February 23, World Chechnya Day
No one and Nothing is Forgotten!
Winter of 1944
Like an extreme blade
In these years
Summer never arrived
Wounds of my bleeding heart have never healed Time is an eternity
But not a cure to forget
Our way and 13 years in Siberia!
February 23, 1944 is the most tragic date in the history of the Chechen-Ingush (Waynakh) people.
On February 11, 1943, the Politburo, the Communist Party’s ruling executive committee (Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union), discussed the idea of “liquidating” the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Republic and deporting the entire Chechen-Ingush nation based on the accusation of “collaboration with the Germans”. This was declared despite the fact that “between 1941 and 1944, more than 40,000 Chechens fought in the Red Army,” and “450 people with arms in their hands fought against the Soviets”.
In the eviction operation of the Chechens and Ingush (codenamed “Chechevitsa” [Lentil]) that cost nearly 150 million Rubles (3.9 million Euros), up to 20,000 operatives of the NKVD, NKGB, and SMERSH participated, as well as 100,000 soldiers from regular army units.
As it was planned, on February 23, 1944, not individuals, not a group, not a part of the population, but the entire Chechen-Ingush nation: men and women, children and old people – all of them became victims of Soviet Russia’s genocide! People were herded into unheated cattle trucks for a journey that lasted many weeks. The train stopped every 24 hours and the dead, who are sacred to the Chechens, were thrown down embankments.
But a mountain village called Khaibakh, which is at the heart of Chechnya, came to symbolize Russia’s policy of genocide. On February 26, 1944, its 700 or so inhabitants, including pregnant women, centenarians and toddlers, were driven into a large stable and burned alive. The man responsible for the massacre reported his actions with a telegram:
To: People’s Commissar for Internal Affairs of the USSR Comrade L.P. Beria
For your eyes only
Given the impossibility of transportation and in order to complete Operation Mountains on schedule, I was obliged to liquidate over 700 residents of the village of Khaibakh.
Grozny, Dept. Internal Affairs,
And he was congratulated with the following reply from Moscow:
Following your resolute action while resettling Chechens in the Khaibakh area you have been recommended for state distinction with promotion.
PC Internal Affairs USSR L.P. Beria.
According to Soviet archives, in just a few days, 496,400 Chechen-Ingush people were deported into Central Asia and Siberia; and up to 250,000 people died during the eviction and exile; only half of them could return to their historical homelands after 1957.
There was such an incredible darkness and censorship that the world could learn what happened two years after this brutal incident! And in 2004, 60 years after the deportation, the European Parliament recognized the deportation of the entire Chechen people to Central Asia and Siberia on February 23, 1944 on the orders of Stalin, as constituting an act of genocide within the meaning of the Fourth Hague Convention of 1907 and the Convention for the Prevention and Repression of the Crime of Genocide adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1948.
Today, despite all efforts at prevention, the world community can learn about the genocide that the Chechen people have faced in the last two decades, but will the world’s leading politicians wait another 60 years to say what happened in Chechnya?
We, Save Chechnya Campaign, ask that all governments of independent and democratic countries recognize Soviet Russia’s “1944 deportation” and activities of the 21st century’s democratic Russia, in Chechnya in the 1990s and 2000s as acts of genocide against the Chechen people, as well as to establish an special international war crimes court in which the perpetrators of the crimes committed against innocent Chechen civilians can stand trial!
Adv. Burak Oztas
General Director of Save Chechnya Campaign