Fathers and sons
By Usam Baysayev, special to Prague Watchdog
We held a funeral for an insurgent the other day. A well-known one. On more than one occasion I had seen photographs of him at the checkpoints with the caption “Sniper”. I took note: after all, he was one of our fellow-villagers.
We laid him in the ground without fuss, just took his corpse to the cemetery and buried it. None of his relatives opened the gates of their houses, and likewise no one came to express their condolences to them.
In Chechnya now it is quite common, the ban on funerals. In our village alone I know of several such cases. On one occasion a gathering of this kind was even broken up by armed men – Chechens against Chechens.
But this time it all came out very badly, and ended in a way that was inhuman. The man’s relatives, who had been told that the corpse was at a district police station, refused to collect it. So his fellow villagers had to go there.
The father was a supporter of Chechen independence who had devoted many months and even years to the struggle for what he thought was right. His son had been denied the chance of taking a different path – for him his father was the chief authority. It goes without saying that his place among the fighters was prepared for him long before he himself made his choice.
His two younger brothers grew up and followed the older one into the forest. The family began to be subjected to repression:: one man was abducted and disappeared, another was killed and his house burned down.
Lacking the strength to stand up to the authorities, the father, who was now suffering from a terminal illness, disowned his sons. All three of them at once. The relatives, too, made an undertaking to kill them on sight, or to give the authorities information concerning their whereabouts. Alternatively, anyone who would do the killing for them would be pardoned.
Usually it is the fathers who are the source of wars, and the children who die in them. It is terrible and unusual when the fathers disown the sons who tread in their footsteps. Even if they are compelled to do so.
(Translation by DM)