Voice of Beslan
Voice of Beslan (Russian: Голос Беслана) is a grassroots non-governmental organization created in the aftermath of the 2004 North Ossetian Beslan school hostage crisis, as a splinter group of more radical members of the Mothers of Beslan support and advocacy group of parents of children who were among the victims.
The group was created in response to what they see as the incompetence and excessive force used by the security services, especially with regard to the firing from tanks and flame throwers at the school. Voice of Beslan is chaired by sisters Ella Kesayeva and Emma Tagayeva.
Voice of Beslan have demanded an international investigation of the Beslan terrorist attack and in November 2005 called on the European Union and the European Parliament to help establish one, as well as on the United States leadership to publish satellite photographs of the school made during the siege. They have also asked private journalists with have any material on the attack to present them for an investigation.
Between February 9 and February 19, 2006, six members of Voice of Beslan held a 10-day hunger strike to draw attention to their claims that authorities were covering up the truth about the Beslan attack. On February 22, 2006, members of Voice of Beslan met with United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour.
In 2007, members of the group erected a sign pointing at the ruins of the Beslan school reading "Putin's course". Same year, the Supreme Court of North Ossetia had obliged the court of the city of Beslan to consider the claim of the Voice of Beslan on appointing pensions to parents of the children who perished in the siege.
In February 2008, the group has filed a complaint against the actions of the investigatory group which was in charge of forensic medical examination of victims' bodies. The complaint was rejected the next month.
On December 21, 2007, a supreme court of North Ossetia has ordered the Voice of Beslan to disband. In response, its activists started a protest hunger strike. "The decision was made by the authorities because our organization is fighting for the right to have a fair investigation of what happened in Beslan," group founder Ella Kesayeva said. The court refused to hear witnesses who said that the election of the new chairperson was falsified.
In February 2008, the group changed its name to Voice of Beslan All-Russian Public Organization of Terror Act Victims and decided it will not get registered again, saying that such form of public organization without registration is possible under the Russian federal law. Another group called Voice of Beslan continues to exist.
In January 2008, Russian prosecutors in Nazran, Ingushetia, laid extremism charges against campaigners over a 2005 appeal the group issued to politicians in Europe and the United States. After several Ingush public figures have come out strongly against the harassment of the organization, the trial was transferred to North Ossetia. The group could be banned if found extremist.
In a public appeal, Voice of Beslan asked the Russian president Vladimir Putin to stop prosecuting the organization. Putin answered that the issue is beyond his competence. After receiving a reply, Kesayeva has stated "the end of illusions" in relation to Putin. The group threatened to use a legal action brought by authorities against them to expose Putin's role in Beslan tragedy.
Several other charges against the group soon followed (the total of four cases as of February 2008). In one, the group was accused of beating up court bailiffs. The group said prosecutors are fabricating assault charges to punish them for seeking the truth about the siege.
"The terrorists who seized the school in Beslan also said that their families had died, their loved ones killed and that is why they had come to kill. But this is a vicious circle that has to be broken…. The law is above everything. If only the law had worked, then what happened to Kulayev and to us would not have occurred."
"How can people who suffered from a terrorist act become extremists themselves? We're the ones looking for the truth, looking for a better life, for a country where laws are followed and where children don't die in terrorist acts. And we're the ones accused of extremism."
"Those whom we consider responsible for our children's death will escape justice, and our tragedy will be forgotten once the trial ends."
- Police Gag the Voice of Beslan Kommersant, Oct. 28, 2005
- (Russian) City of Angels. The inquest committee of Beslan procuracy initiated a criminal case against Beslan mothers The New Times, February 18, 2008
- Relatives Want Europe To Probe Beslan Tragedy Radio Free Europe, 30 November 2005
- Appeal by Voice of Beslan, Pravda Beslana, November 30, 2005
- Arbour visits Beslan Eurasia Daily Monitor, February 23, 2006. Last accessed July 18, 2006
- Relatives of victims of Beslan siege go on trial The Guardian, January 14, 2008
- "Voice of Beslan" demands repeated examination of victims' bodies Caucasian Knot, 22/2/2008
- Court in North Ossetia rejects complaint of "Voice of Beslan" Caucasian Knot, 13/3/2008
- Shake-Up Of Beslan Group Ordered The Moscow Times, August 28, 2007
- Belsan victim's relatives forced to disband ABC News, Dec 20, 2007
- Court Orders Beslan Mothers to Disband The Moscow Times, December 21, 2007
- "Voice of Beslan" changes the name and will not get registered Caucasian Knot, 8/2/2008
- Beslan siege support group charged with extremism ABC AM, 13 March 2008
- Beslan siege group says faces trial over campaign Reuters, 10 Jan 2008
- Beslan protest group to stand trial The Times, January 11, 2008
- Beslan Group is Called Extremist The Moscow Times, January 14, 2008
- Russia investigates Beslan victims group Associated Press, Dec 20, 2007
- Beslan moms blame Putin, face charges Chicago Tribune, January 18, 2008
- Extreme injustice The Guardian, January 24, 2008
- Ingush public opinion expresses opposition to harassment of "Voice of Beslan" Prague Watchdog, January 16th 2008
- Kesaeva is satisfied with transfer of the "Voice of Beslan" trial to North Ossetia Caucasian Knot, 15/1/2008
- Voice of Beslan" asks Putin to stop prosecuting the organization Caucasian Knot, 11/1/2008
- Kesaeva: "Voice of Beslan" cherishes no more illusions on Putin Caucasian Knot, 31/1/2008
- Beslan mothers threaten to condemn Putin in court Reuters, Jan 15, 2008
- Another case initiated against "Voice of Beslan" Caucasian Knot, 25/2/2008
- Russian police summon Beslan siege campaigners Reuters, Feb 11, 2008
- Ossetian Revenge Killer Honoured IWPR, 06-Feb-08
- Ella Kesayeva quotes
- (Russian) Voice of Beslan homepage (machine translation)
- Putin's legacy is a massacre, say the mothers of Beslan, The Independent, 26 February 2008