by Soviet troops.
Those who survived the journey were left facing
starvation and disease in the harsh winters of Siberia
and Central Asia .

Within days an entire people had been erased from the
land of their ancestors. Overnight Chechnya and
Ingushetia were emptied of their native inhabitants,
and every reference to Chechnya was removed from
official maps, records and encyclopedias.

On 26 February 2004, sixty years after the atrocity,
the European Parliament passed a motion that
recognized this tragedy as Genocide. Actress and
campaigner Vanessa Redgrave when speaking about this
sad episode in history has said; “The Kremlin’s
Genocide of Chechen people has been accepted by
European leaders to the shame of us all.”

On the afternoon of Friday 23rd February 2007, the
Save Chechnya Campaign at
the Yalta memorial at Cromwell Gardens, South
Kensington, is joining with individuals and
organizations around the world to commemorate World
Chechnya Day to commemorate the victims of Stalin’s
deportation of the Chechen people in 1944. In 2004,
the European Parliament passed a motion recognizing
the atrocity as Genocide.

With regards to Friday’s event the Save Chechnia
Campaign Director Saida Sheriff said: “World Chechnya
Day commemorates one of the untold stories of the
Second World War; the complete annihilation of the
Chechen people.”

Seven years prior to the launch of a second Russian
military campaign in Chechnya, it is still too
dangerous for journalists to travel to this region,
where numerous “anti-terrorist operations” are being
carried out. 

Chechnya continues to be plagued by abductions,
torture, killings and other violations. Tatiana
Lokshina, head of Demos, a Moscow-based human rights
think tank became the focus of worldwide media
attention when she went on record to say that the
people of Chechnya continue to be victims of torture,
killings and abductions.(
).  According to Lokshina he statistics were obtained
by analyzing data provided by several human rights
groups operating in Chechnya Demos pointed out in a
thirteen page report that anything between Some 3,000
to 5,000 people have been victims of abduction since
the the beginning of the region’s second post-Soviet
war in 1999, mostly by Russian forces or local allies.
Some 3,000 to 5,000 people have been abducted since
the start of the region’s second post-Soviet war in
1999, mostly by federal forces or their local allies,
Demos said in the 13-page report. Most
abductions took place in Chechnya, but some in
neighboring provinces such as Ingushetia.

Vadim Rechkalov, a frequent visitor to Chechnya,
reports (
) that Grozny remains a dangerous city of ruins.
Reconstruction has taken place on a very limited scale
and the sewerage system has still not been restored.
However, residents are now able to buy water from
trucks at 50 80 kopecks a bucket.

According to Holly Carter, Europe and Central Asia
director at Human Rights Watch,  “If you are detained
in Chechnya, you face a real and immediate risk of
torture. And there is little chance that your torturer
will be held accountable.”  (

In research missions conducted in April and September
of 2006, Human Rights Watch, an independent,
non-governmental organisation, supported by
contributions from private individuals and foundations
worldwide, documented 82 cases in which Kadyrov’s
forces detained and tortured people, most of them in
unlawful detention facilities. Researchers also
obtained detailed descriptions of at least 10 such facilities,
most of which are private houses owned or used by
regional commanders loyal to the late Akhmad Kadyrov.
Things look even bleaker with the elevation of Ramzan
Kadyrov, (the son of the former President) from acting
prime Minister to President of the war ravaged Russian
republic. Kadyrov is believed to have a shocking
human rights record. ( )

In an unprecedented shake-up, Putin has also promoted
Sergei Ivanov to the post of first deputy Prime
Minister. Ivanov has claimed that what Moscow’s
efforts against the resistance in Chechnya
“international terrorism,” not “local terrorism,”
because “local terrorism now, in the global world,
simply doesn’t exist.”

After relieving Ivanov of his duties as defence
minister, Putin has appointed in his place Anatoly
Serdyukov, the Federal Tax Service chief who drew up
the multibillion-dollar tax bills against Yukos that
ultimately led to the oil giant’s demise.

World Chechnya Day is an event to raise awareness and
understanding of the Chechen genocide as an issue of
importance to humanity, to ensure that the horrendous
crimes, racism and victimisation that were committed
during the Chechen genocide will never be forgotten or
repeated, in Europe or elsewhere in the world.  Let us
all respect the victims of Stalin’s deportations and
recognise the suffering and genocide of the people of
Chechnia as a human catastrophe of historic significance. This is
also an opportunity to reflect on contemporary
atrocities all around the world that raise similar
issues and also an avenue to educating subsequent
generations about the genocide and the continued
relevance of the lessons that can be learnt
from it.

This article was first published on Islam Online: