The holding of the Winter Olympics 2014 in Sochi causes huge distress to Circassians from all over the world. In the collective memory of Circassians/Northern Caucasians, the region around Sochi is inseparably linked to the history of colonial massacres and deportations. The latter are responsible for the fact that only a small minority of Circassians remains living in the original homeland, while today the huge majority is dispersed all over the world. The key date of the Circassian genocide is May 21, 1864. The Winter Olympics thus, in a symbolic way, fall into the very period which marks the 150th anniversary of the tragical end of war at Krasnaya Polyana.
Since the announcement of the host city in the year 2007, the Circassian/Northern Caucasian diaspora has relentlessly striven to make the world public aware of not only the environmental problems and other serious drawbacks of Sochi 2014, but of this aspect as well. While the German public closely follows civil movements in Russia and accompanies them in solidarity, the fate of the Circassians has been accorded hardly any attention until today. For the Circassians themselves (around 40 000 in Germany alone) as well as for those who take interest in their fate and sympathize with them, it is extremely painful that there is now an imminent danger of their existence being forgotten and denied once more.
Your decision as German president, Mr. Gauck, to not attend the Winter Olympics in Sochi, has opened a debate and caused the topics of «human rights» and «protection of minorities» to move into the center of public attention. For Circassians from all over the world this constitutes a signal of hope for their causes being paid attention to as well from now on. For this reason we would like to express our gratitude and our respect towards you here.
We would also very much like to invite you to acquaint yourself with Circassian culture and history, be it by talking to representatives of the Circassian diaspora, by visiting the current exhibition «The Circassians – Dispersed from the Caucasus Across the World» at the Museum of Ethnology in Hamburg, or by letting us welcome you at one of the Circassian/ Northern Caucasian associations and societies in Germany.
The Winter Olympics which are going to take place in Sochi in February 2014, should not become another international act of denial and concealment. It is our strong wish that Circassians' efforts to preserve their culture and their historical memory will receive recognition and will find their place in the public mind among other civil movements.
Petition by Irma Kreiten, Istanbul, Turkey,
Translated Susanna Shazzo, natpress
You can sign petition here