Public Statement by Mothers of Beslan

posted 28 Sept 2016, 01:41 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 28 Sept 2016, 01:44 ]
19 September 2016

Source: [original source: Article20]

We are writing to you regarding the events in Beslan on the days of mourning – 1-3 September and 14 September 2016. On 1 September, 5 women who were victims in the terrorist attack got up in the school sports hall wearing T-shirts with a written message near the photographs of their dead children. It was a heartfelt cry from the mothers. It was a response to the failure to recognize the truth about the heinous terrorist attack.

We believe that the mothers have the right to express their opinion precisely in the sports hall and precisely on these days of mourning, when reliving the suffering and deaths of their children is particularly hard. We believe that everyone who truly shares in our grief and sympathises with us must understand our call for an investigation into this terrorist attack.

On 1 September 2016, at 12 o’clock, on the way home, the women who had been filmed in the T-shirts (with writing on), were bundled into a car by force and then forcibly held for 14.5 hours in the police department and in court. The police sought to bring charges under Article 20.2 and Article 19.3 of the Administrative Offences Code of the Russian Federation and alleged that the six women in the sports hall shouted at police officers: “You are the murderers of our children” and distribution of leaflets. Evidently the T-shirts alone were not enough to bring administrative charges.

Three of the women had been held hostage 12 years ago, and their children were killed. Sveta Margieva’s only daughter died in her arms, and Margieva herself was wounded. Zhanna Tsirikhova was in the sports hall with her two children, her youngest died. Severely wounded, Zhanna dragged her elder daughter out of the sports hall. Zemfira Tsirikhova was in the sports hall with her two sons, the younger one was fatally wounded and died before her eyes. Zemfira and her elder son were injured. The actions of the men with guns caused them enormous emotional stress.

They were tried at night. That tribunal at night was a disgrace to justice: no witnesses, no right to a defence. And if there was a consensus among us that on 1 September 2016 the district police acted unlawfully regarding these women, subsequent events on 3 September 2016 at the site of the former school and the cemetery indicate that pressure from the police has intensified.

On 3 September, Ella Kesaeva was attacked inside the sports hall and police officers forcibly took away a video camera. In front of the servants of law and order, journalists were beaten and doused with green paint.

We waited for an official reaction, we waited for an apology. But on the night of 14 September, police officers (most of them in plainclothes), drove up to the houses of the women who had worn the T-shirts in the sports hall and demanded that they sign, in front of a camera, a warning that they must not carry out any further actions. There were 15 people. They threatened the women with criminal liability.

What is this – their personal initiative to intimidate the victims’ families?

As a result of the visit from police officers and civilians the mother of Emma Tagaeva (whose whole family was killed in the terrorist attack: her two sons and husband) suffered a heart attack. All of these women have experienced deterioration in their health.

Now we know that no measures at all have been adopted to bring the perpetrators to justice. Does this mean that while wearing the T-shirts constitutes a violation, yet insults to victims, the use of violence, the night-time trial, the beating of journalists, intimidation, have all become the norm in our lives?

The state failed to prevent the terrorist attack and protect the hostages. In order that these tragedies do not happen again, we have to learn from the Beslan tragedy, but the necessary conclusions about the need to prevent the use of force against individuals have not been drawn. And what happened on 1-3 September 2016 and 14 September 2016 is a continuation of terror. And this was the response to the demand for an investigation into the terrorist attack, to the demand that those who are guilty be punished.

We are extremely concerned about the working methods of the police when the force and the power of the state are used against dissidents.

Is this what you want our Republic to be like? Is this the kind of place you want our young people to live in?

The answer to this question is needed, not only by us, but by all understanding and right-thinking citizens.

Translated by Kate Goodby