By: Adel Bashqawi
22 September 2018
The First International Circassian Conference in Nuremberg
Throughout history, rights have not been lost to any nation in this world except when its people have neglected their prerogative to claim their freedom and independence. The political ruling that eliminated the entire Circassian nation was decided upon, whether implicitly or explicitly, by foreign great powers at the time. The unfair, prejudiced and oppressive decision was determined and taken in the absence of one of the Caucasus region’s oldest and largest nations both in size and population. This is a nation that has rightfully inherited their homeland from their ancestors. They had lived in their homeland since the dawn of history and they harbor a legacy, a heritage, and a civilization. These irresponsible agreements and treaties made it quite clear that a tragic future was awaiting Circassians.
The European Union’s leading role in the world requires more attention to be given to the Circassian Question. Europe bears a moral obligation to restore the Circassian legitimate rights. The European Union should consider resolving the different issues of the Circassian Question at the regional, continental and international levels. Being an oppressed European nation, Circassia must regain its legitimate rights in full and undiminished. The following is a review of the main and fundamental elements that could be used as a guide to thoughtful action as well as other proposals that could be established as a roadmap for future Circassia action.
There are several examples that can show the depth of the tragedy that hit Circassia and other nations of the Caucasus. One such example is, “‘Highlanders Leaving Their Village’ by Petr Gruzinsky [which] shows the deportation of Circassians, the indigenous peoples of the region from their homeland at the end of the Russo – Circassian War by victorious Russia. The expulsion was launched before the end of the war in 1864 and it was mostly completed by 1867. The peoples involved were mainly the Circassians (Adyghe), Ubykhs, Abkhaz, and Abaza.”1
Moral regression has thrown many off their ethical values and kept many in a deep slumber. Unfortunately, facts have proven that some parties have imposed a deceptive propaganda which was used as a terrible weapon in the hands of the hostile parties and proxies. This has made claiming the legitimate rights irrelevant and the calls for rectitude or virtue unfair and unreasonable! Those parties are, in reality, far from virtue and truth, while the underlying truth proves the disrespect and disregard of human rights caused by the deniers of legitimate rights.
Circassians were presented to their current tragic reality at the end of the Russo-Circassian war in 1864 that dispersed them in many geographical and political regions around the world between Motherland and Diaspora. The Circassians are dreaming of returning to their homeland one day. It is as if they are being held in virtual reality by dreaming of their homeland, while being unable to transcend that dream into a physical reality. It is like living in an imaginary reality or existing in fiction without physically reaching it. Reality has shown us that many centers of power are making it impossible to allow the Circassian nation to reach a de facto situation. They intend to use propaganda to keep the barriers and obstacles between truth and fiction, leaving the restoration of legitimate rights illusive, unlikely, or even impossible. Art. 1 (2) UN Charter says: “All peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development. All peoples have the right to self- determination.”2
Russia’s Chronic Failure to Solve the Circassian Question
— The Circassians in the North Caucasus and Diaspora, in addition to other non-Russian peoples in the Russian Federation, were outraged. They expressed displeasure at the Russian State Duma vote that made the teaching of any national language voluntary, while keeping Russian as the main language. “The Duma’s passage on first reading of the Kremlin’s language bill that would make the study of all languages in Russia except Russian purely voluntary by a vote of 373 to 3 with one abstention has sparked outrage in the non- Russian republics generally and the Circassian ones in particular as an appalling case of the center’s ‘purely imperial policy’.”3
— The situation led to a meeting of local prominent leaders who condemned the devious move. “A meeting of 200 leading intellectuals and officials in Kabardino-Balkaria unanimously denounced the Kremlin’s proposed language bill, saying that it is another step toward Moscow’s demolishing of the non-Russian republics and toward the launch of a new Russian wave of ethnocide against the Circassians and other non- Russian nations.”4— In a blatant defiance to the right of Circassians return in general, the Russian state has granted a refugee status to only two of Syria’s Circassians out of 3,000 requests of those who wish to live in their homeland5. People of Russian origin who ran away from Crimea several years ago, have taken refuge in the North Caucasus. They were given a welcome reception, and given priority to be served and treated according to first class services. “Moreover, in one infamous case, the Russian authorities expelled Syrian refugees from sanatoriums in Kabardino-Balkaria in order to provide housing for refugees from Ukraine following the Russian invasion of that country and the Crimean Anschluss, Khatzhukov continues.”6