Unity as a pledge of victory
By Niison Lich*
Akhmed Zakayev’s aim of holding a World Chechen Congress with the goal of "reconciliation between ourselves and the bringing of all Chechens to agreement and unity," reflects his sober view of the prevailing situation in Ichkeria and his enormous concern for Ichkeria’s future.
At this Congress, Akhmed Zakayev proposes that the following issues should be discussed:
- the need to find those responsible for the killings of civil rights defenders;
- the return of the dead Chechen presidents and resistance fighters;
- the release of the 20,000 Chechens who are being held in detention, and an amnesty for them;
- an end to the persecution of the relatives of insurgents.
The most important aspect of the event is that all these problems will be raised not at a meeting in Grozny or Moscow under the chairmanship of the Kremlin's adopted son Ramzan Kadyrov, but possibly at an international forum in Strasbourg which will bring together representatives of leading international news media from around the world. It will be one more very serious step towards drawing the whole world’s attention to the lawless violence and brutality that have been wrought in the North Caucasus by Russia’s imperial government, particularly in Chechnya and Ingushetia.
The Congress will be an attempt to solve the problem of unity and reconciliation among the Vainakhs, because one of the principal topics for discussion will be the issue of how to find a way out of the terrible situation of mutual destruction into which we have fallen with the help of the Kremlin. This the approach that is demanded of us by the Prophet Muhammad "Do not become infidels after my death by cutting one another’s throats" (Al-Bukhari).
Zakayev also opposes the aspiration of the Islamist insurgents “to destroy all those who work in the police” in retaliation for “the outrages perpetrated by the law enforcement bodies. All the warring parties must cease and desist. And this is the most important issue we must resolve if we want agreement among ourselves."
Our generation has also served the [Russian] empire: in the army, in the government, in industry and manufacturing: we learned our skills in the imperial schools and universities. Out of this past came all who bore arms to victory in first Russian-Chechen war, and to defeat in the second. But every defeat contains the hope of a future victory. And we will attain that victory, at a time ordained by God and history.
The Islamist insurgents have introduced the anti-Islamic technique of suicide bombing into their methods of warfare. The Koran and the Sunna contain not a single word about suicide bombing. I have no faith in the Islamist clerics and their fatwas – first, because although they may be great religious scholars, they are also real people with their faults, virtues and delusions. Secondly, while they lead the faithful into error, they themselves are not prepared to undertake acts of suicide bombing, but call on others to show "selflessness” by doing so. Why should we Sunnis adopt the tactics and strategy of the Shiites, and nurture a generation of Vainakh suicides?
The unity proposed by Akhmed Zakayev is vitally essential, because for almost a hundred years now we have lived amidst the protracted disintegration of the Russian Empire. The factors contributing to this process are visible to the naked eye. These include the moral and technological depreciation of the Russian state, the absence of even a semblance of modernization, the abolition of the rule of law and the imposition under Putin of Cheka-style brutality and violence, the stifling of free speech, the extrajudicial execution of journalists and civil rights activists, and the all-embracing corruption.
It is an unacceptable political mistake and a crime against our people to approach the impending collapse of the Russian Empire in a state of disunity and mutual destruction. It is also, in my view, somewhat politically inadvisable to make the Congress a Chechen rather than a Vainakh one. In addition to sharing a kinship of blood and language, a common religion and a common historical destiny, we are even more closely related by the tragic events of the past eighteen years, and by the proclamation and activities of the Caucasus Emirate.
The policies of Akhmed Zakayev are founded on the tenets of the Holy Koran and Sunna. The Prophet Muhammad said: "I asked my Lord not to let my Umma die from hunger – he promised me that. I asked him not to let my Umma die from floods – he promised me that. I asked him not to let my people fight each other – and he rejected that request" (Imam Muslim). Thus the followers of Islam must themselves take steps to overcome internecine strife, and this is what Akhmed Zakayev seeks.
*Niison Lich is the pseudonym of an Ingush civil rights activist
(Translation by DM)