Window on Eurasia
February 15 – Representatives of the Circassian diaspora staged a
demonstration at the site of the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games on
Saturday as part of their ongoing campaign to have the International
Olympic Committee move the 2014 Games from Sochi, the site of a
Russian genocide of the Circassians in the nineteenth century.
The message of the Circassians both in the Canadian City and on
their new website -- nosochi2014.com/ -- which were organized by the
Circassian Cultural Institute in the United States, is that "if you let
the 2014 games go on as planned in Russia, you’ll be skiing on the
graves of our oppressed ancestors”
Youghar, one of the organizers and participants, said in advance of the
Vancouver protest that the Circassians planned to use the event talk
"about the tragedy of1864, about the genocide of the Circassians, about
the deaths of many hundreds of thousands of Circassians in the course
of the war, and about the forced expulsion of those who remained” from
He pointed out that "up to now Russia
has not recognized its guilt in the matter. And therefore an Olympics,
which is the symbol of peace, cannot be held on such a territory. It
would be wrong to hold such games in Darfur or Auschwitz,” and the
world should be equally concerned about the Circassian genocide (www.natpress.net/stat.php?id=4958).
television ignored the Circassian demonstration, which was entirely
peaceful and which the Canadian police defended, even though Russian
publicity about Sochi continued and even though Moscow continues to try
to subvert the anti-Sochi effort of the Circassians (www.kasparov.ru/material.php?id=4B790113444A5 and www.justicefornorthcaucasus.com/jfnc_message_boards/circassia_adiga.php?title=farce-%22cirkccisiad%22-reveals-itself&entry_id=1265433769).
But a commentary posted today on the
widely-read Russian-language Circassian news portal underscored just
how serious the Circassians are about preventing the Olympics from
taking place in Sochi and equally just how important the Vancouver
Games and the approach of the Canadian authorities there are energizing
the Circassian community.
In an essay entitled "Vancouver versus
Sochi” datelined Moscow-Baksan, Aslan-Bek says that Circassians around
the world were struck less by the demonstration their co-ethnics staged
than by the way in which the Canadian organizers of the Vancouver Games
have behaved (www.elot.ru/main/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1648&Itemid=1).
"The ideological foundation of the
Olympics [in Vancouver],” he points out, "has been 100 percent
connected to what is almost a cult of the indigenous peoples of Canada
who are called the ‘first nations.’” Their representatives opened the
games and were given a place of honor in the stands.
Such respect for the original
population by the Canadian government should not have come as a shock,
Aslan-Bek says. In the early 1990s, "one highly-placed official of the
government of one of the Circassian subjects of the Russian Federation
visited Canada and on his return home shared his impressions.
He told Circassians in Russia that "in
comparison with Canada, with the rights its indigenous people have and
the level of concern by the government for them, we [in Russia] are
simply surviving as we can” rather than flourishing as are many of "the
first nations” of that North American country.
But at that time, Aslan-Bek continues,
Circassians didn’t want to believe him because they had had their views
about the indigenous peoples of North America shaped by "Soviet
agitprop” and believed that "Indians” were subject to such
discrimination that people like Leonard Peltier were completely
justified in their actions.
Now things have changed, he argues.
"After all this [in Vancouver] and the comparison with the approach of
the organizers of the Olympics in Sochi who are not prepared to
apologize for the genocide of the Circassians in the 19th century,” the
Circassians in the North Caucasus and around the world have a different
Moscow so far, he notes, has been
unwilling to acknowledge that it is the Circassian people who are the
first nation of Sochi. It has been deaf to the appeals of the
Circassian movement concerning the games. And it has been unwilling to
recognize the right of Circassians to return to their homeland.
As a result, Aslan-Bek concludes with
what is obvious bitterness, "the Olympics in Vancouver will be the
first in my life when I will hardly be cheering for the Russian team.
Not because,” he says,” I do not wish them a victory in sports but
because we [Circassians and Russians] are aliens in this holiday of
Source: Window on Eurasia