Staunton, May 20 – Ten years ago today, one day before Circassians around the world mark the anniversary of their expulsion from tsarist Russia in 1864, the Georgian parliament voted unanimously to recognize that event and the repressions in Russia against the Circassians since then as an act of genocide.
At that time, many Circassians hoped that other countries, and especially those like Turkey and Jordan where there are large Circassian diasporas or others like Poland and Ukraine which have long shown an interest in ethnic groups within Russia, would follow Tbilisi. But a decade on, that has not happened, largely because Moscow has worked hard to block it.
Murat Temirov, a Circassian activist, said that the Georgian action had not only an important psychological impact on members of his nation but practical consequences as well because Tbilisi opened a Circassian Center and erected a monument to the losses the Circassians suffered (kavkazr.com/a/31264556.html).
“Russia has been blocking the advancement of this agenda both for internal and international policies already for more than a century and a half,” the activist says. “But we hope that Ukraine, Poland, Georgia and Germany where such proposals have been made at the parliamentary level” will nonetheless go ahead and declare the events of 1864 a genocide.
Circassians place particular hope in Turkey and have already pushed for a resolution in the Turkish parliament. That body has not yet moved on their appeal, but it has shown its support of the Circassian nation in other ways, Ilmaz Donmez, another Circassian activist says, and may soon give the Circassians their own television channel.
Such international support is critical, he and other Circassians say, because the situation in the North Caucasus, the homeland of the Circassians, has been getting worse, with their language and culture under increasing pressure from Moscow and the Russians doing what they can to block the return of Circassians from Syria.
If other countries do follow Georgia, they say, it will put pressure on Moscow to change course in its treatment of the Circassians and other national minorities within the current borders of the Russian Federation and thus promote democratic development there that almost all of the world’s countries say they want to see.