Circassia, the Motherland - Where To?
By Adel Bashqawi
"Embracing Circassia, Building our Future” Conference at:
William Paterson University, NJ, USA.
13, April, 2008.
The fact that Circassia is an integral part of the nations and peoples of the North Caucasus made it the focus of the colonial and expansionist ambitions through the epochs, and as the Circassians considered owners of civilization of not less than five thousand years, they were able to stabilize on their soil and in their homeland and preserve their civilization and culture which made them a nation that is able to survive despite all obstacles and conditions, which resulted from the greed, invasion and occupation over the centuries and resulted in the adjustment of Circassians with all the difficult circumstances, were able to maintain their national and cultural identity, whether in Motherland or in Diaspora where Circassians were deported to. In addressing the Circassian Question with all its details, it is important to understand the conditions and the various factors that have influenced and continued on Circassia, the homeland and the nation.
From Tragedies of Russian/Caucasian (Circassian) Wars
It has been more than 140 years since the end of the Russian/Caucasian (Circassian) War against the nations of the North Caucasus, and the war of genocide and forced deportation, which led to the forced exile outside the homeland, which encompasses 52 countries in the world of today, according to the most recent study that is announced lately. The Circassian Question still pending unsolved and there is no solution in sight for the aftereffects of the tragic consequences of such human tragedy affecting Circassians, which resulted through successive wars waged by Tsarist Russia for more than 450 years against the nations of the North Caucasus, including the Circassian Nation, by adopting all ways and means so that the last one lasted for 101 years; as the war included deceit, prevarication, siege, starvation, torture, slaughter, destruction, genocide and emptying the territory of its inhabitants, the original owners in order to change the population and demographical composition in order to enable nibbling and swallowing land, rights and properties.
The Russian State failed to take the initiative to solve any of those disastrous results despite the fact that no statute of limitations for the genocide crime, in particular does not end or disappear over time elapse, according to international law, and the government of the aggressor’s state or any succeeding government or entity created, are obliged to bear the consequences of the acts referred to, if proven categorically and without any doubt; genocide means any acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group as such and killing members of the group or causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part, imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group, or forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. Are any of those disgraceful acts in question were not committed against our forefathers?
Demands should be pressed for Genocide recognition by the Russians and an apology, compensation, the right to return to homeland and self-determination should be respected.
The former Russian President Boris Yeltsin had dispatched a shy apology to the peoples of the North Caucasus after the passage of 130 years since the end of the Russian/Caucasian (Circassian) War according to what was extracted from page 10 of the "Circassians at the Dawn of History" book that was published in 1995, for the author, Berzeg Samkogh, which Yeltsin said in his message:
"The past events bring us back to more than one century, to the years of struggle for the Caucasus and the conflict between the interests of the Russian Empire, Britain, France, Iran, and Turkey, which all bear their shares of moral responsibility to the suffering of the Mountainous peoples(the Circassians).
Fellow Citizens, the results of the Caucasian / Russian war, which had caused many human victims and material losses, are still until now causing pain in the hearts of many Russians. Let the soil be the sacrifice for those who fell on the battlefield and lost their lives by the harshness of war, and those who left their homeland and died in alienation while suffering the bitterness of the loss of homeland. Let the memory of the sad events be kept in the hearts of the grandchildren to serve us all, and move us away from new tragedies.
The Caucasian / Russian war had been evaluated in different forms according to the political orientations of the different historical periods, and Russia today has adopted a juristic recognizing each is precious to mankind, and show the possibility to bring about a new objective look for the events of the Caucasian war as a heroic fight, that the nations of the North Caucasus had taken, not only to preserve the land, but also to preserve the national culture, that contains the best benefits of the national character.
The problems that we received as a result of the Caucasian war and in particular the problem of the return of the descendants of the immigrants, to the historic homeland must be resolved on the international level through negotiations with the participation of all interested parties.
My dear citizens,
In our awareness, the Caucasus and Russia are strongly interrelated concepts and no one can imagine one without the other, and I am certain that the spread of building the democratic state and the agreement & harmony between the peoples will ensure the best dreams of the welfare and prosperity of the peoples inhabiting our country.”
Circassian Activities to Re-Claim Rights
Some Circassians have shown dynamic activities among them is Mr. Murad Berzegov, the President of "Circassian Congress”, who is a resident of the Republic of Adygea for demanding Circassian rights regardless of the multiple threats that he is subjected to, as in previous years he kept calling for restoring rights whether for those who reside in Motherland or in Diaspora, he said in the month of May of the year 2007 in an interview with "Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty" by quoting interpretation of "Radio Adiga”, the "Circassian radio” the following:
Berzeg Murat: The Adigs (Circassians) had not an organization to raise the main question of Adigas, to start and to work with it; we could not manage such organization so far.
Therefore, we had to create the "Circassian Congress". What happened to Adigas was only discussed till now but was not written in juristic language. Hence,
The "Circassian Congress" collected and prepared many doubtless papers from archives according to laws and measures of the current world that should be attached not adding anything from what Adygas said, but only written in juristic language papers of crimes made by Russian generals and officers, the document named "Genocide" was sent to the "Russian State Duma".
The reply paper (the Duma's) has no sense, they said "no!", but you can't understand that "no”! Nevertheless it satisfied us because we knew that Russia will not recognize it. But then when Russia says "no”! we had the option to enter Europe to communicate with the world by addressing the UN (United Nations Organization), then when we received the "no”!, we sent a document to the European Parliament describing what happened to the Adygas and our situation today also according to the worldly laws it is Genocide, thus we addressed the democratic states and nations of Europe and sent to the European Parliament to recognize what happened to the Adygas/Circassians as a Genocide and to tell Russia to recognize the Genocide. Now we wait their answer and to the one who will put it in the court in the European Parliament, it has to be mentioned that some other countries started to view and to state their worries in this matter.
Now, what has to be said is, when you ask if our situation is good today? The meaningless "on paper" given republics, whether they are good or not, if we are satisfied with it or we will stop here? No! Most of our nation is still in exile. Those people who say things like: "It's OK now, we stop here, don't let us say anymore...” are people, who lack intellect, if you don't agree with that, then there are people with intellect who were given money not to allow to raise this question and to mislead other Adigas.
Surely, as far as the nation is not being one, as far as the Adogas all around the world do not return, as far as the lands we had were not being returned, you can't say that Genocide did not took place, the Genocide is still going on until the nation is being united, that is the opinion, and the conduct of "Circassian Congress", that is what we deal with, that is our way which we go through and we will continue going through."
Mufti of Adygea is Against Repatriates' Participation in Religious Activity
Out of misfortune, Mufti of Adygea declares in April 15, 2007 that "Adyga-repatriates should not be religion staff in Adygea and take post if imams, Nurbij Emizh, Mufti of Adygea and Krasnodar Territory, told the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent. In his words, "they are of different mentality”.
"This statement (...) contradicts both the Russian legislation and the norms of Islam and universal norms”, Ramadan Tsey, one of repatriates with higher religious education who has tensions with Emizh, said in his interview with the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent. One of the commentators described the statement as "wasn’t a message for Imam or Mufti, but a proclamation of a politician”.
Under the Russian law, the Adigas who live abroad have the right to return to their historical homeland and get engaged in any legitimate activity. If a repatriate has a religious education, where else can he find employment outside the religious sphere? However, Mr. Emizh wouldn't agree to this. Why? Because whoever of repatriates who becomes a religion servant, he will know about religion more than Emizh. He will look weak against people with religious education."
Russian Traditional Policies
A Senior Research Fellow of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences and PhD in History, Mikhail Roshin said in his exclusive interview with "Caucasus Times" which was published in 10, March, 2006 had stated that "Rise of extremism in Southern Russia stems from the fact that the North Caucasus proved to be inside the sphere of globalization of Muslim fundamentalism”!
One of the websites responded long on the deliberate Russian misinformation, where it is stated here are some of them: "The nations of the North Caucasus and all other peoples and regions colonized by Russia not all Muslims, and the fact is that the North Caucasus region was occupied militarily through a series of military incursions and military colonial wars by the Russian Empire State, which was outside the scope and core of the entire interview. Playing with words and statements by describing what went on and still as a wide globalization of Islamic fundamentalism is totally out of the question, and is completely false information which was intended to be used to deceive and mislead whoever is reading or listening to such nonsense, which indicates that assuming ignorance of others was the main theme of deliberate deception”.
The nations of the North Caucasus had never willingly accepted and will never recognize, admit or approve the "one way communication” attitude of the Russian imperial philosophy and criteria of being the rulers of a multi-nations of slaves which is similar to the apartheid regime, that should obey and accept what comes of orders and arrangements. History cannot be written by those who are dictated by tyrant imperialists.
Playing, changing, and transforming the names and descriptions of events of certain situations by riding the boat of what is called "terrorism” and "Islam phobia” will not change the fact that the criminal imperialists are taking such positions to suit their need and greed!
Is there anything to do with Islam concerning the hidden and public colonial ambitions that are going on between Georgia and so-called Federal Russia in the Caucasus, or the boiling, but undeclared war that is going on between the Ukraine, and the remaining of the Russian imperial greed in the Black Sea and the Crimea coastal territories?
What applied to those nations who were colonized by the Russian Soviet Union in what was supposed to be self-determination and independence should apply to all other nations that are still occupied, slaved and colonized by what remained of imperial Russian desire of controlling the others through waging war and forceful occupation.
In another instance, news agencies and websites published news about the Caucasus pilgrims who have been cut off recently on their way back home after they performed the Hajj religious duty, and one of them published: " To be more meaningful and consequential the evil intentions were again on the imperial theater, when thousands of North Caucasian pilgrims were stranded in Turkey, and particularly in the port city of Trabzon, for a very silly reason, which is the closure of the port city of the Circassian port of Sochi due to the suspension of navigation to Sochi, where public officers at the port were on their Christmas holidays! Again, the Russian occupying authorities are mixing the religious events of Christians’ Christmas and Muslims’ Pilgrimage to Makka with each other to create problems that would be understood by the nations of the West as if it is religious troubles which automatically make the Christians in the West support the poor guys who only went for the Christmas holidays! What an evil attitude and concept, which intend to make nations of the world forget or oversee that Russia is occupying the homeland of those pilgrims who had the chance of one life time visit to do one of their required worships, while an international sea port is completely closing in the faces of the real owners of the land, which was invaded and occupied!
That means that we are dealing with the Russian Phenomenon.
An article was published in "Radio Adiga / The Circassian Radio", in the month of January this year, and was translated by "Justice For North Caucasus Group", in regard to the famous Russian historian, Yakov Gordon, can be read in the following:
In October 2007, an article regarding the Caucasus nations under the name of "Circassia, Caucasus Atlantis" for the famous historian in Russia, Yakov Gordon, was published in Saint Petersburg in the journal named "Star". RFE/RL Circassian service reported from Maykop about the feedback of the Adygea-based Circassian Congress to the article.
According to the report, Yakov Gordon was in Maykop and he had interview with the Circassian Congress which was published in his article without truncations and he also explained in it what the beginning of the story was. For instance, the historian wrote that the current events of Caucasus are interesting him.
The leader of the Circassian Congress said that the visit of Gordon have great importance, because, unfortunately, most of the historians represent the Russo-Caucasus war as a legend and often with falsifications. Moreover he asserts that the current events of Caucasus are presented to viewers in the same compose where monuments are erected for generals who massacred our nation in the Circassian land, for example, ZATS who used to collect Circassian skulls.
The deputy leader of Circassian Congress, Dzeukhozh Zaur, expressed his point of view about the article and said that – "In some part we should not be so glad of what Yakov Gordon argues about, but we liked the other part which recognized the Circassian Genocide and which was related that Russia should recognize it. We consider that it is a very big plus for the Circassian nation. "– Said Zaur and continued that – " What was argued following that, is about the compensations, circumstances and the essay of comparison to the Indians, which for them it was not genocide. In spite of that, we have faced genocide and it is corresponding with the international law which compels returning of compensations and you cannot just recognize it and go forth". – Zaur concluded his speech by saying that – "Yakov Gordon is a dominant historian in Russia and for that in my opinion the occurrence is positive and marked with a plus".
Recently, as a feedback to the article in Russian language, Circassian Congress published an article named "Ya Ne Vash Tolko" interpreted in English as "I'm Not Only Yours" which tells that the recognition of the Circassian Genocide is a step forward.
In the article questions are raised concerning the compensations of genocide and that it is not depended on the period which it takes place. The Armenian genocide which Turkey refuses to recognize and not only their reconstruction by land and materials but it is an international law for every nation, etc.
Yakov Gordon asked that: "For Circassians, who are living in different countries it, is not an easy step to return, if they would want so how many?" Circassian Congress answered: "If the mechanism for the return will be ready, we will start the counting".
Gordon claims that: "Russia for now is not ready to finance the Circassian returnees." Circassian Congress answered that: "Russia expends twelve billion dollars for the Olympic Games"!
The historian emphasizes that the misleading representation of a nation damages its reputation. And the example of that are the so-called "voluntary unifications". The historian further writes that the justice in history is the road to peace and justice in the North Caucasus.
The Circassian Congress agreed with that, also emphasized that the Russo-Caucasus war is documented by thousands of documents and that the justice in history is connected with the Circassian nation's renaissance.
Declaration of Circassian Independence
Some known circles persisted to spread malicious lies about Circassia the Motherland and the nation, which tried and still to broadcast news of a suspicious objectives including that Circassians never had political entity at all, and they never thought of that before, while forgetting and pretending to forget that the Circassian tribes were able to coordinate with one another to repel invaders attacks across their long history, and there were national, cultural and joint defense ties, so they managed to repel the enemies for hundreds of years until the Russian Tsarist tyrants became able to mobilize hundreds of thousands of mercenaries and they committed their largest massacre of perpetrating genocide in the nineteenth century and that of reliable historians’ estimate, which resulted in the Circassian tragedy without delving details in this area. Although it must show what Circassian leaders had agreed as the European newspapers published in the year 1835 about their "Declaration of independence” of Circassia during that year, as stated in the documents that have been obtained from the Russian archives: "V.M. Atalikova Publications, See: Living antiquities. 1992. № 2. Pp 20-23”, and has been recently translated into several languages, which the in following there are some parts of the translated script:
"The Caucasians are not Russian subjects and are not even in peace with Russia, but for many years now are embroiled in war with it, going through this war without any assistance. They never received any assistance or support from any government. While the Sultan, as the spiritual head of the Muslims, exercises his rule in these areas, the residents of the Black Sea Coast, whom are professing that belief, were left to protect themselves on their own, and recently the Ports betrayed them repeatedly and left them without any assistance. One Pasha opened the gates of Anapa in return for the Muscovites gold (Russians gold) he received, telling the Circassians that the Russians came as friends to support the Sultan against the rebellion of Armenian Leaders. Another Pasha again betrayed them and abandoned them all at a sudden.”
"Since then, the Circassians repeatedly sent their deputies to the Sultan, expressing their loyalty and asking for assistance, but they were greeted bluntly. With the same manner they turned to Persia, and finally to Mohamed Ali, who accepted their loyalty, but refused to help.”
"Our mountains have been the stronghold of Persia and Turkey, and without them it can be an accessible gateway to both countries, for those mountains is not only a cover for them, they represent a door to the home, which only by closing it the heart is protected.”
"But, in fact, Circassian blood flows in the Sultan’s veins. His mother is a Circassian, his Harem consist of Circassian women; also his Ministers and Generals. He’s the Leader of our faith, as well as our people, he captures our hearts, and we offer him our total commitment and loyalty. We are asking, in the name of all those connections and relations, for his sympathy and support, and if he refuses or he is unable to protect our children and citizens, let them consider the grandchildren of the Crimean khans that are living among us.”
”Those were the words of our deputies that they were entrusted to say but were not heard. This wouldn’t have happened if the Sultan knew how many hearts and swords he could have lead, if he only ended his friendship with the Muscovites.
We know that Russia is not the only state in the world, we know that there are greater states than Russia, and in spite their great power, they are build with goodwill, they educate the ignorant and protect the weak, and they do not enjoy friendly relations with Russia, but rather feuding with it, while they are not enemies to the Sultan but actual friends.”
"And later on, we learned – while feeling enormously insulted- that on European maps, our country is marked as a part of Russia, and treaties that we know nothing about were signed by Russia and Turkey, wants to convey those warriors - of which Russia tumbles -and the mountains– which the Russians never set foot in -and Russia tells the West that the Circassians are its slaves; barbaric wild bandits whom cannot be shown leniency, and no law can curb them.”
We solemnly express our protest in front of God against such tricks and deceptions; we answer word for word, the word of truth against mendacity. For the past 40 years we resisted their attacks victoriously with weapons in hands. the blood we shed was the ink that marked our independence and made it legitimate, enclosing signatures of people who do not know anything higher or more important than their country's decision, people who do not understand the subtle arguments, but know and will use their weapons when the Russians come holding their own weapons against them.
What kind of force can expel us from here? Our loyalty is offered to the Sultan, but if he stays at peace with Russia then he cannot accept it while Circassia is at war with Russia. Our loyalty is a voluntary; he cannot sell since it was never bought.
Let the great nation such as England, which our eyes and hands turned to, not think about us at all, if we are unjust or not. Let it refuse any hearsay from cunning Russians before it refuses to hear the cries of Circassian. Let them judge those people for themselves, whom are called "wild and barbaric”, from their actions not from Fabrications.
We are 4,000,000 people, but unfortunately, we are divided into many tribes, languages and faiths, we have different customs, traditions, interests, alliances and divisions. We also never shared the same goal, but we had a semblance of government and custom subordinated commands. The leader elected by each tribe during war, has all the powers, and our senior princes manage each area according to their own customs, with a great authority that you cannot even see in any great neighboring country, but since we do not have one leader, we chose a foreign leader that controls the whole Eastern area. So we voluntarily accept the domination of the Crimean khans, then the Sultan of Constantinople, being our spiritual Leader.
When Russia seized part of our land and won top everywhere, it tried to lower our rank into slaves, recruiting us in its army and making us shed our sweat and blood for their own enrichment. Forced to fight on Russia’s behalf and enslave more people for it even our compatriots and fellow believers. Therefore, hatred grew among us, and bloodshed will not cease, otherwise we would have been subjected by the Muscovite leader long time ago.
It would have been a sad and long story to be told, full of brutality and violations of oaths and promises, how Russia surrounded our country from all sides, cutting us from the necessary means of life, as it interrupted our trade and relinquished the last remnants of our homes to their hired assassins and left us without a Leader to follow. How it destroyed entire tribes and villages, and how it bribed the Turkish treacherous agents, and led us to poverty and drove us to hatred and irritation with the world; due to the horrors of which it permitted, while inflicting shame upon us with lies in the eyes of the Christian nations of Europe.
We lost whole tribes, which used to collect hundreds of thousands of soldiers under their banners, but we were all finally united, as one, in the hatred of Russia. 200,000 people from our people only are subordinated to it in this long struggle; and of the remaining none serve Russia voluntarily.
Many children were abducted, and many children of the nobles were taken hostages, but at the first opportunity they fled back to their country. Among us there are people who enjoy the grace and respect of the emperor, but who chose this benefit imperiled their mother country.
Among us there are thousands of Russians who preferred our "barbarity” over their country’s "civilization”. Russia built a fortress on our land, but they do not provide security beyond the reach of their artilleries; 50,000 Russians recently invaded us, and they were defeated.
Only by weapon, but not by words, this country can be seized. If Russia conquers us, it would not be with weapons, but by the suppression of our communications and the use of Turkey and Persia as if they already belonged to it. It would be due to its siege for our coasts and destroying not only our ships but also the friendly ships that anchor in our coast, preventing us from buying salt and gunpowder plus other necessary martial products, not to mention confiscating our hope.
In spite of all that, we are independent and we are fighting and winning. The Emperor Representative, who presents us to Europe as his slaves, and who notes on our country’s map as his own, recently started negotiations with the Circassians, not to stop our resistance, but to trade 20,000 people that we have captured, and arrange a prisoner's exchange. "
Those who are interested in Circassian affairs must take into consideration the circumstances and the general situation that are influential on the Circassian and Caucasian surroundings to create the conditions to enable Circassian communities that are extended Motherland to different parts of the world for communication and connection among themselves to bridge the gaps and building trust and friendship so as to provide an opportunity for all to work and contribute to the well-being of the Circassian nation, and that can be achieved through abandoning intolerance, personalization and selfishness, then to use available modern means to all, specifically the World Wide Web (Internet), and must also work to establish a Circassian National Fund administered by the experts as well as independent Circassian Media such as establishing a modern network, such as a news agency, with satellite television station and another one for radio. Actions speak louder than words, if intentions were good, outcome will be as good, and God helps them who help themselves.