But the expansionist and imperialist policies of Russia from the second half of the 18th Century onwards resulted in our national tragedy, the consequences of which we Circassians are still suffering from. On 21st May in 1864 our national liberation war, which had lasted for more than a century, ended in our defeat. Consequently the tsarist Russian Army invaded Circassia, razed entire villages and settlements to the ground, rounded up our people, including women, children and elderly, and forcibly deported them en masse. All aspects of Circassian existence in the Western Caucasus were deliberately destroyed.
Even the official historian of the Russo-Circassian War, Adolph Berge, reported that hundreds of thousands of Circassians had died in the war and more than % 95 of survivors were sent to exile, of whom many thousands would lose their lives en route to the Ottoman lands due to cold weather, hunger and disease. The eighty thousand Circassians who had managed to remain in their homeland in the aftermath made up even less than % 10 of the original population of what remained of Circassia.
Based on the reports of those who witnessed the atrocities in person, it can be concluded without a doubt that the war that the Russia waged in Circassia in the 19th century against the native population cannot be considered an ordinary military operation. Russia’s aim was not only to acquire land but to forcibly remove and destroy Circassians and other tribes, who had taken part in the struggle for the freedom and independence of Circassia.
In the last one hundred and forty seven years that have passed since the Russo-Circassian War ended, the political system in Russia has changed a number of times but the state’s hostile attitude towards Circassians has remained intact. Assimilationist policies towards those Circassians who still reside in their historical homeland continue unabated while the exiled Circassians’ descendants are prevented from returning to their homeland.
Today in the Russian Federation there are around 700.000 Circassians (Kabardians, Cherkess, Adygean and Shapsough) living in an area that constitutes even less than %20 of their historical lands. Furthermore these Circassians live in communities that are scattered through the following federal units in the Caucasus: Kabardino-Balkaria, Karacay-Cerkessia, Adygeya, Krasnodar and Stavropol Krays.
Despite claiming to adhere to democratic principles, the Russian Federation is still continuing with the tsarist Russia’s policies against Circassians. As a result of this, more than six million Circassians still live in diaspora in over fifty countries facing the loss of their language and culture.
An appeal for an official acknowledgement of Circassian Genocide was submitted to the Russian State Duma on 1st July 2005. However, failing to overcome their ethnic and religious prejudices, the Russian authorities refused to take legal and moral responsibility for the atrocities committed by the Russian state in the past.
Therefore we are calling on the Russian Federation to officially recognize that the tsarist Russia subjected the Circassian people to genocide and forcibly removed them from their homeland. The Russian Federation should realize that having to live in scattered communities in different units of the Federation and in many other countries is the greatest existential threat to Circassians. And it is this threat that is the biggest obstacle to establishing peace and stability in our region.
With a statement of recognition, the Russian Federation will have taken a major step towards remedying a historical injustice and re-uniting our people in our historical homeland Circassia where we can live without the fear of the future. This will help us build a bridge of peace and trust between the Russian and Circassian peoples.
we demand that
The Circassian Genocide and Exile should be recognized and May 21st be officially designated as “the Circassian Genocide and Exile Day” worldwide.
The Russian Federation should set up the legal framework in order for Circassians to live in their motherland as a sovereign nation.
Assimilationist policies in our historical homeland must cease and state support must be offered for the survival of our linguistic, cultural and religious make-up.
Circassians in diaspora should be given the status of an “exiled community”, as described in UNPO’s decision of 1997, and their repatriation to their historical homeland must be encouraged. Moral and material support for repatriation should be provided.
The first step in this direction should be to provide Circassians with dual citizenship regardless of their place of residence and offer them positive discrimination in housing and employment in their historical homeland.
The Russian Federation should liaise with relevant authorities of the countries where Circassian diaspora live to create conditions for the survival of Circassian language and culture. For the same objective the Russian Federation should assist Circassian diaspora organisations, both morally and financially.
The harassment and persecution of Circassian activists and patriots in the homeland, who are actively engaged in Circassian political activism, must stop immediately and those responsible for these actions should be brought to justice.
In the light of the recent political upheavals and armed conflicts taking place in Libya, Egypt, Jordan and Syria, the Russian Federation should take an active part in saving the lives of Circassians in these countries and organize their repatriation to their historical homeland in North Caucasus.
Circassians as a nation should have the right to self-determination.
live the Circassian Struggle!
Long Live Circassia!
The Circassian Patriots