Patriots of Circassia ask the United Nations to consider the issue of the Circassian genocide

UN Secretary General

Mr. António M. Guterres

UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights

Karima Bennoune

Dear Authoritatives!

The Russian-Caucasian war (1763-1864) was one of the most tragic pages in the history of mankind. Circassia – the largest and the most prosperous country at that time in Caucasus, already having a special democratic way of life and developing a rich and distinctive culture, – ceased to exist. As one of reminders of the past there was, for example, a Cherkeska – men's military suit, which was adopted by many peoples of Caucasus, as well as Cossacks and tsarist officers. The last emperor of Russia Nicholas II wore a Cherkeska as a festive outfit. Adygs (Circassians), other highlanders of Caucasus, as well as Cossacks, are dressed in it so far. And this is just a small touch to what the culture of Adygs (Circassians) was.

According to official data of the Caucasian Archaeographic Commission, that worked in 1864-1886 under the chairmanship of Adolf Berger, from among more than 1 million Adygs (Circassians) over 400 thousand people died in the Russian-Caucasian war, 497 thousand were evicted, and about 80 thousand remained in their historical homeland. The ousting of the Circassian population out from Caucasus continued until the outbreak of the World War I, when there were only about 60 thousand people in their homeland.

At present, in Russian Federation Adygs (Circassians) compactly live in six regions: as titular, related, but still different peoples: in the Kabardino-Balkarian Republic, the Republic of Adygea, Karachay-Cherkessian Republic, and as a non-indigenous population in the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania, Stavropol and Krasnodar Regions. In none of these regions Adygs (Circassians) do have the status of the indigenous people, although in fact they have. According to the 2010 census of Russian Federation, in total 680,737 Adygs (Circassians) live in these territories. Outside of Russian Federation they are settled in more than 50 countries all over the world. Their compact settlements are situated in Turkey, Jordan, Syria, Israel, Iraq and Libya. According to approximate and possibly very underestimated data about Circassians in those countries, there are about 3 million people.

In the XX century Adygs (Circassians) – residents of the USSR – were first in four, and then in three national autonomies. Shapsug national district, which was located on the Black Sea coast (at the western end of historical Circassia) in 1945 was abolished.

The official historical science hushed up the question of the Russo-Caucasian War. The Soviet system was designed so that few people knew about the tragedy that had befallen the ancestors of Adygs (Circassians), and even if someone had such information, he should have been afraid to talk about it. Non-Russian Circassians, who lived in freer conditions, had neither the opportunity to see each other, nor otherwise share information with their compatriots in their historical homeland. The truth in its fuller scope became known in the post-Soviet era, when scientists of the national republics got access to the archives. It was then several books on the genocide of Adygs (Circassians) appeared. They were based on reports and records of tsarist generals and Cossack chieftains concerned the conquest of territories by means of complete elimination, including civilians, on the use of scorched land tactics, which deprived the remaining people means of subsistence, about how mass deportation of defenseless people was carried out already after the war. Everything was done according to the installation recorded in those documents from above: “We need the land of Circassians, and Circassians themselves are unnecessary for us.”

Today, according to the status in accordance with the Constitution of Russian Federation and republican constitutions Adygea, Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia (like other Russian republics) are states in the state. However, real state rights: to the subsoil, natural resources, to fair taxation, to have mechanisms for protection of national languages, their cultures, contain health care in the regions, etc. are missing. The regions are also deprived of rights to foreign policy relations, which are especially important for Circassians: Kabardino-Balkaria, Adygea and Karachay-Cherkessia cannot use the potential of their foreign diaspora – neither in terms of attracting investments, nor even in terms of compatriots’ repatriation. Only some managerial functions are left to the local authorities. But still, the right to direct elections of republics’ heads, heads of municipalities, and even rural settlements has been taken away from the population. The population also does not have the ability to resist elections fraud, regardless of their level.

The Supreme Council (parliament) of Kabardino-Balkaria adopted in 1992a resolution on the Circassian genocide committed by Russia, the State Council – Hase (parliament) of the Republic of Adygea – in 1996, that is, during the period of the greatest post-Soviet democratization of the country. Immediately after the adoption of those resolutions the both parliaments addressed the Supreme Council of Russian Federation (the State Duma of Russian Federation) with a request to recognize the genocide of the Circassians at the federal level. However, local deputies, as well as their voters, did not receive not only recognition of the genocide, but also just an official reply. However, as such reply may be “The appeal of the President of Russian Federation Boris Yeltsin to the peoples of Caucasus on the 130th

anniversary of the end of the Caucasian war” from May, 18, 1994. In it, the head of the state, in line with the “objective interpretation of the events of the Caucasian war”, estimated them as a courageous struggle of the peoples of Caucasus "not only for survival in their native land, but also for preservation of the original culture, the best features of the national character."

On the whole, with the exception of the above Boris Yeltsin’s appeal, the Russian governments of all the periods considered the Circassians as a hostile people who would certainly begin to avenge their defeat. That is a far-fetched accusation, in which there was not even a grain of truth initially. Over the entire period of the exile, the Circassians never made attempts to draw the countries of their residence into a military confrontation with Russia. And vice versa, they did everything in their power to ensure that their countries maintained friendly relations with each other.

In October 1996, the genocide of Circassians committed by the Russian Empire was recognized by the Organization of Nations and Peoples Without Representation (UNPO).

Since the early 2000s in Russian Federation democracy began curtailing. The results of that process quickly affected Adygs (Circassians) of the Republic of Adygea, as the most unprotected part of non-Russian citizens of Russian Federation: only about 25% of the indigenous people in it. The question arose about depriving Adygea of the status of a republic and its return into Krasnodar Region. In the framework of that struggle, which was conducted by Circassians in the name of justice, the Circassian Congress – a public organization of the Republic of Adygea – prepared a CD with a set of the documents confirming the genocide of Adygs (Circassians) and in July, 2005 along with a request to recognize that genocide, it was transferred to the Admission Office of the State Duma of Russian Federation. In response to that, the Parliament of Russian Federation, the successor of the Russian Empire, sent a mocking explanation to the activists that the Circassians did not suffer during the Stalin deportations of peoples, that is, they avoided another lesser-scale tragedy that occurred 80 years after the end of the Russian-Caucasian war.

In October 2006, the public requested the European Parliament to recognize the genocide of the Circassians in the 18th-19th centuries. The document was signed by the leaders of 20 public organizations of Russia, Turkey, Jordan, Syria, Israel, the USA, Canada, Germany and Belgium. In November of the same year, six Circassian public organizations of North Caucasus appealed to the President of Russian Federation Vladimir Putin with a similar request – to recognize the genocide of Circassians committed by the Tsarist Russia.

Since December 2005, the Russian public began working with the Government of Georgia to encourage it to recognize the genocide of Adygs (Circassians) committed by the

Russian Empire. In May 2011, "The Parliament of Georgia adopted a resolution recognizing the genocide of the Circassians by the Russian Empire during the war in Caucasus."

Since March 2011, a new large-scale tragedy arose in the foreign Adyghe (Circassian) diaspora - the war in Syria. Before the war, about 120 thousand Adygs (Circassians) lived in that Arab country. Given the friendly relations between Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin and in the hope for evacuation to their historical homeland, Syrian Adygs (Circassians) mostly concentrated in the area of the state capital – Damascus. However, neither the evacuation nor the mass repatriation of Circassians of Syria to their homeland took place.

In May-July 2014, at the request of the American Circassian Diaspora, the genocide of Adygs (Circassians) committed by Russia was recognized by the Administrative Units of the State of New Jersey (USA) Wayne, Prospect Park and Khaledon.

Since May 2014 till December 2015, Circassian activists – mainly representatives of the Russian foreign countries – sent a number of the governments of Eastern Europe a request to recognize the genocide of Adygs (Circassians) committed by Russia. Those were the Ukraine, Poland, Romania, Moldova, Lithuania, Latvia and Finland.

In January, 2020, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the need to amend the Constitution of Russian Federation, which alarmed Adygs (Circassians) all around the world.

02/13/2020 the Syrian parliament, apparently in revenge for the victories of the Turkish army in the province Idlib, recognized the Armenian Genocide committed by the Ottoman Empire.

On the same day the Russian ambassador to Turkey Aleksey Yerkhov, deviating from the topic of his statement on the Syrian-Turkish military confrontation, justified the actions of the Russian Empire during the Russian-Caucasian war and, denying the genocide of Adygs (Circassians), accused their modern representatives of that they composed a “beautiful legend” about a large-scale tragedy that befell their ancestors.

02/26/2020 the Federation of Circassian Organizations of Turkey Çerkes-Fed sent a petition to the Turkish Parliament demanding that the genocide of Adygs (Circassians) committed by the Russian Empire be recognized.

Thus, the relevance of the UN recognition of Adyghe (Circassian) genocide committed by the Russian Empire is dictated by many factors. The main ones are a distortion of the history of the conquest of Caucasus, lies and slander against Adygs (Circassians), one of its loyal defenders, constantly planted hatred in the country not only for Caucasians, but also for all non-Russians, growing threats to Russian national states, and therefore, the rights of peoples to self-determination, to preserve their identities, languages, distinctive cultures, decent living standards, etc. And the increase in those threats becomes even more significant with the

introduction of so-called “amendments” to the initially imperfect Constitution of Russian Federation.

In other words, the process of such “amending” shows that the position of the modern authorities of Russian Federation is akin to that of the Russian emperors of the late 18th – early 20th centuries. Therefore, the recognition of the genocide of Adygs (Circassians) will serve not only the revival of one people, but will also become an incentive for others to free them from lawlessness – both in the national and in a wider sense. This, as we can hope, will serve as the main factor in the return of Russian Federation onto the path of democratic rebirth.

Dear Mr. Antonio Guterres and Ms. Karima Bennoune! It is clear that the question we raised is not the most straightforward. The Putin regime, looking illegitimate in the eyes of the Russian people for a long time and driven into a corner by the international community, remains the owner of the nuclear weapons. And it, it seems, should not be disturbed on such chronologically distant issue as the genocide of Adygs (Circassians). But our position is extremely critical, as this genocide is actually continuing!

We are also aware that consideration of the issue of the genocide of Adygs (Circassians) at a session of the United Nations General Assembly may be blocked at any of the preparatory stages. Either the Russian representation itself or a representation of a country – Putin’s supporter, can easily cope with that. However, in that case, in our opinion, it is necessary to remember that the regime and the country are not the same things. A part of Russian Federation represented by the Kabardino-Balkarian Republic and the Republic of Adygea has already recognized the genocide of Adygs (Circassians). And it is impossible to erase from the history of the people, nor to ignore it.

Based on the mentioned, we urge you to take all the possible measures to create the conditions for considering the issue of recognition of the Adyghe (Circassian) genocide committed by the Russian Empire during and after the Russo-Caucasian war.

We are confident that even in the face of serious danger common sense must win!

We are convinced that slandered but also famous Adygs (Circassians) will revive, and their country – Circassia – will become both civilized and prosperous again!

Patriots of Circassia

Non-Governmental Organisation