Our letter to IOC, we sent on 23.07.07:
We, the members of the Organization Committee of Sochi- The Land of Genocide Campaign, strongly condemn the decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to select Sochi as the host city for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
Before IOC made its decision, every effort was made to inform the IOC of our concerns about the prospective environmental and socio-political consequences of the selection of Sochi as a host city and, in this regard, we requested them to act responsibly and decline any decisions which would cause an irreparable damage not only to the environment and human rights but also to the public image of the entire Olympic Movement.
The IOC ignored the deep concerns of us and environmentalists who are rightly concerned about the over-exploitation of the region. Yet, the Krasnaya Polyana ski area, where many events are to be held near Sochi, is an important part of nature reserve in the world heritage list of UNESCO.
Despite severe criticism and questions about human rights violations and Russian President Putin’s commitment to democracy, the IOC, through its decision, gave its seal of approval to his autocratic style of rule and imperialist motives. The granting of the Olympic host to Sochi by the IOC paved the way to cement the fragile conditions in the Caucasus where gross human rights violations, ongoing conflicts and the tightening control over free will of civil society have been prevailing for quite a long time. The IOC’s decision has meant to be an international validation of Russia’s anti-democratic and repressive acts in the region on a legitimate ground.
While trying to understand the rationale behind the IOC’s decision to select Sochi, furthermore, we could not help asking what if one of the candidates to host the Olympic Games had been Auschwitz Birkenau. Would it be of conscience and acceptable to select Auschwitz Birkenau, where 1.5 million people were systematically starved, tortured and murdered, as the Olympic host? In a similar vein, we ask how we are supposed to accept the Olympic Games to be played in Sochi and its surroundings which became a cemetery for Caucasians as a result of Russian cruelty to Caucasians during the Russo-Caucasian war in the 18-19th century. The Circassian-Ubykh nation inhabited in Sochi was almost totally massacred and more than 90% of the Caucasian population in the region was either exterminated or exiled.
Due to the above:
The decision, however well-meant and peace-oriented, is unacceptable.
The decision making process to select the host city for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games which turned into a battle of politics is far from the objectivity and ideals of the Olympic Movement.
The IOC, through its decision, apparently assumed a share of responsibility for whatever will happen in the future in the Caucasus, by showing neglect of such worldwide values as the protection of the World Heritage List and human rights as well as of its own goals and missions.
We once again underline that we condemn in the strongest terms the IOC’s decision. Committed to participatory democracy, freedoms and human rights, we will carry on our civil and democratic struggle for a stable and peaceful Caucasia.
MEMBERS OF THE ORGANIZATION COMMITTEE OF SOCHI-THE LAND OF GENOCIDE CAMPAIGN
SOCHI: LAND OF GENOCIDE
Honorable Members of the Olympic Committee
You could recently appreciate the preparations and promises of the town of Sochi, candidate for hosting the 2014 winter Olympic Games. During your visit, you must have been surely able to travel without any infringement to admire the natural beauty of that region. That is very lucky of you, because it is not the case for a great number of inhabitants of Caucasus where Sochi is situated. Those who want to travel to a nearby district where they are not registered need a special permit which may take up to 7 days to get!
When USSR collapsed in 1991, all those nations that got away from it could find a certain freedom of movement, except for Caucasians. Their situation as hostages of Kremlin got worse and worse each year. Unfortunately, they cannot even hope that the possibility of Olympic Games' being held in Sochi bring them a small pouch of air to breath. Such an event might have been indeed the promise of peace finally coming to the region. It could have been the promise of a window opening for inhabitants towards the external world. Unfortunately, the possibility of appointing Sochi for Olympic Games has already been acting as a nightmare because it is already serving as a pretext for more security measures, which mean more and more unbearable repression covering the Caucasus.
No, we are not talking about that far away (!) Chechnya torn apart by violence, we are talking about highly touristic nearby places like Dombai or Arkhiz, just behind Sochi. Do you know that those beautiful highlands are now banned to the local population of Circassians and Karachay? Only tourists having got a special permit from the FSB can have access there to admire the beauty of the blue mountain lakes, the green pine forests and to breathe the pure mountain air.
Do you know that those beautiful highlands are now banned to the local population? Only tourists having got a special permit from the FSB can have access there to admire the beauty of the blue mountain lakes, the green pine forests and to breathe the pure mountain air.
Caucasians themselves are kept away from their traditional highlands. Just like the blockade in the 19th century which isolated them from the external world, they are now tightly held in a new vice and separated from today's world.
The fragile economy of mountain people has shattered with those repressive measures. Their ancestors were already forced by the Russian invaders in the 19th century to come down from their highlands where they had been living since time immemorial. Many of them were massacred, and the survivors were forced to leave definitely the Caucasus, their motherland, to get refuge in Turkey, at the end of a very tragic exodus starting in 1864. Sochi and its surroundings are the native lands of Ubykh nation that do not exist any more. They were almost totally exterminated after their last battle of resistance in Krasnaya Polyana in May 1864.
Today, the few native Caucasians who remained in their motherland are forced once more to quit their mountains. Is it on those mountains, "cleaned up" from their native population, which the Olympic sportsmen are going to ski? Are the bobsleigh tracks going to be constructed on the bones of people annihilated by bloodful wars for the conquest of the Caucasus?
No, we do not want to believe that such a thing is possible. The Olympic flame cannot shine on a vast graveyard of nations. The Olympic spirit cannot be compatible with the spirit of a genocide. And we are sure that no Olympic sportsman would be happy to see the perspective of Olympic Games transformed into a hell for the local people. The vice which compresses those people today will not loosen with the approaching of Olympic Games; it will be just the opposite.
In these conditions, the Russian government should decide: whether the surroundings of Sochi are a dangerous region where it is necessary to multiply "cleansing" operations against " wahabi terroristes" in order to prevent bloodful events like those of Beslan or Nalchik, and in this case it would be totally insane to invite Olympic sportsmen and thousands of spectators to such a dangerous area where they would be a direct target, or the Caucasus is a calm and peaceful place without any ethnic tension, without any conflict, violence or confrontation, and in that case, the Russian government should explain the reason for all that repression, for all those "cleansing" operations, all those restriction on freedom of movement, all those check-points on roads which are becoming more and more unbearable for the local people. We hope that the honorable Members of the Olympic Committee will ask Russian authorities some explanation on those two questions and examine the whole thing in the light of the existing dilemma.
We absolutely do not want to mix up sports and politics, and we absolutely are not against Olympic Games taking place in another region of the Russian Federation, but we are against the games in the Caucasus stricken by blood and fire since many centuries already as well as today!
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