Circassians and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
By: Adel Bashqawi
19 August 2017
Circassians، in all their places of residence have condemned injustice, persecution and the procedures and measures taken by the police and other security services of the Russian authorities in the towns and cities of the Circassian territories situated in the Northwest Caucasus region. This confirms that there was no thought in the minds of those who invaded Circassia and destroyed the existence of its people on its ancestors’ soil by utilising a satanic and malicious mission other than crushing the nation that proved not to be the end of an authentic people with a deep-rooted human history in their historic homeland, which embraced a unique human heritage.
These tragedies were not to lead the fate of this nation, because it did not and will not be despaired or appeased, despite all the attempts that have been exerted and still, since falsehood, tricks and deception have taken their role so far; but “the truth will prevail.” The harsh, cruel and arbitrary methods and harassment of the Circassians in the towns and cities of their historic homeland in the Northwest Caucasus cannot be, but a Russian predetermined policy of hatred and discrimination against those who were converted into minorities in their own homeland, since they are not strangers, but the aboriginal inhabitants and the legitimate owners of their land.
For example but not to reflect the whole picture in this regard, we must mention some of the incidents of abuse perpetrated over the last few years, where the brutal and repressive tactics, the attempts of the authorities’ tools, together with the Cossack thugs, to have an impact on self honour and human dignity of the peaceful victims who do not follow violence approach. That includes harsh arbitrary measures and annoyance against Circassians, who have been geographically dispersed in numerous non-contiguous parts of their historic homeland.
— The last of these attacks took place recently on the 12th of August, 2017 in the resort town of Gelendzhik of Krasnodar province. “A small number of young Circassians were arrested on the Black Sea coast,” when they were dancing national Circassian dances in one of the public sites. The Russian local police supported by the local Cossacks have attacked them before being detained. “Some were thrown to the ground and beaten, while a young man was pepper sprayed. Circassian youth have been dealt with inappropriately.”
Due to the pressure exerted by the Circassian citizens, Salim Akhabekov was released from detention (http://www.natpressru.info/index.php?newsid=11291), while they demanded that the abusive police who used excessive force must be punished (http://www.natpressru.info/index.php?newsid=11290).
— During the month of June, the Circassian veteran activist Ruslan Gvashev and his compatriot Aidamir Basto from the town of Kichmay in the west of Cherkessia – Shapsugii were arrested, where administrative and financial penalties were imposed on both of them, for their participation in prayers held in Sochi area of Circassia for memory of the souls of those who perished while defending their homeland. This is what they and their colleagues used to do periodically in order to commemorate the sufferings of the majority of the Circassian nation, due to extermination and displacement in 1864.
The Russian security services stopped, blocked and prevented Circassian observers from the “KABARDA CONGRESS” who travelled from Nalchik to “Circassia – Shapsugia” in order to assess the situation up close. (http://www.circassianews.com/2017/06/08/3236/) (https://www.facebook.com/adel.bashqawi/posts/1632956900050868?notif_t=like¬if_id=1496835956333836)
The situation developed after several weeks when the case was appealed. “The Regional Court decided to return Gvashev’s case to the Lazarevsky District Court for a fresh examination due to violations committed.”
According to attorney Marina Dubrovina, the judge’s decision was influenced by a reference to the Religious Organisations Act, which states that the service of prayer and pilgrimage can take place without any coordination. Ruslan Gvashev personally took part in the court session despite the illness, stroke and heart surgery he suffered in late July of last year.
— In Nalchik, on February 7, 2014, Russian police arrested more than 50 peaceful Circassian protestors against the Sochi Olympics. The Circassian activists were arrested in the capital city of the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria after “they formed a convoy consisting of dozens of cars and headed to the center of the city. Protesters raised Circassian flags from the windows of the cars and held a banner in English reading “Sochi – the Land of Genocide”. As usual, the protesters who were released, they were beaten and tortured. In particular, an eyewitness report confirmed that the police had to carry Anzor Akhokhov to the courtroom to read his sentence in his presence, as he was unable to walk on his own feet as a result of beatings at the police station. His brother Aslanbek Akhokhov said – “Bruises covered all his body – his face, hands and legs – there are bruises everywhere as a result of severe beating” (http://www.interpretermag.com/putin-blames-circassian-protests-on- The-west-amid-arrests /? Utm_source = rss & utm_medium = rss & utm_campaign = putin-blames-circassian-protests-on-the-west-amid-arrests). “
— On December 6, 2010, Circassian Aslan Cherkesov of Nalchik, the capital of Kabardino – Balkaria, was arrested after a riot sparked by Spartak fans, followed a football game in Moscow. One of the fans was killed when they were colliding with Aslan where he was in a position of self defence. Aslan Cherkesov was brought to trial together with criminal proceedings against him. He was investigated in a prejudgment and jumping to conclusion manner of condemnation, and was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment. This is according to a statement that was given by Aslan’s mother, Sonya Cherkesova, during a meeting with reporters in Nalchik.
“The fact of the investigating bodies’ prejudged attitude towards my son is quite evident. It was manifested by giving him a “yellow mark” which means that may be he will be transferred to another location. This worsened his position which had been critical even without this decision, in connection with a broad resonance to the tragic incident”(http://justicefornorthcaucasus.info/?p=1251678789). Aslan’s mother expressed concern about her son’s life, and Cherkesov’s relatives considered that the death of the Spartak fan was a tragic incident (http://www.eng.kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/15522/). Also his mother expressed concern about the life of her son (http://www.eng.kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/16437/).
In January 2006, the Supreme Court of Russia issued a decision to decrease the sentence against Aslan, who was detained in Siberia, away from his homeland, by two months, angering Cherkesov’s relatives and citizens in his homeland, who did not rule out future protests for supporting him. www.eng.kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/19834/).
— The returnee to homeland, resident of Maykop and a shop owner, “Adnan Khuade, his daughter, and an employee were arrested on December 17, 2015 for 15 days after a problem that took place with FSB in the Republic of Adygea. Earlier, the Circassian activist had been under pressure from law enforcement agencies and it was reported that search operations were implemented at his place of work and at his home (http://eng.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/31840/). In a continuation to this incident, the “Caucasus Knot” reported that on May 5, 2016, the law enforcers in Maykop arrested Adnan Khuade, a Circassian activist, who returned to his homeland from Turkey. On May 11, the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) in the Republic of Adygeya reported that Adnan Khuade was detained for 15 days for driving his car without a driver’s license. Later on, the Russian Federal Investigation Commission (ICRF) reported that Adnan Khuade was suspected of having bribed an official (http://eng.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/35622/). (http://justicefornorthcaucasus.info/?p=1251677625)
The Patriots of Circassia Organisation submitted “complaints to the major international human rights organisations concerning the unlawful repression of Adnan Khuade against Russia.” The statement to human rights organizations stated: “As it is known by public, Russian security forces, including FSB, permanently maintain a campaign of harassment against Adnan Khuade who is a repatriated inhabitant of Maykop city, Circassian public figure and activist defending human rights and minority rights of Circassians. Adnan Khuade is continually prosecuted, investigated and detained by Russian authorities to intimidate aiming to divest him of struggle for Circassian rights before the public opinion of Russia. Said tools veiled by so-called legal forms are completely based on fictitious incriminations such as breaching of consumer law.” (http://www.cherkessia.net/news_detail.php?id=6948)
There are hundreds of other attacks across the Circassian homeland, not to mention the negative consequences of the Circassian returnees from Turkey, due to Turkey’s shooting down a Russian Sukhoi – 24 on November 24, 2015, right on the Turkish-Syrian border. “The crisis in Russian-Turkish relations that followed the downing by the Turkish Air Force of a Russian warplane two months ago has created an unforeseen and potentially disastrous situation for hundreds of Circassians from Turkey who over the past decade have settled in the North Caucasus and opened small businesses there. Those who have not yet obtained Russian citizenship now face expulsion from Russia, just as it happened with their ancestors following the conquest of their homeland by tsarist Russia 150 years ago.” (https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-expels-circassian-resettlers-as-turkey-relations-sour/27550147.html)
Unacceptable and unreasonable procedures continue to this day, even in the twenty-first century, where the Circassian citizens who wish to exercise their civil and fundamental rights in accordance with the applicable laws are arrested and detained and the local authorities respond to this by the application of persistent punitive measures without resorting to rules of logic and law, or principles for the implementation of justice against those who commit acts of aggression and assault on citizens. The detainees have been subjected to unjustified measures such as torture, ill-treatment, severe, inhuman penalties or degrading dignity, which there is much evidence of that.
What applies to both young and old can only be described as acts of Russian police, which are following steps taken by occupation tools in the shadow of injustice, persecution and denying civilians of enjoying protection in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which indicates in its preamble in this regard that “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world (http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/index.html).
This kind of deal can not be but a “disregard and contempt for human rights” which led to barbaric acts that only harm the human conscience, which is contrary to what human beings desire: “the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people” (http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/index.html).