CHECHNYA: IN REMEMBRANCE OF GENOCIDE
March 26, 2006
Chechnya: In Remembrance of Genocide; World Chechnya Day
February 23, 2006 was the 62nd anniversary of one of the 20th century’s worst genocides. It marked the day the Soviet Union, under Josef Stalin, deported the entire Chechen nation to Central Asia, killing massive numbers of innocent civilians.
In the upheaval of Russia’s Bolshevik revolution, the communist forces had failed to completely quell the mountaineers’ resistance. After a vicious nine-month war, perhaps the fiercest local struggle in the Russian Civil War, the last Chechen rebel stronghold fell in May of 1921.
However, violence continued to flare up sporadically in Chechnya, prompted by the Soviet’s agricultural collectivization and repressive security polices, particularly with regard to religion. In the manner of their ancestors, Chechens would form small guerrilla groups and fight from the mountains.
After the German surrender in World War II, Stalin accused several of the Caucasian nations in their entirety of collusion with the Fascists. Against these nations he pronounced a sentence of “likvidatsia”: liquidation.
On February 23, 1944, tens of thousands of Soviet troops herded the entire Chechen nation onto trains. Chechnya, along with several other Caucasian republics, was emptied out. The plan was to erase the Chechens, their history, and their culture. References to them were stricken from the “Great Soviet Encyclopedia.”
Those who could not be transported, such as residents of remote mountain villages, or patients in hospital, were executed. In at least a couple of incidents, people were forced into barns or mosques that were then burned down with all inside.
Soviet figures put the number of Chechens and Ingush loaded on to the trains at 478,479. The “official” number dumped, freezing and starving into the Kazakh steppes were 400,478—suggesting 78,000 had died in transit, or shortly after arrival. That death toll is held by many to be conservative.
Sixty years later, the European Parliament recognized the mass deportation and exile of the Chechen and Ingush nations as an act of Soviet genocide.
The World Chechnya Day web site brings together an invaluable collection of personal accounts of the genocide, a historical account of the exile, and tracks events taking place around the world to mark the anniversary.
In remembrance of Russia’s past genocide of the Chechens, and its ongoing brutal occupation of Chechnya, IslamOnline.net presents this selection of articles from our coverage of the war-torn country.