Silence That Kills

Category: Europe, World Affairs Topics: Conflicts And War, Russia Views: 4478

The current Chechen crisis began either in 1991, when the Chechens declared their independence from Russia, or in 1994, when Russian President Boris Yeltsin decided to put the separatists down. The roots of the conflict are very deep. In the nineteenth century, Chechen opposition to Russian imperial expansion led to a series of wars and uprisings, which were brutally suppressed; where an estimated 1,500,000 Chechens lived in Chechnya at the start of the nineteenth century, the 1926 Soviet census listed just 400,000.

This sequence of revolt and repression continued into the "second" Russian empire, the Soviet Union. During the civil war that followed the Revolution, the Chechens fought against "white" forces. The Bolsheviks initially promised the Chechens self-government according to Islamic law, and promoted Chechen culture and the development of the nation. However, the bureaucratic and totalitarian character of the Soviet state was at odds with Chechen values and traditions, and uprisings continued during the Soviet period. Under Stalin in 1944, Chechens were deported to Central Asian concentration camps, and Chechnya ceased to exist as an entity within the Soviet Union. Up to a quarter died during the "resettlement", or were murdered. Under Khruschev, Chechnya was reconstituted as an "autonomous republic" or "independence within dependence" within the Russian Federation, and surviving deportees returned. For the Chechens, the deportation represents not only an episode of great suffering, but also a humiliation - a trauma which has made it impossible for Chechens to live within Russia as a national minority.

As the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, Chechnya declared independence from the Russian Federation. However, unlike the Union republics such as Georgia and Moldova, Chechnya's status as an autonomous republic within Russia placed it in a different position under international law. The Union republics, whatever their position in practice, were legally considered to be sovereign states within the Soviet Union. Chechnya, by contrast, did not have sovereign status, and its declaration of independence has not been recognized internationally.

This has meant that Union republics that never attempted secession, such as Belarus, were in effect forced into independence, while a region like Chechnya, the Russian and then Soviet and now again Russian state had striven and are striving to wipe out, was compelled to remain within a political framework that it rejected.

Post-Soviet Russia is the third incarnation of Russian statehood with which the Chechens have had to deal. The experience had turned out to be no batter than the previous two. In fact, it was much worse because neither in the 19th nor in the 20th centuries Chechnya was leveled to the ground, nor entire population were killed and tortured in such scale. While the Western world celebrated Christmas in 1994, Russian forces used heavy artillery, massed rocket batteries, and carpet-bombing to grind Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, and any Chechen village that resisted. During this war, the Russians have killed at least 100,000 Chechens, mainly civilians. Human rights groups continuously accused the Russians of widespread torture, mass executions, reprisals, and collective punishment in Chechnya.

Following his victory in elections in 1996, Yeltsin decided to end the war in Chechnya. Under the Khasavyurt agreements, Russian troops withdrew from Chechnya. But the issue of Chechnya's status was deferred.

After three years of relative calm, the second phase in the Chechen conflict began in late 1999, and it is linked with the emergence of Yeltsin's successor, Vladimir Putin, who became acting president when Yeltsin stepped down in December. Following the incursions by Chechen fighters into the neighboring republic of Dagestan, and a series of bomb blasts in Moscow and other Russian cities which left 300 dead, and which have never been fully explained, Russian troops re-entered Chechnya in September 1999 under the well constructed slogan "anti-terrorists operation". These blasts in Russia, which the Russian government blamed on Chechens, still remain an "unsolved mystery". However, there is evidence that at least in one Russian city, Ryazan, where a blast was prevented on September 23, FSB agents participated. 

The two wars have devastated Chechnya. The capital, Grozny, is as ruined as Stalingrad after the great battles of the Second World War. No one knows exactly how many people live in Chechnya now, but it is clear that the majority of the pre-conflict population is now refugees in Russia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Ingushetia - a Russian republic with no attempt of secession. It is also clear that the Russian government commits the crime of genocide in Chechnya.

The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines genocide as killing, injuring, or use of force with the intention to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group. The world can no longer pretend that Russia doesn't intend to destroy in whole or in part the Chechen nation. Hundreds of thousands are dead (more than 100,000 since 1999, and more than 250,000 since 1994), more than half of the nation is displaced, nothing has been rebuilt in Chechnya, the war is at a stalemate, but Russia continues to fight its "dirty war" against the Chechen civilians with no desire to even discuss a political solution or improve civilian conditions.

But the saddest thing is that the world turns its eyes away from the worst crime of our time - the genocide in Chechnya. The Chechens' sense of injustice lies, not only in their treatment at the hands of successive Russian regimes, but also in the attitude of the outside world to the extremely bloody and amoral conflict.

In Kosovo, Serb suppression of Kosovar Albanian separatism, which was much less cruel than Russian suppression of Chechen opposition, prompted a full-scale military response and significant Western action. Even though no one has been prepared to grant Kosovo legal independence or condone its integration into Albania, Kosovo is de facto independent from Belgrade, and under NATO protection. Macedonian Albanians have also achieved the most that they could in a unified Macedonian state. By contrast, pressure on Russia from the world community during the Chechen conflict has always been and is exceptionally weak.

Why is the international attitude to the Chechen conflict so strikingly different from the attitude to the Kosovan war? First, the Kosovan conflict is in Europe, and directly affects the major European powers. The Chechen conflict, on the other hand, is taking place in the world's backyard; refugees from Chechnya are not heading so much for Germany, but Georgia and Ingushetia.

Second, Russia is still a nuclear power, and remains a large and powerful nation despite the changes that have taken place since the Soviet Union's collapse. To offend it by, for instance, raising the issue of human rights abuse against Chechens by Russian forces would be dangerous. And third, Russia has successfully presented the conflict not as a political contest for power or intentional destruction of the Chechen nation, but as a fight against Islam and the forces of "global terrorism".

Russia's position has become virtually unchallengeable in the wake of September 11 attacks, and Moscow's support for the US-led war on terrorism. However, the picture is more complex. At the start, Chechens were just separatists, now they are "terrorists" and "bandits". But in reality, Chechens are nothing more than freedom fighters - people who fight for the independence of their homeland and who want to live in peace and justice. Chechens are the people who have suffered and are suffering a lot in the hands of Russian "democratic" government. Everything else is just an ugly myth constructed by the Russians to denounce and exterminated all Chechens. Another myth is that the Russian system of government is democracy. Democracy isn't about humiliating, degrading, discriminating against, and killing innocent people. Democracy is about equality and respect for each other.

But it doesn't really matter why the world stays indifferent to the Chechen tragedy. The only thing that matters is that the world is silent, and this silence kills innocent people. Chechens "living" in almost destroyed Chechnya are undergoing severe genocide. Their beautiful culture is being uprooted, and their wonderful hearts are being filled with unimaginable pain and horror. Their screams are not heard and their tears are not seen. So can silence kill? Yes, it can! The world's silence, in this case, is the worst murderer imagined. Russia commits the most horrible crimes in Chechnya, and the rest of the world is silent.

Thus, I urge the whole world not to turn its back on Chechnya, not to turn its eyes away from the tragedy of the Chechen people. The world must hear their screams and see their tears. It must imagine the pain that all Chechens are forced to bear. Everyone must understand that Chechens are our fellow human beings who are being severely exterminated by the Russian bloody state forces, and who need our urgent help. Only in that case we will be able to say that all of us have contributed to the world civilization and to the prosperity of our humanity!


  Category: Europe, World Affairs
  Topics: Conflicts And War, Russia
Views: 4478

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Older Comments:
Some writers have asked for the world to take note/action in Chechen conflict. My question is why should the rest of the world interefere in the internal affairs of another nation? And what is this world that people are talking about?. 'World' has interfered in Palestinian conflict and the results have been disasterous. The world has interfered in USSR/Afghanistan conflict and the results have been disasterous for Afghanistan. The world interfered in Korean conflict and the conflict still continues over 50 years, and has taken nuclear dimensions.

Essentially, the world in this case is the major powers like US/UK/Europe/China. For them to interfere, they must have a major interest in the conflict. They do not have any interest in this conflct, and hence they do not care to interfere, no matter how much sufferring. And the rest of the world has no capability at all, even if it had any interest at all.

Don't ask the world for any kind of help unless you want to live with the disasterous consequences; you don't want another Afghanistan in Chechnya; the victory Afghanis won against USSR has turned into a death-knell for the Afghanis. Solve your own problems. Right now, the war is going on in Chechynia, and the world is not taking any note of the conflict, because the rest of the world is not affected by this conflict.

So quit crying. Sympathy will not help either. Solve your own problems yourself. Be realistic. Like it or not, nobody gives anybody anything for free; every nation extracts its pound of flesh and blood before it gives any help.

Muslims need to be united. until we have armies willing to fight for the many just causes in this world, muslims should at least make others aware of the injustices and double standards faced by us. we should also learn the power of economic boycotting and set up pressure groups in our mosques.

thanx a lot to the person who wrote this article
because it seems that the whole world is ignoring the chechen crisis or trying to ignor it or even afraid to denounce it simply because of the russian power. and the example of kosovo that the autor gave was really impressif of how the world can be hypocrit
only the small nations are punished for genocid or crime against the humanity
i'll finish by encoraging the autor for the great work he is doing
and i apologize for my poor contribution

i feel the whole muslim population is being subject to immense tortune in every sense perceivable..the west which identifies itself as a civlised body boasting of international court of justice(which is just in name with no authority as we see the serb commanders who initiated mass killings and rapes all over the bosnia roam free), fail to understand the basic common sense..humanity..they have fought 2 world wars and know the pains of goin thru it..still they are silent to the wars that take place due to american/british madness..are they the same people who have big time human rights offices, websites and all sort of things related to human development dont bother even to find out whats happening in iraq, chechnya, afghanistan, india, ...the list goes on..
i feel that they should first go to such places to learn the value of humans are still existing in such extreme environments like iraq , chechnya and india (after the gujrat genocide-mass killings of muslims and brutal behaviour with their womenfolk..
there , they would find the meaning of what human is and it will be then useful for them to go back to their offices in high rise buildings across europe and the usa and start their work afresh..only then they can understand the pain other people are goin thru..otherwise, just goin thru some news papers and commenting on articles and making opinion polls does not have any impact unless they themselves imagine themselves to be in baghdad or kabul, rather than in metropolitan cities..only then they can work better ..may be i am deviating from the original topic of "silence that kills"..but my intention is to let the west know that its not only chechnya where killings are unnoticed..if u have a close look at what the western govt.s, especially teh usa and uk govts. are doin in the middleeast, i feel u would realise how much the europe and us have gone away from humanity..i wish inshallah things will get better..

That is true. But why dont the Islamic states like Saudia Arabia, Jordan, Libia, Pakistan, Iran and others help them. We dont have to wait for western help. We should raise up our voice in Midle Eastern countries, to wake them up first. The way that we are now, everybody can play with us. Like in Bosnia, Kosova, Chechnya, Afghanistan, Irak and most in Palestina. We should wake up ourselves, so that we can help our brothers and sisters all around the world that are being tortured and masacrated in front of our eyes. I hope All-llah wakes us up. Amin.

This article highlights the central tension underlying much of today's instability from the Indian sub-continent to Afghanistan to Iraq and in many other countries - self-determination vs national preservation. Frustrated by centuries-old conflicts, some Western observers have advocated redrawing the regional maps and carving up "artificial countries" created by former colonial powers. Let's even look at Muslim countries: In Pakistan Pashtuns in the North-West Frontier Province have long dreamed of an independent Pashtunistan with their ethnic cousins across the Afghan border.

Likewise, the dominant Pashtuns of southern Afghanistan have never forged a unifying national psyche. Tajiks, Uzbeks and Turkmens in the north have more in common with their brethren in neighboring Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. In the west, Herat province is reverting to its historical role as a virtual extension of Iran.

Finally, whether Iraq survives as a multi-ethnic nation may hinge on the Kurds, the world's largest ethnic group without its own state. Today, 30 million Kurds are spread across Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria, and repeated Kurdish rebellions have been brutally crushed.

On the contrary. The orgy of violence that accompanied the breakup of Yugoslavia would be a picnic compared to the carnage if dysfunctional states like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq fell - or are pushed - apart. Ethnic minorities should be careful what they wish for: reckless quests for self-determination may only sow the seeds of their self-destruction.

Don't expect Islamabad to give up Sindh and Karachi, Pakistan's financial capital and the source of most of the nation's revenues. Pakistan's eastern wing, now Bangladesh, won its war for independence in 1971, but 3 million Bengalis died in the process.

We as Muslims...seems to have lost it. But for Palestine, where jews have confiscated homes and lands of Palestininans, The Self determination can nowhere be termed as Jiha

Dear brothers and sisters,

How many times do we have to touch upon this topic of the helplessness of the Muslim Ummah? We keep talking about the same thing over and over and over and over again. There is one solution to all the colossal crises and bloodshed the Ummah is subjected to. The solution is as you all know: the toppling of the corrupt governments like those of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria and others and mass educating every one and without exception. This is it. There is no use talking about the same boring and dispiriting situation of our Muslim brothers and sisters. If the Muslim masses cannot do it, let the USA and others do it for them. I am tired of this shameful situation our folks are undergoing. Until when???

May God bless us all and give us the courage to revolutionize every Muslim state to bring the Ummah together!

Assalaam Alaiykum,
It is very sad to hear about the status of our brothers and sisters in Chechnya. The silence of world is finishing them off.
We, Muslims, have backed the fight on terrorism which included the Chechens' fight to free their land and move away from opression and merciless killings by Russian forces.
Day in - day out, the Chechens are facing the same war. My prayers are with the brothers and sisters in Chechnya.
May Allah (s.w) make us love and care about all the human beings, especially those of our brethen who are in Chechnya. Aameen

I totally agree with the writer the world is letting this genocide to go on , I would encourage all the faie minded people of the world to speak up.

To Mr. Romesh Chandar,

Stop opressing Muslims and stop occupying their lands be it Kashmir, Palestine, Afganistan, Iraq etc. then their will be no struggle for freedom, no resistant, then no TERRORISM no WAR. It is very SIMPLE formula.

What can we do I mean we can write articles have rallies do alot of talking but what about action,what can the average muslim do.any well thought out response would be greatfully appreciated,as long as it doesn't involve mere words

in my opinion if you not follow the right path of islam then these situations arises. So muslims should follow the right path of islam then InshaAllah they will get reward from Allah and these will be solve inshaAllah, so people of all muslim world should pray for chechnya's peoples in their supplications.........

I agree ,all you say

Good article, unfortunately not enough of them arround. To Romesh Chander, No individual or country will give up their humanity or freedom to anyone without a fight, not even to Russia or India. Sorry for being blunt but I truly wish you suffered the fate of Chechens (since you seem to like what is happening to them). May Allah help them in their struggle and have mercy on their souls.

Dear Ramesh Chander...
Thank You very much Ramesh for being blunt. The different between u and Muslim is we will fight until our last blood to defend our Religion and the truth. But unfortunately some of muslim using wrong way to fight their enemies...this is caused by they r not really follow what ALLAH said in Quran.

For Muslims...

".......And if you follow their desires after the knowledge that has come to you, you shall have no guardian from Allah, nor any helper" (alquran 2:120) .

Currently no matter who u are - educated (having PHD/Master) or not educated at all!, most of us(muslim) still followed on Nasrooni and Yahudee steps in every aspect of life.Did we have to seek help from them to hear our voice??? NO!! We have our own guidence (Al Quran) to be succesfull in life but WHY WE STILL LOOK AFTER THEM? Think about an above ayah(sentence) then think about our problem now.........

well there is oil in Chechnya, and that's why Russia won't let it go! the Chechnya mafia has been at war with the Russian mafia for decades but now that the Russian mafia controls the country they have an army to fight. the pipelines go through chechnya too.

In the name of Allah the most gracious, the
most merciful,the creator of the universe, No
one allows killing unarmed humanbeing due
to without reasons; Allah is great, and as long
as you're on the right path, you won't regret
and may Allah give us peace.
Remember killing humanbeing is not the
Insha Allah ta'alla.
In the name of Allah

Sorry for being blunt.

The situation in Chechenya is no different than it was in Kosovo, Kashmir, Sri Lanka or 1860's US Civil war. You start the war, you suffer consequences, like it or not; it is that simple. Nobody gives up the fight that easily. Russia will not give up that easily. India will not give up easily. In war, there will be atrocities; because, that is war all about. Today's atrocities are worse because the weapons are more far powerful.

Stop the war and atrocities will stop. It is that simple.

US intervened in Kosovo. But Chechenya is not Kosovo. If US/Europe intervenes, they will have to declare war on Russia; and Russia has nuclear weapons; and no nuclear state is going to declare war on another nuclear state. So don't expect any help from US/Europe. Currently, for Chechens, you don't find any sympathy from anybody in any part of the world (not even from any muslim state); their struggle has been lumped into 'War on Terrorism'.

It is rather odd that in Europe, to avoid any future war, they are trying to forge a union of widely different states; and Chechens are trying to separate. Seems to be nobody is doing any thinking at all. A small state like Chechenya could not survive in sea of hostility. look at it. Any of the Central Asian states which separated from USSR are doing terrible economically and politically (right now they are being manipulated by US; they will regret it later).

Don't expect any sympathy for Chechens. This war. In war, you don't expect love and flowers; and you are not going to get them either.

Stop the war and atrocities will stop. Continue the war and pay the price. Quit crying; nobody is listening to the cries of women and children, either.

In Chechynia, Russia will fight till the last Chechens.

Sorry for being blunt.

This is a very sad situation.I pray for the people to inshallah not give up the struggle.My question is why the muslim countries of the world not doing anything.

If Chechnya were to have rich resources like oil, America would have already deployed their military there fighting "terrorism".

At last an article for Chechnya, maybe Putin is worse then Sharon... maybe the paranoia on jews should be passed on to Russians... all that just to say that some conflicts are convered by world medias daily but others are ignored...why??!!!
So many muslim countries deal with Russia!! nothing else to say.

Shame on ordinary Muslims! Shame on the Muslim leaders! Shame on the Muslim elders! Shame on Muslim Youth! Shame on Muslim children as well! These shameless community is a sham. Why should America, Britian or France should condemn the Russian brutalities? Why? We Muslims are the greatest hypocrites in the contemporary world! They are the murderers of 1.5 million Iraqis, they are responsible for what is happening in Palestine! We Muslims are the criminals to say the least. We sell our souls for dollars. We sell our Imaans for dollars. We sell Taliban for dollars. We sell Baghdad for dollars. We sell Palestine for our thrones and dollars. We sell the brave Chechens for dollars. And if time comes, we will sell our women too. We shout foolishly in the Mosques (Muslim ghettos). Today, the whole of Europe and America is united against Iran, but not one Muslim country is OFFICIALLY supporting the Iranian brothers. Shame, shame and shame. I have no idea how are we going show our faces to Allah (sbt) and Muhammad (saw) at the day of judgement. Shuja