Sochi 2014 - Fate of Circassians a taboo (archive)
The venue of the Olympic Games, Sochi, was the last capital of Circassia. Until the people were expelled by the Russians. That was a genocide, said the historian and author Manfred Quiring on Deutschlandfunk. In Russia, the topic is a taboo.
Christoph Heinemann: In Berlin, a man is on a hunger strike. For a week and until February 23, Shamis Hatko does not eat. And it is no coincidence that this hunger strike exactly covers the period of the Winter Olympics, because Schamis Hatko is a member of the Circassian meeting in Hanover. The Circassians live everywhere except in their original settlement area - a result of their centenary war against the Russian Tsars, which began in the 18th century and ended in 1864 with defeat and expulsion. Hundreds of thousands died fleeing across the Black Sea. Since then, Circassians have refused to eat fish from the Black Sea, where so many relatives died.
This is what Manfred Quiring writes. The former correspondent of the daily newspaper "The World" in Moscow has written a book entitled "The forgotten genocide: Sochi and the tragedy of Circassians". I asked him before this broadcast what the venue of the Winter Olympics had to do with the Circassians.
Manfred Quiring: Sochi is directly connected to the history of Circassians. Sochi was the last capital of Circassia. Circassia is the country where the Circassians lived, logically, that can not be found on any map today. That's erased from all cards. Sochi remains the last capital and the coast from Sochi to Anapa was the coast on which the deportation of the Circassians took place in Turkey.
Quiring: From the point of view of the Circassians, the Circassian historians, whom I also join, he was a genocide for brutality, for the mass murder of people and "ethnic cleansing", and many hundreds of thousands of Circassians have fallen victim to these two events. Given this scope - which is certainly comparable to the fate of the Armenians - one can speak with some justification of genocide.
Quiring: The beginning of the war dates back to 1763, when the Tsars erected a fortress on Circassian territory, the Masdog Fortress, and from then on battles and skirmishes took place, which gradually rose to a centenary war degenerated. The goal of the Czars was to secure access to the Black Sea and then march on the Ottoman Empire and Persia. At first we thought about submitting to the Circassians and the other Caucasian peoples, and then proceeding until they realized that submission did not work, and finally decided to drive the Circassians out of the mountains either to destroy them, or to deport them to Turkey.
Quiring: This war is usually not rated in public at all. If so, this is a side event, which does not raise much public interest, and in preparation for the Olympics the topic was downright taboo, as I heard from friends in Moscow.
Quiring: It was taboo to talk about it. They did not want to burden the happy mood of the Olympic Games with this gloomy past, and at the same time they wanted to protest the protests that took place, especially in Turkey, where two million Circassians were living has largely ignored them.
Quiring: According to Russian self-image, that was an attack on Russia itself. It was an attempt in their opinion that they wanted to disrupt the Olympics in this way, and it was, in their view, again and again, also completely unjustified, because this was a war like any other from the point of view of Russian historiography.
Quiring: Well, of course he rocked up from both sides. The Circassians did not want to become subjects of the Czar, they did not want to accept Russian Orthodoxy, and most of all they did not want to leave the mountains, which was the goal of the Russian army and the Cossacks. At first they wanted to drive the Circassians into the plain so that they could settle there, so that they could not entrench themselves in the mountains and, if necessary, attack the Russian troops who had built fortresses down the coast.
Heinemann: Let's talk about the Circassian culture. An integral part of the culture and way of life was a solid code of honor. What was every decent Circassian obliged to do?
Quiring: This code is called Adyge Xabze and commits a Circassian to courage, sincerity, honesty, generosity and modesty. It was considered outrageous to brag about his wealth and to let oneself go, so to speak. You always had to be mastered and always had to be gallant towards women.
Heinemann: Settlement area of the Circassians is an interface between the Orient and the Occident. To what extent has this influenced the Circassian culture?
Quiring: It shaped her insofar as culture was always a culture of warlike conflict. Centuries before the Russians discovered their interests down there, many other nomadic armies were there. The Huns were down there, Timur Lenk had his army ...
Quiring: Tamerlan, right. Of course, the Circassians had armed conflicts with all of them, had to retire to the mountains, returned to the plains, where they ran their livestock and their horse breeding, the famous Kabardin. This, of course, shaped their very warlike nature over the centuries. They were constantly engaged in training, rider games took place, and that shaped the culture quite decisively.
Quiring: Yes! The first contacts between Circassians and Russians were not negative, but they made alliances. The daughter of Temryuk, the Kababian prince, married Ivan the Terrible, Ivan IV, which was a dynastic marriage. He wanted to secure the southern borders of his empire and makes it clear to us which great strategic importance the region, but also the people of Circassians had at the time.
Heinemann: Stalin was known to be a Georgian, as far as familiar with the history of the Caucasus peoples. How did the Circassians in the Soviet Union?
Quiring: The Circassians in the Soviet Union were first separated territorially, which is still maintained today and is adopted by the Russian side as natural. They live in Kabardino-Balkaria today, they live in Karachai-Cherkess and they live in Adygea. Adygeja is the name for Cherkessia, its own name. They call themselves, the Circassians call themselves Adyge in their language. They live in these three territorial, separate units today. There are about 700,000 Circassians living in Russia, while there is a diaspora of several millions scattered across Turkey, in the Middle East and even in the United States there is a community of about 8,000 to 10,000 Circassians.
Quiring: Above all, you have the demand for historical justice. They want their suffering, their war and their defeat as such to be considered a day of mourning and a sad event, and one of the main demands of the Circassians today is to get the unconditional right of return through Russia.
Quiring: Russia is not ready for either of these two key points at the moment. They write the history themselves, write the victors, that is the Russian point of view, and they have no interest in describing, so to speak, a sacrificial people. They describe the victory of the Cossacks and Czarist troops, and that, in their view, has been a joyous event, and it is essentially left with that, although there are, of course, serious historians who point out that they see things differently today.
Quiring: Even with Russian, yes. And they do not want to grant the right to return to the Circassians, because they already have many problems in the Caucasus, security problems with the other Caucasian peoples, especially Chechens, in Dagestan, Ingushetia. They fear that a new group brings further unrest to the Caucasus.
Quiring: Yes, you really have to separate it. The self-proclaimed Emir of the Caucasus, Doku Umarov, has no connection with the Circassians. In other words, you have to divide it very neatly that the Islamist forces that are there in the underground with terrorist attacks, have nothing to do with the Circassians, although the Islam, but a very liberal form of Islam and terrorism in principle reject.
Quiring: Especially in Moscow, it is very noticeable that, although they are represented there in large numbers, they are regarded as second-class people. They are derogatory called "Schwarzärsche", regularly attacked. If you seek culprits, you are looking for guilty people of any criminal activities usually first with the Caucasians. They are treated as second-class people there.
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