Hidden Nations, Enduring Crimes: The North Caucasus between Past and Future. Second International Conference. 21/11/2010 Day 2.
Panel 3: The 2014 Sochi Olympics: Russia, Turkey and the Circassians.
The moderator of the last panel of the conference was Mr. Ghia Nodia, the director of the international School for Caucasus studies.
The panel started with a presentation of Ruslan Keshev, Adega khasa of Kabardino. First, Ruslan talked about the ridiculous theories that claim the Circassians left their homeland voluntarily and that all should reject them. Ruslan explained that after the year 1864 it is estimated there were only about 5% of the people of the Circassians left in their homeland and in time, that small minority was divided into four different autonomous when two of them shared it with other nations and one another (Spsugy) was dissolved in a neighboring Russian province. Also, now there is a further division into two federal regions (North and South).
With the diaspora’s support Circassians ask the recognition of the genocide of the Circassian, in order to recognize the genocide it is needed to prove one of the three following sections: 1. Mass murder of the population. 2. Worsening living conditions and existence. 3. Expulsion / deportation.
Later in his presentation, Ruslan showed that the Circassians were genocide by all sections, using documents that describe the destruction and burning of entire villages, massacre of innocent civilians and starvation of entire populations, parts of which have died and others were expelled. Today the reality is that the number of Circassians in the Diaspora is 10 times the population of the Circassians that remained in the Caucasus.
Two aspects were put in the context of the Olympics in Sochi: 1. The year in which the Olympics will take place is 2014, exactly 150 years to mark the genocide, deportationand where the place that Russian victory was declared Krasnaya Pollyanna is a burial place of the victims even though that is not the only place where genocide was carried out. 2. How any sane mind can accept the existence of Olympic Games in a country that is preventing the original residents from returning to their homeland, it's contrary to the spirit of the Olympics. The Circassians are demanding the right to return to their homeland.
Finally he stressed that contrary to certain claims that Circassians never lived in Krasnaya Pollyanna, the truth is that it was part of The Historic Circassia and the original inhabitants were the Ubyh.
Valery Dzutsev, an analyst The Jamestown Foundation, referred to the economic aspect of the Olympics. Facilities construction costs is rising steadily and according to official publications will reach $ 30 billion it is 7 times more than the last Winter Olympics held in Vancouver, Canada. The Population of Sochi is only 400 thousand inhabitants so all facilities will remain empty after the game are over, which is a huge waste. In addition, this region has the warmest climate in the territory of Russia and all who knows the Russian climate were surprised of choosing this location. Due to the relatively warm climate of this region artificial aids are required to enable the creation of snow, which is outrageous and ridiculous with regard to the climate in other parts of Russia. Contrary to popular belief, that the construction of the facilities will solve the unemployment problem in the area, it didn’t happen and the proposed plan for the locals to solve unemployment is working in distant provinces. These things have caused resentment among the people of the Caucasus and therefore it was announced that a big investment (construction of ski resorts) is planned in the Caucasus (Adygea, Dagestan, Ingushetia and Ossetia) totaling 15 billion. Of course this is a big bluff because for the financing of the project became Western banks face the same time left a message Western organizations involved (who refused to request funding) of the Caucasus ethnic agitation. This contrast shows he never had the intention to implement this investment and is only intended to calm the region in light of the big investment Olympic facilities.
Mitat Celikpala, Kadir Has University - Istanbul, lectured on Turkish policy regarding the North Caucasus, saying that Turkey is bonded to this issue because of the large community in Turkey and that this community still feels belong to the Caucasus. However, the solution to the problems in the North Caucasus is quite far away Turkey's foreign policy even though not officially they do support. Due to changes in Turkey's approach to the subject since 2008, more activities concerning the North Caucasus are being seen but, in view of the Armenian problem, I do not see at the moment Turkey accepting the genocide.
Mr. Iyad Youghar and Tamara Barsik, Circassian International Council, presented about the Circassian resistance to the Olympic Games in Sochi 2014. Mr. Youghar said that when Circassians began to organize against holding the games in Sochi Russians asked "Why now?" The answer is a quote from the words of Martin Luther King - "because we cannot wait any longer." The Circassians are the original inhabitants of the area and built their own culture there for many generations. As a leading line of this culture is Adige Khabza which is based on respect for others. There was a war that lasted about a century and the Russians massacred Circassians and more than 90% of them were expelled when the slogan The Russian used was - "Circassia without Circassian" and it still continues to this day. Sochi is a symbolic place where we consider as the place that genocide took place and in -2014 in will mark 150 years to the genocide and it is not possible the games to be conducted on the land of mass murder. Even today, living in Diaspora, communities continue to suffer from an act of genocide while losing their culture. UN Declaration in June 2009 states that countries will work to restore their original inhabitants using all resources possible, whether it's the return of land or other means available. Russia's goals in addition to the economic aspect are: 1. To establish its control over the Caucasus. 2. Erasing all traces of the Circassians. So we have the world to know about the crimes that have happened and continue to happen.
Tamara Barsik explained that in homeland, we lose our rights and Circassians suffered violent attacks and those who live in the Diaspora do not have the option of returning to the homeland. By attending the Olympic Games the world is actually celebrating the death of the Circassian nation. • In 2007, Putin in his only face to the world in English, thanked the committee for the selection of Sochi. Putin said that previously local residents were Greeks without any reference to Circassians and noted that the cost of holding the games is about $ 12 billion when the actual cost, because of corruption, is about $ 30 billion. • The same year the organizations asked the Committee to make inquiry and the Committee replied that they will indeed. After several months without any answer and ignoring the additional pleas was the first demonstration against the Olympics carried out. • In 2009 the resistance was already coordinated worldwide. In 2010, During the Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada, associations and Circassian Association held demonstrations against the games. Then the media (Reuters, CNN, The Times and others) began to show interest. • Non Circassians organizations join the resistance and Greenpeace even applied to the court. • In March a conference was held in Tbilisi, an application was filed to the Georgian Parliament asking to recognized the genocide of the Circassian and declare that the -21.5 is the Genocide Memorial Day and Sochi is the place that symbolizes that. • After three years the Commission's reply came stating that it requires Circassian culture shown as part of the Olympics. When a request to participate in the cultural section of the Olympics (as from 70 other nations) arrived the Circassian associations were offended. • In April, the BBC showed pictures of construction (in a poor level) which affects the nature reserve, especially the work carried out on the road leading to Sochi. • 05/21/2010 the worldwide quantity of protests grew significantly. In Istanbul, over a thousand protesters took part in the demonstration and in Israel, Berlin, Munich, Vienna and the United States demonstrations were held too. • Circassians delegation goes Estonia and starts similar process that began with Georgia.
Janves Didem Varahram, Circassian Institute of Munich in Germany talked about the life of Circassian minority in Germany and said that there are only estimates on the number of Circassians in Germany because they are a minority owner of German citizenship. She also showed the difficulties of Circassian minority Germany in preserving their culture. Since many Circassian of Germany origins in Turkey, Janves shared their difficulties too.
After ending the last panel of the conference, starting point totals in which Ghia Nodia said that this conference is a great success and thanked all participants for their thoughts and feelings shared with us.
Glenn Howard, The Jamestown Foundation, thanked all those present and said that he appreciates their cooperation. The conference created new friendships between groups from the Caucasus. Howard said that the conference will continue to expand and that all hope that the next conference will be even broader. Howard continued his word and said that although the problems in the Caucasus are not yet solved we now have more understanding and information about the subject.
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