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Published in the 1-15 Oct 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition


Killing the innocent in Beslan and Chechnya

No believing Muslim can accept the barbaric killing of the innocent school children at Beslan. Nothing justifies the killing of the innocent hostages. But the whole truth about the school hostage tragedy has not come to light. It is difficult to understand why the Russian security forces decided to proceed with the rescue operation when the hostage-takers accepted negotiations and started releasing a few dozen of the captives as a gesture of goodwill. 

The Indian government for instance went through lengthy negotiations for more than three weeks to get the release of three Indians kept as hostages in Iraq but the Russians went ahead with the most irresponsible and unsuccessful storming tactics in order to kill their own children and their parents.

Personal revenge plays an important part in retaliatory violence throughout the world. Iraq, Chechnya and Palestine are no exceptions. For instance, the most prominent suicide bomber who was responsible for the killing of over one hundred Russians in a Moscow theatre a year ago was a 23-year-old Chechen girl who was just 12 years old when she was forced to witness the Russian brutes rape her mother. 

This girl could have chosen to remain patient until the Hereafter, leaving the judgment of her mother's tormentors to God Almighty or she could have gone to the Russian judiciary asking for justice (Is it working?) or she could have taken law into her own hands out of despair. She decided to kill as many Russian troops as possible out of the trauma that she went through.

Take the example of the heart-bleeding case of the infamous "Best Bakery". What would have been the reaction of law-lovers if the surviving lady Zahira Shaikh out of anger and vengeance at the brutal, collective killing of her father at the spur of the criminals, decided to hurl a few home-made bombs at the security personnel or the local politicians killing a few and wounding a few. They would say, certainly it is wrong. 

Now back to Chechnya: ten years ago Chechnya had a population of two million. Today it is said to be just 800,000, and Vladimir Putin has an army estimated to be up to 200,000 soldiers in Chechnya inflicting terror day and night. Many Chechens are refugees and many others have simply disappeared, often in the night. At least 200,000 Chechen civilians have been killed by Russian soldiers, including 35,000 children. Another 40,000 children have been seriously injured, 32,000 have lost at least one parent and 6,500 have been orphaned. These are figures supported by reports of human rights organisations such as Amnesty International. This is how Putin's soldiers treat Chechen civilians. How much of these atrocities, ethnic cleansing and brutal killings are covered by major Indian mass media or by the mainstream world media far too little (not even one per cent) compared to the coverage given to the Beslan tragedy which I would never ever condone but why is this travesty? Why the one-sided reporting, why the hypocrisy and why the hide and seek games in honestly reporting world events.

There is something basically wrong with our understanding of morality, judiciary, international relations, political ethics and human rights. It is high time the most eminent international social scientists redefine and reinterpret these concepts without prejudice and discrimination. 

Muhammad Ameen, Brunie Darussalam

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