Circassians look to Estonian politicians to draw attention to their fate
TALLINN, Oct 04, BNS - Representatives of Circassians, one of the indigenous peoples of North Caucasus, are seeking the help of Estonian politicians and members of the European Parliament elected from Estonia to protect their human rights and draw attention to their situation in view of the Olympic Games to be held in 2014 in Sochi, Russia, the main city of their historic homeland.
Representatives of the Circassian International Council last week handed in Tallinn to the Estonian parliament an appeal to lawmakers and met in Brussels with MEP Indrek Tarand and through him with members of the European Parliament's subcommittee on human rights.
"The Circassian people remain victim of a continued policy of genocide," the address to the Estonian lawmakers says. "The way the Russian authorities have so far conducted preparation for the Sochi Olympic Games in 2014, the fact that all this is happening right here, in the neighborhood and within the sight of the European Union, compels us to turn to you and through you to the Estonian public and that of whole Europe. This concerns not just the fate of the Circassian people but a political, social, humanitarian and ecological problem that affects all Europe."
According to representatives of the Circassians, the human rights situation in the North Caucasus has sharply deteriorated in the last few years and persecution of journalists "has attained tragic proportions." Furthermore, the Russian authorities ignore environmental norms in the construction of Olympic structures which affects the traditional living environment of indigenous peoples.
"Circassians throughout the world, working in cooperation with compatriots in their homeland, do not intend to put up with such a situation and wish to draw international attention to it," the document reads. "The emerged situation requires that civilized countries form a timely, clear and above-party stance basing on European criteria. The reputation of Estonia as a successful reformer and the reputation, credibility and value-based politics of Estonia as member of the European Union and NATO allow to hope that this appeal will win comprehensive attention in Estonian institutions, civil society and public, and provide the necessary impulse for intervening in the emerged situation and engaging friends and partners across the world in solving it."
The Circassians, historically settled mainly in northern Caucasus, are now scattered also in Turkey, Syria, Jordan and many other countries of the world. Their main settlement areas in the Caucasus are the Russian Federation's autonomous republics of Karachay-Cherkess and Kabardino-Balkar. The Circassians regard Sochi, Maikop and Nalchik as their historical cities. Most Circassians were expelled from their historical homeland in the 19th century when Russia succeeded in subjugating most North Caucasus peoples and conquering the region.
Today around five million people consider themselves Circassian or their descendants and many of them live in exile. Turkey and Jordan have the largest Circassian communities.
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