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Adel Bashqawi
The Question of the Circassian Genocide
25 Mart 2015 Çarşamba Saat 00:38

The Question of the Circassian Genocide

 When remembering or reminding of the Circassian Genocide, it means that the attention should be drawn to the past, in order to derive lessons from the experiences and can be used to find out the realities and facts of the events that have radically affected the entire nation, and as a result of internecine war came to everything and everybody that affected the demographic situation of the country.

 Circassians manage their identity and survival subjects at the present, worrying about their future and expecting what is yet to happen. Recalling their past with all its glorious and painful details requires the necessity to follow-up effects that show how to find a solution to the issues related to the crimes and atrocities together with identifying the perpetrators and selecting the proper mechanism of applying the relevant rules for the realization of their legal rights.

 Nevertheless, regardless of the well-known facts and figures of occupation, genocide and deportation, still there are some individuals who are ignorant of history, frustraters, defeatists, opportunists, and contribute to be part of the hectic propaganda war against the Circassian people and its inalienable rights. What do they mean when they say: Why bother with the past?

 A preview of the book entitled “Massacre in History”, edited by Mark Levene & Penny Roberts, which is published as a soft copy on Google, mentions particular massacres that occurred in the world since the 11th century, with Chapter 7 of the book contains, “The Circassians: A Forgotten Genocide?” by Stephen D. Shenfield, which illustrates details of the subject (https://books.google.jo/books?id=PjPCmnzztfkC&pg=PA149&lpg=PA149&dq=%E2%80%9CThe+Circassians:+A+Forgotten+Genocide?%E2%80%9D+by+Stephen+D.+Shenfield&source=bl&ots=_F0lAay5W-&sig=sHlfyAAG-JCp289pRcnEGaSQK3E&hl=en&sa=X&ei=DDEQVcbOIszeavq6geAH&ved=0CC4Q6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=%E2%80%9CThe%20Circassians%3A%20A%20Forgotten%20Genocide%3F%E2%80%9D%20by%20Stephen%20D.%20Shenfield&f=false).

 The valuable and rich data mentioned, provide a wealth of information in relatively few pages about the Circassian nation. In the following, few points are selected, while reading the whole text is highly recommended:

 — The author starts with the usual question: Who are (or were) the Circassians? He writes, that there are only few people and experts of the Caucasus who know the Circassians in the “Western world”, as he is usually asked who they are whenever he mentions the Circassians.

 — It is mentioned that there is almost a forgotten people and their country {Circassia} located in the North Caucasus is “not found on any contemporary map” marked  the “southern boundary of the Russian empire”, even though it was mentioned and depicted in the old books and on the early nineteenth century maps showing location and boundaries.

 — You can read about Circassia and Circassians in the “old books of French consul Gamba (1826), the English adventurer James Bell (1841), the French couple de Hell (1847), the American George Leighton Ditson (1850), and the Dutch consul de Marigny”.

 — Even in the eighteenth century, Circassia was mentioned on the map, which shows Circassia extended between the Kuban and the Don Rivers all the way to the borders of Ossetia and Chechnya up to the main Caucasus Mountain range and along the Black Sea coast from the azimuths of the Sea of Azov tp Abkhazia, which shows that before the Tsarist conquest, it occupied an area of 55,663 square kilometers — rather greater than the area of Denmark — and possessed an indigenous population in excess of two million.

 — Talking about the originality of Circassians, the author states that “they can be traced as far as the Bosphoran Kingdom of the eighth century BC, and possibly to the Cimmerian Empire that existed along the shores of the Azov Sea before 1500 BC”.

 — Circassian trade and cultural ties been established with the ancient Greeks especially with the “Athenians and they participated in the Olympic Games”.

 — They were mostly agricultural people, and their gods matched with Greeks’ gods, where the author has mentioned their matching gods and their names.

 — Islam influence apparently started in the 18th century under the threat of “impending Russian invasion”, and they formed a defensive alliance with “Ottoman Turkey and the Crimean Tatar Khanate”.

 — It is affirmed that Circassians “fought against Russian conquest from 1763-1864 - longer than any other people of the Caucasus, even the Chechens”.

 — Emphasized the fact unlike the Russian allegations that the “final defeat in the 1860’s led to massacre and forced deportation, mainly across the Black Sea to Turkey” (90 % of the Circassian nation), and stated that “a large proportion of them perished” due to the horrors of the sea and other effects, which were replaced by colonialists such as Cossacks, Russians and Armenians.

— Under the subtitle of “Massacre and Deportation”, the book referred to General Yevdokimov, who was delegated to implement the Russian Empire’s policy of displacement whether to other areas beyond the Kuban or to the Ottoman Empire, even pointing out that Circassians had appealed to major powers at the time, but no one bothered to help Circassians to stay in their homeland. Also a delegation of Circassian chiefs met in 1861 with Tsar Alexander II in the town of Yekaterinodar, who “expressed readiness to recognize Russian Suzerainty provided that Russian troops and Cossacks were removed from the Circassian lands beyond the Rivers of Kuban and Laba”. The Russians did not agree to that, because it is against their plans of capturing Circassia without Circassians.

— The well known facts and results of the Russian invasion are mentioned, such as the systematical burning of Circassian villages, “all the villages of Shapsegh without exception were burned down” and Circassian crops in the fields were trampled with Cossacks’ horses.

— Another subtitle: “Was It Genocide?”, elaborates on questioning whether a genocide and ethnic cleansing were committed or not. The author compared what happened with the Circassians with other crimes and invasions committed at the time by the Russian Empire with other peoples and nations.

— The author explained that “the Russian officials and generals were not averse to the idea of exterminating a large potation of the Circassians.  General Fedeyev also arrested to this when he wrote that Russians decided to exterminate half of the Circassian people in order to compel the other half to lay down their arms”.

— The last subtitle is: “The End of the Circassians?”, as the text at its last part mentioned, “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. The impact of the deportations on the different Circassian sub-groups varied widely”.

— The author concluded in the last paragraph:

“If the fate of the Armenians in Turkey and the Jews of Europe is still widely remembered today, is that not largely thanks to the status and influence enjoyed by many of the Armenian and Jewish communities fortunate enough to survive elsewhere? The contrary case of the Circassians brings home to us how easily a genocide of a people can, under less favorable circumstances, still fade out of our historical consciousness.”

— A list of notes (22) at the end contain references in addition to verification and explanation of information.

At a time when the exact description of the meaning of genocide reflects the fact of denial,  the wordplay together with illogical explanations and sometimes excuses, lead to confusion and uncertainty.

Logic, ethics and human duty require the use of exact statement describing the meaning of genocide with what  it would reflect of facts on the ground, regardless of wordplay together with flimsy excuses and illogical explanations, in contradiction with genocide definition, which includes acts committed for the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group (http://www.preventgenocide.org/law/convention/text.htm), as there are documents and other proofs.

The more the facts and realities are known to all concerned, the more positive and assertive acts can be performed, in accordance with International Law and The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. For those who have perished and those who are still living, we ought to protect the evidence and present it to the world.

The author explained that “the Russian officials and generals were not averse to the idea of exterminating a large potation of the Circassians.  General Fedeyev also arrested to this when he wrote that Russians decided to exterminate half of the Circassian people in order to compel the other half to lay down their arms”.

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