The Save Chechnya Campaign (SCC) UK proposes to commemorate the Stalin-era genocide of the Chechen people as World Chechnya Day (WCD) on Thursday 23 February 2006. This momentous tragedy in the history of the Chechen people resulted in the deaths of about two thirds of the Chechen people.
Given the polarisation of views over the current Chechen conflict, the commemoration of this day is intended to serve as a means to bring Chechnya-related organisations and individuals around the world, as well as those concerned with promoting peace and tolerance between peoples, together by holding events on a single day. It is also hoped that it will provide a strong base from which to invite and introduce local establishments to the Chechen cause, and raise awareness of the long-running struggle against Russian imperialism, hegemony and oppression.
World Chechnya Day is being commemorated to recognise the suffering and genocide of the Chechen people as a human catastrophe of historic significance. It aims to respect all victims of Stalinist deportations in the 1940s and ’50s and raise awareness and understanding of the Chechen genocide, in particular as an issue of importance to humanity. Many of us would like to ensure that the horrendous crimes, racism and victimisation that were committed during the Chechen genocide will never be forgotten or repeated, to reflect on contemporary atrocities that raise similar issues, and to educate our children and grandchildren about the genocide and the continued relevance of the lessons that can be learnt from it. We hope World Chechnya Day will bring us together in our continuing commitment to oppose racism, victimisation and genocide and support shared aspirations for the ideals of justice, security, dignity and peace for all.
There are several reasons to commemorate such a day. World Chechnya Day will enable the effects of regional events undertaken around the world on a single day for the same cause to reinforce eachother. The media coverage will increase public awareness of Chechnya and the genocidal episodes its people have faced in their history. World Chechnya Day is set up in such a way that it provides a morally compelling and non-political basis from which to invite and introduce organisations, communities and opinion-shapers to the Chechen issue. It represents a focal point through which Chechen advocacy organisations and friends of the Chechen cause can strengthen links and contacts. Save Chechnya Campaign also hopes to activate people and groups with latent sympathy and concern for human rights in Chechnya.
World Chechnya Day is being commemorating in many ways in many different corners of the World. In London, there will be a commemoration at a memorial in South Kensington, London, for all victims from the Soviet Union and other Eastern European states who were imprisoned and died at the hands of communist governments after being repatriated at the conclusion of the second world war. In Britain, there will be commemorative events in Cambridge, Bristol, Bradford, Sussex and Edinburgh. Save Chechnya Camapign is urging individuals and organisations to participate in World Chechnya Day in even the smallest ways – wear a wristband, hold a stall, do a film-showing or give a talk. In all of these endeavours, Save Chechnya Campaign UK is offering support to all who need it. The website for World Chechnya Day is www.worldchechnyaday.org. It is designed to be a clearing-house for WCD events worldwide and, as more organisations around the world take part, this section of the website will become more and more active, insha'Allah.
The ideals of World Chechnya Day have certainly met with great enthusiasm among Chechen-friendly people. Individuals and organisations across Europe, in South Africa, India, Americahave contacted Save Chechnya Campaign to ask how they can get involved and what they can do locally. We can only hope and pray that, given the continued suffering of the Chechen people under Russian occupation, the day is met with as much enthusiasm on February 23 by Muslims elsewhere in the world, insha’Allah.