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Fatima Tlisova Speaks To The Parliament Of Finland

posted by eagle on June, 2009 as CIRCASSIA ADIGA

Fatima Tlisova Speaks To The Parliament Of Finland

Click Here To Download Power Point Presentation

FINROSFORUM 2009 | Helsinki 25-26 May 2009

The Finnish-Russian Civic Forum held its third annual conference,FINROSFORUM 2009, in Helsinki on 25-26 May 2009. The event organizers include their partner organizations in both Finland and Russia, including the Human Rights Group of the Finnish Parliament. The conference had received major backing from the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The main themes of the two-day conference were the rights of ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities as well as the question of political prisoners in today’s Russia. The conference venue had taken place in the Parliament House in the city centre of Helsinki. The languages used were Russian and English with simultaneous interpretation.

The following is the presentation that the Circassian Journalist, Fatima Tlisova had presented when she spoke on Circassians in Helsinki, Finland and particularly to the Parliament of Finland about history, culture and current situation in regard to Circassia, which is considered the first time ever, that anyone had spoken on Circassians in Helsinki:

Fi maxywo fywo!

I would like to express my gratitude to the Finrosforum, to the members of the Parliament of Finland and EU for inviting me and especially for the opportunity to talk about the Circassians, for whom this time of the year is very special.

On May 21st Circassians all over the world commemorated the 145th Anniversary of the Circassian Genocide and paid tribute to the victims and survivors. The Picture you see on the screen has been taken in New York five days ago before the building of Russian Consulate. It is the first time in contemporary History that Circassians called for Freedom in their collective statements, using the slogan “Free Circassia Now” that I have chosen to be the Topic for my presentation today.

Who are the Circassians, known also as Adyghes?

I would like to read briefly an extract from the research called “The forgotten Genocide” written by American scholar Steven Shenfield in combination with the quotes from the article on Circassians written by Canadian professor John Colarusso. 

 “Few surviving ethnic groups are more ancient than the Circassians.

You will find no place called ‘Circassia’ on any contemporary map. However their ancestors lived in roughly the same area of the Northwestern Caucasus since 1500 BC. Circassia in the middle of the eighteenth century, prior to tsarist Imperial conquest, occupied an area of 55,663 square kilometres – rather greater than the area of Denmark – and possessed an indigenous population in excess of two million.


During much of their history, Circassians existed independently. The stratified and militaristic society of the Circassians prevented them from being conquered for thousands of years. They enjoyed close cultural and trading ties with the ancient Greeks, especially with the Athenians, and even participated in the Olympic Games.




After the centuries of military alliance Russia broke the agreement and attacked Circassia. The Circassians fought against Russian conquest for over a century, from 1763 to 1864 – longer than any other people of the Caucasus. Their final defeat in the 1860s led to massacre and forced deportation, mainly across the Black Sea to Turkey.


Genocide and Exile

“How many Circassians, then, perished from death in battle, by massacre, drowning, hunger, exposure and disease? Prior to the Russian conquest, the Circassians (including the Abkhaz) numbered about two million. By 1864, the north-western Caucasus had been emptied of its indigenous population almost in entirety. About 120-150,000 Circassians were resettled in places elsewhere in the Empire set aside by the Russian government. About 500,000 were deported to Turkey; in addition, thirty thousand families - perhaps 200,000 people - had emigrated voluntarily in 1858, prior to the deportations. That still leaves well over one-half of the original population unaccounted for, to which must be added those who-died at sea or on arrival. The number who died in the Circassian catastrophe of the 1860s could hardly, therefore, have been fewer than one million, and may well have been closer to one-and-a-half million.


The scholar asks:

Did the Russian conquest and deportation of the Circassians constitute the deliberate genocide of a people, or was it ‘only’ a case of ethnic cleansing carried out with brutal disregard to human suffering? Obviously the Circassian tragedy set a precedent for the Armenian genocide, implying that what happened was at least comparable to genocide”


Circassians in exile

The catastrophe that befell the Circassians in the 1860s put their survival as a people at risk both inside the Russian empire (and later the Soviet Union and its successor states) and in exile.


However, among the great majority of Circassians living in exile, the Circassian identity was better able to hold its own against narrower identities. The challenge it faced was of a different kind - that of gradual assimilation into the host societies of Turkey and the Middle East. Over time the exiled ‘Circassians’ tended to become ‘Turks (or Jordanians, etc.) of Circassian descent’. Nevertheless, even in Turkey the younger generation still speaks Circassian. In Jordan, Palestine-Israel, Saudi Arabia and other countries that formed part of the Ottoman empire, compact communities of Circassians still exist. In Jordan, Circassians exercise important functions as military officers and businessmen. Two Circassian villages remain in the Balkans, one in Kosovo and one in Transylvania.


In the Homeland

The effects of the Soviet period on the ethnic identity of the Circassians, as on that of other indigenous peoples, were complex and shifting. Certain aspects of the indigenization policy did serve further to weaken and fragment Circassian identity. In 1927 what had previously been a single Circassian literary language was split into two separate literary languages: Kabard-Cherkess and Adygei.  Also Circassian groups were, both in the 1920s and later, arbitrarily put together with the Karachai and Balkar, who speak a Turkic language, to form mixed ethnic territories

The later Soviet period witnessed a return to the policy of Russification.

Human rights in the North-western Caucasus

It is very common observation that the human rights conditions in the North-western Caucasus are more the less stable in comparison with the Eastern Caucasus. However what I am going to show on the next two slides are the evidence that the Human rights policies of the Russian state are obviously not less violent on the territories that are not announced as the zone of war or co-called counter-terror operations. I have to alert the audience that the next two slides are extremely difficult to watch.



As the Winter Olympics in Sochi approaches, the Circassians remind the world that Circassian blood spilled in Sochi was a systematic attempt to eradicate the whole Nation. An international celebration of the Olympic Games on this holy ground will be viewed as an atrocity by the millions of Circassians around the world and the many thousands of scholars that are currently working on shedding light on this hidden secret of human tragedy.

In conclusion

On the Memorial Day, the Circassian Diaspora in the United States made a public statement. I would like to read for you briefly an excerpt from the statement, as a response to the question concerning the future of Circassians:

Our focus for the observance will be to Free Circassia Now, to recognize the Circassian Genocide and to stop the Sochi Olympic Games.


It is estimated that more than 1.5 million Circassian men, women and children were killed, and more than one million others were expelled from their homeland.

It is long past time to formally recognize the Circassian Genocide. If we ignore history, then we are destined to repeat the mistakes of the past. The genocides in Rwanda and Darfur remind us that we must do more to prevent this from ever happening again.


On this anniversary, we must remember the victims and survivors of the Circassian Genocide. The persecution from the past continues to plague the current Circassian population under the control and enforcement by the Russian Federation to this very day. We must provide the leadership to ensure that this human tragedy is not repeated.


Seven generations of men in my family died fighting for the Freedom of their Homeland. Seven generations of women in my family became widows at the age of 30, including myself.

This pain lives in my heart. The blood of the generations of Freedom fighters runs in my veins as well as in the hearts and veins of millions of Circassians around the globe. We deserve our Freedom, and Independence.

The Independence is not something never experienced for the Circassians. What you see on this slide is the Declaration of Independence of Circassia, addressed to the courts of Europe in 1837. Europe ignored the brutality of Russia against the Circassian people struggling for survival, and that is the story of how the tolerance supported genocide.

Today the Nations of Europe can fix the mistakes of their ancestors. We, Circassians, around the World call for your attention, and support on our long way to our beloved Homeland. Free Circassia is the only future for our Nation, this is the goal that we, 6 millions of the Circassians, are going to achieve for the holy memory of our ancestors and for the safety of upcoming generations. 

Click Here To Download Power Point Presentation

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