A long tradition of silence is finally broken
By: Dina Baslan
"The United Nations must deliver results for a safer, healthier, more
prosperous world," wrote Ban Ki-moon, U.N. secretary general. "On this
U.N. Day, I call on all partners and leaders to do their part and keep
Oct. 24 marked the 63rd anniversary of the Charter of the United
Nations; the day was celebrated by U.N. agencies all over the world
through meetings, discussions and exhibits on the achievements and
goals of the organization.
The United Nations functions as a facilitating cooperation in 192
member states worldwide. The organization monitors issues pertaining to
international law, international security, economic development, social
progress, human rights and achieving world peace.
In the upcoming two days, the OHCHR (Office of the High Commissioner
for Human Rights), which is a single agency of the United Nations, will
be holding a regional seminar called Upholding Human Rights While
Countering Terrorism in Amman, Jordan.
Sixty delegates representing governments, national human rights
institutions and non-governmental organizations from 17 countries will
take part in the first event of its kind being held and concerning the
Middle East and North Africa region.
However, as we witness the plethora of conflicts taking place worldwide
- from scandals in China to slum dwellers in almost every developed
growing city to genocidal records in Africa - is one international
organization able to target all these issues, responding to individuals
in dire need of its intervention?
As Secretary General Ki-moon called out for partners and leaders of the
world to work toward the promise of a safer, healthier and more
prosperous world, I envisioned an audience of men and women tuning in
with dreams of their own.
I believe that minorities of the world, who are not represented by a
strong political body in the countries of their citizenship, also felt
a responsibility toward a promise of their own - a promise they took in
silence to fight for the freedom and prosperity of their own nations.
In an article by John Colarusso, anthropology professor at McMaster
University in Ontario and author of "Nart Sagas from the Caucasus:
Myths and Legends from the Circassians, Abazas, Abkhaz and Ubykhs," he
writes about a Circassian activist by the name of Fathi Radjab who, in
June 1990, attended a scholarly conference on the Caucasus at the
School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.
Radjab's goal at the time was to convince the Soviet authorities of the
Circassians' right to repatriation. Colarusso writes that Radjab saw no
reason why the Circassians should not be free to return to their
"He found, however, that the various organizations who concerned
themselves with international law and the rights of minorities had
never even heard of the Circassians," Colarusso wrote. "In effect he
was facing the detrimental by-product of the Circassian tradition of
civility and silence."
Seventeen years later, on Oct. 4, 2007, a group of American young men
and women of Circassian ethnic background stood in front of the United
Nations headquarters in New York City to stop the past from repeating
They broke the silence of their grandfathers. They sought to be heard.
"Truth will prevail," protesters yelled out.
The truth that Russia attempted to conceal the genocide it carried
against the Circassians back in 1864. Truth of the organized ethnic
cleansing that buried thousands of the families' corpses underneath the
slopes of Sochi, a city located along the shores of the Black Sea.
The International Olympic Committee signed an agreement with Russia
granting Sochi the award of hosting the Winter Olympics in 2014.
Today Russia celebrates its so-called "450 years of Circassian
voluntary association with Russia," after hundreds of years of war.
And today, may people embrace the truth because, for the first time in
centuries, the Circassian youth is speaking out, and so are many other
silenced minorities around the world.
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