Voice of Beslan

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Voice of Beslan (Russian: Голос Беслана Golos Beslana) is a grassroots non-governmental organization created in the aftermath of the 2004 North Ossetian Beslan school siege, 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.[1] Voice of Beslan is chaired by sisters Ella Kesayeva and Emma Tagayeva.[2] It has received funds from the US National Endowment for Democracy.[3]

Activities[edit]

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,[4] 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.[5]

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.[6]

In 2007 members of the group erected a sign pointing at the ruins of the Beslan school reading "Putin's course".[7] 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.[8] The complaint was rejected the next month.[9]

Split[edit]

On August 28, 2007, a court in Vladikavkaz has ruled that a group must change leaders to those less critical of the Kremlin and register again.[10]

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.[11] "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.[12] The court refused to hear witnesses who said that the election of the new chairperson was falsified.[2]

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.[13] Another group called Voice of Beslan continues to exist.[14]

Infighting and internal strife occurred as a result of the politicized activities.[15]

Persecution[edit]

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.[14][16][17][18][19][20][21] After several Ingush public figures have come out strongly against the harassment of the organization,[22] the trial was transferred to North Ossetia.[23] 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.[24] Putin answered that the issue is beyond his competence. After receiving a reply, Kesayeva has stated "the end of illusions" in relation to Putin.[25] The group threatened to use a legal action brought by authorities against them to expose Putin's role in Beslan tragedy.[26]

Several other charges against the group soon followed (the total of four cases as of February 2008).[27] 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.[28]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Police Gag the Voice of Beslan Archived 2011-06-06 at the Wayback Machine Kommersant, Oct. 28, 2005
  2. ^ a b ‹See Tfd›(in Russian) City of Angels. The inquest committee of Beslan procuracy initiated a criminal case against Beslan mothers Archived 2008-02-29 at the Wayback Machine The New Times, February 18, 2008
  3. ^ "Annual Report" (PDF). National Endowment for Democracy. 2011.
  4. ^ Relatives Want Europe To Probe Beslan Tragedy Radio Free Europe, 30 November 2005
  5. ^ Appeal by Voice of Beslan, Pravda Beslana, November 30, 2005
  6. ^ Arbour visits Beslan Archived 2006-07-17 at the Wayback Machine Eurasia Daily Monitor, February 23, 2006. Last accessed July 18, 2006
  7. ^ Relatives of victims of Beslan siege go on trial The Guardian, January 14, 2008
  8. ^ "Voice of Beslan" demands repeated examination of victims' bodies[permanent dead link] Caucasian Knot, 22/2/2008
  9. ^ Court in North Ossetia rejects complaint of "Voice of Beslan" Caucasian Knot, 13/3/2008
  10. ^ Shake-Up Of Beslan Group Ordered The Moscow Times, August 28, 2007
  11. ^ Belsan victim's relatives forced to disband ABC News, Dec 20, 2007
  12. ^ Court Orders Beslan Mothers to Disband Archived 2007-12-24 at the Wayback Machine The Moscow Times, December 21, 2007
  13. ^ "Voice of Beslan" changes the name and will not get registered[permanent dead link] Caucasian Knot, 8/2/2008
  14. ^ a b Beslan siege support group charged with extremism ABC AM, 13 March 2008
  15. ^ Toal, Gerard (as Gearóid Ó Tuathail) (Virginia Tech School of Public and International Affairs). "Placing blame: Making sense of Beslan." Political Geography 28 (2009) 4–15. Alt link - CITED: p. 13 (PDF p. 10/12)- Quote: "This highly politicized work engendered a further split within this group, and a fight over its offices, leadership and legitimacy."
  16. ^ Beslan siege group says faces trial over campaign Reuters, 10 Jan 2008
  17. ^ Beslan protest group to stand trial The Times, January 11, 2008
  18. ^ Beslan Group is Called Extremist Archived 2008-03-28 at the Wayback Machine The Moscow Times, January 14, 2008
  19. ^ Russia investigates Beslan victims group Associated Press, Dec 20, 2007
  20. ^ Beslan moms blame Putin, face charges[permanent dead link] Chicago Tribune, January 18, 2008
  21. ^ Extreme injustice The Guardian, January 24, 2008
  22. ^ Ingush public opinion expresses opposition to harassment of "Voice of Beslan" Prague Watchdog, January 16th 2008
  23. ^ Kesaeva is satisfied with transfer of the "Voice of Beslan" trial to North Ossetia[permanent dead link] Caucasian Knot, 15/1/2008
  24. ^ Voice of Beslan" asks Putin to stop prosecuting the organization Caucasian Knot, 11/1/2008
  25. ^ Kesaeva: "Voice of Beslan" cherishes no more illusions on Putin Caucasian Knot, 31/1/2008
  26. ^ Beslan mothers threaten to condemn Putin in court Reuters, Jan 15, 2008
  27. ^ Another case initiated against "Voice of Beslan" Caucasian Knot, 25/2/2008
  28. ^ Russian police summon Beslan siege campaigners Reuters, Feb 11, 2008

External links[edit]