Soviet leader Joseph Stalin ordered the deportation of the entire Chechen and Ingush population to Central Asia on the 23rd February of 1944, . More than half of the 500,000 people who were to be forcibly transported died in transit or in massacres committed by Soviet troops. Those who survived the journey were left facing starvation and disease in the harsh winters of Siberia and Central Asia. Within days an entire people had been erased from the land of their ancestors. Overnight Chechnya and Ingushetia were emptied of their native inhabitants, and every reference to Chechnya was removed from official maps, records and encyclopaedias.
In 2004, sixty years after the event, the European Parliament passed a motion that recognised this catastrophe as Genocide. Thus, 23rd February is World Chechnya Day. It is a day that few are aware of and yet none should forget.
World Chechnya Day is intended to commemorate the dignity and resiliance of a people who, against all odds, refused to be erased from existence.
World Chechnya Day is being commemorated to:
- Recognise the suffering and genocide of the Chechen people as a human catastrophe of historic significance
- Respect all victims of Stalinist deportations
- Raise awareness and understanding of the Chechen genocide as an issue of importance to humanity
- Ensure that the horrendous crimes, racism and victimisation that were committed during the Chechen genocide will never be forgotten or repeated, in Europe or elsewhere in the world
- Reflect on contemporary atrocities that raise similar issues
- Educate subsequent generations about the genocide and the continued relevance of the lessons that can be learnt from it
- Assert a continuing commitment to oppose racism, victimisation and genocide
- Support shared aspirations for the ideals of justice, security, dignity and peace for all.