Lecture by M.Shashani at European Parliament (2005)
We present you the speech of Professor Mohammad Mousa Adel Shashani which was at the Conference held at the European Parliament in Brussels, be titled “Countering Violence and Creating Justice in the Caucasus“, and organized on Dec. 8, 2005 by the Green –EFA party in the European Parliament and the World Chechen Congress.
Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen:
On behalf of the World Chechen Congress, I would like to thank Mr. Bart Staes and his Green Party and the Pax Christy Flanders and the Action Group for organizing this Conference, and I also would like to thank the Leadership of the European Parliament for providing the venue for this conference.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
On December11, 1994 three columns of Russian tanks and armored vehicles invaded the Chechen Republic of lchkeria from three directions. They hoped for a fast victory. But the war has been going on for eleven years and there is no end in sight for human victims and to survivors suffering.
The casualty figures of this war reads as follows: about 250,000 civilians have been killed including 42,000 children and hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced internally and in the neighboring Caucasian republics. The casualties resulted from the indiscriminate aviation and artillery bombings that resulted in reducing the capital city Grozny to a heap of rubble.
The Russian occupation forces and the local puppet Chechen government have used brutal methods against the whole population under the guise of fighting illegal band formations, and unfortunately the main victims of these methods have been the Chechen civilians.
Russian and western organizations have gathered evidence of the disproportionate use of force against civilians, the indiscriminate targeting of civilians, extortion, kidnapping for ransom, extortion of money for return of corpses of killed people, “mop-up” operations that involved looting and rape , summary executions and mass graves, and “Filtration camps” where torture was wide spread.
By 2005, the evidence of abuse has become so overwhelming that even the human rights officials from the puppet government of Chechnya announced they have found 52 mass graves and confirmed that tens of thousands of people have disappeared since 1999.
Reputable international organizations have done the legal analyses of the crimes committed by the Russian forces in Chechnyaa and found a widespread, systematic pattern of abuse that meets the definition of “crimes against humanity.”
The Holocaust memorial museum’s-committee of conscience, stated that the entire nation of Chechens is under the threat of Genocide.
Russian Federal Forces have repeatedly violated the Geneva conventions and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The UN should enforce the Articles of the United Nations Genocide convention adopted by the U.N. General Assembly on December 9, 1948 and ratified by the former U.S.S.R in 1954.
Article I of the convention states that “Genocide is a crime under international law which the contracting parties undertake to prevent and punish”
Article II states the Following, ” In the present convention, Genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in a part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group as such:
A- killing members of the group
B- causing grievous bodily or mental harm to members of the group and
C- Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”
The Chechen people have been subjected by the Russian occupation forces to all these three conditions, and thus we can state that the Genocide of the Chechen people is in progress. Therefore, we call on the International community to enforce the Articles of the convention and save the Chechen people from annihilation.
Characteristically Russia refutes all these accusations and claims that the armed revolt has been crushed by 2003 and that Chechnya is undergoing reconstruction and economic growth. To which I say that is untrue, and state that the unemployment rate in Chechnya is over 70% and that every citizen is under the threat of torture, disappearance or death. In 2003 and 2004, Chechens were the largest population from industrialized world seeking asylum and they numbered around 50,000 people. 35% of the land in Chechnya is environmentally dead from oil pollution. Contagious diseases like Tuberculosis are rampant. According to a health official, one in every five babies born in Chechenia are born with serious pathologies (anatomic or functional manifestations of disease) .In Grozny one of every two children born is sick. Heart attacks and strokes are common among the young people of Chechnya because of daily stress and miserable living conditions.
The response of the international community to these flagrant violations of the human rights of the Chechen people has been down right shameful and despicable. The leading democracies of the world forgot that respect of the human rights of all people is an integral part of their national constitutions and that they are signatories to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva, Helsinki and Genocide conventions.
This indifference response of the international community has created permissive conditions for committing more violations. When impunity prevails, terror reigns supreme and the Chechen people are the victims. Western officials defend their inaction about Russian abuses in Chechnya because their economies reliance on Russian Oil and gas. So, the moral of the argument is that when it comes to choosing between the defense of human rights of other people and the economic interest of their own people they choose the latter.
This argument is dead wrong!!, and the future consequences of such a policy would be disastrous to these countries, therefore the general public of the governments holding this short sighted view should condemn this policy and complain loudly and force their governments to act to force Russia to respect conventions on Human Rights.
The honorable Lord Frank Judd, the former rapporteur of PACE, alluded to this issue and said (and I quote) “human rights are not an optional extra, but a muscular issue in terms of promoting global security. If Human Rights are being abused, there will be problems. Don’t drive people into their arms (meaning the terrorists) in their frustration. (The lack of response by governments and international organizations) provokes the very thing that we are concerned about, because terrorism operates most effectively when there is a climate of ambivalence”. Lord Judd hit the nail on the head and showed us the root cause of the problem of terrorism and let us not forget that the response to terror is always terror.
In my opinion, there are two types of terrorist actions:
1- Terrorist action committed by an individual or a small group of people.
2- State terrorist action.
The world has witnessed many terrorist acts of type 1 and the whole world condemned these acts. Nord ost and Beslan hostage taking falls in this category.
What the Russian government has been doing for the last eleven years in Chechnya, I classify as pure State terrorism with all the tools of power under its disposal. State terrorism is much more destructive and incorporates a large segment of the people as its victims, and still is not universally condemned as individual terrorism. State terrorism is justified, by the state committing terrorism, with some terms like, “Fighting International Terrorism” or” Restoring Constitutional order” or ” Preserving the territorial integrity of a sovereign state”. In state terrorism the victims are demonized and vilified and are always assumed to be guilty.
I wonder about the victims of state terrorism!!! Do they have any rights? Why did they deserve arrest, beatings, filtration camps, rape and summery executions with impunity? Aren’t they human beings like us with emotions and feelings? Don’t you think that Chechen mothers, have maternal instincts and feelings, towards their sick, terrified and starving babies or towards their young sons and husbands who are being beaten right in front of their eyes or shot dead on the spot, right in the yards of their own homes for not obeying commands. Or do we really care how they feel when they hear the screams of their teen-age daughters being raped in the next room by Russian soldiers who paid them a visit at dawn, under the guise of passport check of the Family?
The question I raise is this: are these victims of state terrorism considered as human beings!! and are they supposed to be protected by the conventions of Human rights of all people, and if they are, how come they have been suffering inhuman treatment for the last eleven years and no body has done any thing, to alleviate their suffering .!! And you, the good people of Europe living in democratic societies with constitutions enshrined with the democratic principles of justice, equality and respect for human rights, do you think that you have any moral obligations to demand from your governments to tell the Russian government to stop abusing the human rights of the victims in Chechnya!!
Russia will not change its policy of terror in Chechnya as long as the West looks the other way and pretends that they believe that the war in Chechnya is a war against a band of international Islamic terrorists.
Mr. Putin has demonized and vilified the Chechen armed resistance and considers them not to be human beings and thus have no rights; therefore they should be brutalized and killed. In a press conference in Amsterdam on Nov. 2nd.2005 with Dutch prime minister, Jan Peter Balkenende, Putin referred to freedom fighters in Chechnya as: “Beasts in the guise of human beings” and said European leaders who defend them and I quote ” Want to be more Muslims than the prophet Mohammad”.
Putin likes to insinuate that the war in Chechnya is a war between Christians and Muslims and thus Christian Europe should support his actions in Chechnya.
Mr.Putin, let me remind you that the war in Chechnya is a war of national liberation to be free of foreign domination and to exercise the right of self determination as recognized by the 1993 UN draft declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples. Assassinating and murdering Chechen Presidents will not end the war in Chechnya, because there are numerous Dudaevs, Yanderbiyevs and Maskhadovs waiting in line to take command and continue the struggle, and why is that so! Because a war of independence supported by the majority of the people will never be defeated.
All the governments of the world have failed the Chechen people and no government has come forward to defend the plight of the persecuted Chechen people.
Only NGO’s like Memorial, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society and the Moscow Helsinki Group have stepped forward and have been regularly monitoring and reporting to international organizations, the human rights abuses committed by the Russian Federal Forces and their proxies in Chechnyaa. But these NGO’s are frustrated by the inaction of the International organizations responsible for enforcing the various conventions on Human rights like the: UN’s human rights commission and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe(PACE) and the Council of Europe( COE) and the European Union( EU). Human rights activists claim that Russians play hard ball in International organizations meetings regarding Human Rights. One activist explained bullying exercised by Russians at the UN. He said that in the beginning of the second war in 1999,” when the UN was sort of interested in getting involved, we were getting messages that the Russians were saying “if you bring up Chechnya in the Security Council, we will veto everything else.”
The response of western officials to these threats and blackmail have been to acquiesce and give in to these intimidations and justify their retreat and inaction by saying that Europe depends on importing Russian oil and Gas and that they want to preserve their bilateral economic relations with Russia. They also claim that they want to engage the Russians rather than alienate them. The Russians deduce from this that the Americans and Europeans approve of their actions in Chechnya and therefore continue their brutal treatment of Chechen civilians which in turn results in extreme reactions of the Chechen side and the cycle of violence continues.
I think this cycle of violence will stop only, when the Europeans and Americans stand-up to the bullying tactics, employed by the Russians, in international meetings, and call their bluff about interrupting energy supplies to Europe, and threaten Russia with Economic and Trade embargo unless they respect the Human Rights of the Chechen people. It should be made clear to the Russians government that violations of Human Rights of people is not an option and is not acceptable under any pretexts and therefore they should comply with all articles of the Human Rights and the Geneva conventions .
It should be made clear to the Russians that there is no military solution to the Chechen problem and that the only acceptable and logical solution is through political negotiations between the proponents of independence and the Russian government. Holding fraudulent Referendums and conducting undemocratic and unfair Presidential and Parliamentary elections and promising the people Peace and Prosperity will not succeed in pacifying the Chechen people who are suffering on daily basis, just to survive in subhuman living conditions. There has been enough bloodshed in Chechnya and I don’t know for how long the Chechen people would tolerate humiliation and constant anxiety and subhuman living conditions. I think the people of Chechnya are a ticking time bomb and unless the world heeds the cries of worried and half sane mothers, and contemplates the terrified looks of children and old men who have lost hope in life and in the decency of human beings who turned their backs to their continued cries for help and left them alone awaiting death on a daily basis. When human beings loose hope and feel that no one cares for what happens to them, some of them breakdown and reach a conclusion that if no body cares about them, then they shouldn’t care about any body else and they will take revenge on society at large. And this is when the phrase “Terror Breeds Terror” becomes a reality.
The Chechen people want to live in Peace and prosperity in their own independent country and would like to have good neighborly relations with Russia and all other countries. The Chechen people extend an olive branch to the Russian people and carry no ill- will towards them and ask them to convince their government to stop the war in Chechenia and to live in peace, harmony and mutual respect with their Chechen neighbors.
Ladies and Gentlemen: Finally I salute you all for taking part in this Conference and I would like to say” God bless you all” and “God bless The Chechen Republic of Ichkeria“.
Thank you very much.