Circassians mark day of ‘mourning’ in silent protest
Protesters, carrying Jordanian and Circassian flags, called on the Russian government to recognise the displacement of Circassians, which took place in the year 1864 at the end of the Caucasian War, as “genocide”.
“We are here to tell Russia that you must recognise the genocide which the Russian empire committed in the past. We — elderly, youth, men and women — are here to remember our grandparents who fought for land, honour and religion,” said Mohammad Hamzouq, one of the protesters.
In a statement published on the web, organisers said that over 1.5 million Circassians were either killed or displaced by the Russian Empire.
The statement also said that thousands of Circassians died of starvation, diseases and mass killing in the course of a hundred years of war between the Russian Empire and the Circassians.
According to Reuters, there are nearly eight million Circassians worldwide. Only about 700,000 live in Russia.
Protesters also renewed their objection to Sochi as a venue for the 2014 Winter Olympics.
“We say ‘no’ to Sochi 2014, because this was the last Circassian capital and it witnessed bloodshed. We refuse to allow the Olympic flame to go out using the blood of our descendants,” Nawriz Shapsogh, 33, told The Jordan Times.
Protesters carried banners in Arabic, English, Russian and Circassian calling on the international community to support their cause.
“This is a silent protest. We have banners in four languages… to deliver our message to the world in a civilised manner,” said Nawriz Shapsogh.
Jordan’s Circassian community is estimated at approximately 200,000 people.
Historians say that waves of Circassians started arriving in Jordan in 1878 and continued up until 1906.
The demonstration is one of several, which were organised by Circassian communities in 40 other countries worldwide.