On the occasion of the 57th Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights, Buddhist monk Junsei Terasawa is holding a fast for peace in Chechnya.
Fast for Peace
Appeal of the Fast for Peace in Chechnya
Support from the Chechnya Committee
Dear friends in peace,
Fast for Peace in Chechnya will begin in Geneva from 2nd
of April, Monday, and continue throughout the 57th Session of the UN Commission
on Human Rights. With prayer in fast, an interfaith group, initiated by buddhist
monks of Order Nipponzan Myohoji, calls for
- a peace process by the immediate start of dialogue between warring parties,
- a visit to Chechnya by an international interreligious peace mission,
- the urgent need for reducing of suffering of inner displaced population by immediate humanitarian aid.
Your support will be most appreciated in order to make this action effective. If you or your organisation can endorse this action or to send a letter of support and solidarity, we will publish them during our action, keeping you informed on farther development.
You can also support the initiative by disseminating this appeal through your network. We also welcome your any creative ideas or cooperation to bring peace in Chechnya.
With respect and appreciation,
Rev. Terasawa Junsei, initiator
of the Fast for Peace in Chechnya.
E-mail : email@example.com
c/o Mandat International :
tel (+41 22) 959 88 55
fax (+41 22) 959 88 51
FAST FOR PEACE
On the occasion of the 57th session of the UN Human Rights
Commission, an interfaith group will fast from 2nd of April onward, and pray
every day, from 9 am to 5pm at the broken chair in front of the Palais des Nations
or at the Japanese Peace Bell, just up the hill from the Place des Nations.
The fast aims to achieve:
1. The immediate start of a sustained dialogue for a political solution to the Chechen conflict ;
2. The sending of international inter-religious peace missions into Chechnya ;
3. Immediate humanitarian aid for the displaced people inside Chechnya.
Twice in the last 10 years of post-Soviet Russia, Chechnya has been turned into a killing field, and has become a lawless 'black hole' of rampage and revenge. Today's tragedy is not only for Chechen people, who are on the brink of annihilation as a nation, but also for the new-born democracy in Russia, and the prospects for a peaceful transition to a new post-Cold War world.
As the new millennium begins, Chechnya continues to burn
and bleed with disturbing signs of a possible clash of civilisations. Left in
chaos, after the sudden demise of the Soviet Union, the newly-independent states
have been struggling with the extremely difficult task of self-transformation
and nation-building. However, western nations have responded to this extraordinarily
complicated process without any clear policy, vision or insight. The Chechen
war is the most catastrophic feature of the negative cycles of the last 10 years
of post-Cold War transition. The international community, despite all its available
mechanisms, has done nothing to stop the repeated massacres, continued genocide
and gruesome war crimes committed throughout the Chechen wars. So far no political
assistance has been given from any part of the world to overcome this deadly
stalemate, and to help open a meaningful peace process. !
If the names Auschwitz and Hiroshima are reminders of the war crimes of the 20th century, today's Grozny and Chechnya will be the new century's shameful monuments to our collective guilt and indifference.
Through this fast we hope to provide a stimulus for some
small but concrete steps forward, bringing changes in attitudes both between
the warring parties, and in the world at large, which may contribute to finding
a way out of the stalemate. This fast is an act of prayer, recognising our limited
capacity but believing in the spiritual strength inherited by everyone. We pray
that this strength will bring change. We appeal to everyone to act to open the
path for peace in Chechnya.
Initiator: Rev. Junsei Terasawa, Buddhist monk.
Possible concrete actions:
1. Endorse or send a letter of support and solidarity.
2. Join the fast.
3. Write to your government to work for the 3 goals outlined above.
4. Write to President Putin, directly or via your nearest Russian Embassy, to accept the goals of the fast.
5. Urge the United Nations and other international bodies to support these goals.
6. Ask MPs to debate this issue in their parliament, and ask any organisation you belong to work for the realisation of these goals.
7. Raise your voice in the media on this issue.
8. Find out more about the situation in Chechnya. Go to:
Human Rights Watch www.hrw.org
Amnesty International www.amnesty.org
International Peace Bureau (see conflicts section) www.ipb.org
For timelines of key events in Chechnya, with links: http://www.infoplease.com/spot/chechnyatime1.html
Oral statement at the 57th Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights
Agenda Item 9, on the situation in Chechnya
Ven. Junsei Terasawa
My name is Junsei Terasawa, a Buddhist monk from Japan. I represent the International Peace Bureau.
As we enter the 3rd Millennium, we witness, with great
shock and pain, the destruction of the historical standing Buddha statues of
Bamian and many other wonderful masterpieces of Gandhara art. One cannot but
lament the eternal loss of those priceless spiritual treasures, the powerful
testimony to the golden epoch of the convergence of the different world civilizations
in Central Asia in the early first millennium.
It is not enough simply to deplore this destruction as an action endorsed by a certain theology and carried out with utter disregard for the feelings of the world's Buddhist population. This tragedy also adds another strong warning of the grotesque consequences of the vicious spiral of war and violence and prolonged human suffering and despair. Who should be blamed? who is responsible in the light of history for today's misery and the suffering of the whole population of Afganistan ?
As a Buddhist monk, I joined the Peace Camp set up at
the Iraq-Saudi border before the operation "Desert Storm". I walked
on the International Peace March on the West Bank. I initiated the Mothers'
March for Life and Compassion from Moscow to Grozny in the early stages of the
first Chechen war. Though I am a Buddhist, I acted in those Muslim countries
out of human solidarity with the victims of war and violence, particularly state
violence. I acted to express my opposition to the war and violence and my faith
and respect for the life and dignity of all persons.
Mr Chairman and delegates.
The right to peace and the right to life of every individual are the most fundamental human rights, to which no State is superior. However, all wars deny and continue to deny these most fundamental human rights.
Since the last session of the Commission, the situation in Chechnya has deteriorated. Grim evidence of successive war crimes continues to be uncovered from recently discovered mass graves. From my own experience and testimonies I heard in Chechnya, lawlesness and brutal negligence of international principles were present from the outset of the first Chechen war.
In the last 10 years of post-Soviet transition in Russia, Chechnya has twice become a killing-field of racial hatred and revenge. This war was politically designed as an act of national punishment, national persecution and ultimately, national extermination, with unrestricted violence against civilians. In the future history of this time, the ruins of Grozny and Chechnya may be remembered as a shameful monument to a 21st century Holocaust.
There have been many occasions and opportunities in which
world leaders and the international community could have expressed themselves
and acted differently to avert such a grave human tragedy in Chechnya. What
is at risk today is not only the democratic future of Russia, but a peaceful
post-Cold War world, as the tragic example of Afganistan so vividly demonstrates.
Criticism and condemnation of the conduct of States should be freely expresed by civil society. Such expressions can enhance democracy without reviving the Cold War. However, I have learned through my own experience that the Putin administration, in actions which recall the cold War period, is already reviving state repression and control against free expression of civil society. After I took the floor at the last Session of the Commission on Human Rights, within a month my visa application was denied. A recent letter from the Federal Security Service of Russia explains the reason of the denial as my "anti-Russian stance on Chechen issue".
Mr Chairman and delegates.
We all must be sincere in learning the painful lesson of the post- Cold War conflicts, that there can be no military solution, and that for the State to inflame human misery and suffering by military means only leads to further escalation and to a possible global clash among civilisations.
No-One was born a racist. Similarly, no one was born a
terrorist or an extremist. Since there can be no military solution, a radical
change in attitude is imperative if each side of the conflict is to come to
terms with the root of the conflict. You must work with courage and compassion
to overcome your fear and hatred, and embrace your shared destiny in peace and
A few of us, an inter-faith group, will begin a fast next
week in front of the Palais de Nations, calling for immediate dialogue, a cease-fire,
an international inter-faith peace mission to Chechenya, and urgent humanitarian
support for the vulnerable population in Chechenya.
I urge every member of the Commission to set in motion, within this session, a meaningful peace process in Chechenya. Thank you Mr Chairman.
Message of Support from the Chechnya Committee
The Chechnya Committees of France support the fast of the
interfaith group in front of the Palais des Nations. This initiative shows that
different religions can join in a message of peace, a lesson that appears to
be necessary in Chechnya today.
The Chechnya Committee of Paris also supports, as it has always done, the call for an immediate and effective dialogue aimed at a political solution to the Chechen conflict as well as the call for humanitarian aid for the displaced people of Chechnya. The democratically elected Chechen government has repeatedly made the same demands, and it is therefore up to the Russian State to accept them. Their fulfillment is absolutely necessary to end the war and massive human rights violations still going on in Chechnya today.
The Chechnya Committee of Strasbourg
The Chechnya Committee of Clermont-Ferrand
The Chechnya Committee of Paris
2 April 2001
on the Geneva Fast for Peace in Chechnya (9th April)
Dear friends in Peace.
The Fast for Peace in Chechnya has now entered its 2nd
week. As you may have read in the previous message one week ago, it started
in front of the Palais des Nations, Geneva, on Monday the 2nd of April, and
will continue throughout the 57th Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights.
Ven. Junsei Terasawa continues his fast assisted by two
monks from Russia and Ukraine. Members of the vigil were encouraged by visitors
through the past week, including:
Ms. Madina Magomadova, President of the "Mothers of Chechnya";
Ms. Tatyana Znachkova, member of the Committee of Soldiers' Mothers of Russia;
Mr. Umar Khanbiev, Minister of Health of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria;
Mr. Colin Archer, Secretary General of the International Peace Bureau;
Mr. Davis Arnott, Burma Peace Foundation
and many other individuals, who supported the action by their visits.
The Geneva Police authority only gave their permission
to perform the fast and vigil in front of the Palais des Nations (next to the
Broken Chair) every Monday. Therefore the prayer-vigil was continued during
the rest of the week in the garden of the Palais des Nations next to the building
of the UN Commission on Human Rights.
On 29t March, before entering the Fast, Ven. Terasawa delivered
his oral statement to the Commission on Human Rights under Agenda Item 9: "Questions
of the violation of Human Rights and fundamental freedoms in any part of the
world: situation in the Republic of Chechnya".
Participants of the Fast for Peace in Chechnya are very
much inspired by many letters of support from different organizations and individuals,
among whom are:
Canadian Islamic Congress;
"Mothers of Chechnya";
The American Committee for Peace in Chechnya;
The Chechnya Committee of Paris, Strasbourg, Clermont-Ferrand;
Boston Group Against Ethnic Cleansing;
Physicians for Human Rights;
Charity organization "Civil Assistance", Russia;
Ekaterinburg Jeepsy's national-cultural autonomy, Russia;
Movement Against Violence, Russia;
Women's organization "Vera, Nadezhda, Lyubov", Russia;
Kaluga migrants association, Russia;
Ms. Elena Bonner;
Mr. Ross Wilcock;
Ms. Cora Mateo;
Dr. Emilio Asti;
Ms. Ekaterine Goginava;
Dr. Ben Weaver
and others. Members of the Fast group are deeply grateful to everyone for their support.
As the Fast began, positive changes in the political climate
were generated by civil initiatives both in Russia and Chechnya:
The Russian All-national Committee "For ceasing war
and establishing peace in the Chechen Republic", founded in the beginning
of this year, made an appeal to President Putin and President Maskhadov, calling
for an immediate cease-fire and political dialogue. The appeal was signed by
prominent State Duma and Federal Council deputies, human right activists, writers
Chechen refugees organized the first Refugee Conference
in Nazran, Ingushetia and for the first time organized the Chechen Nation's
Salvation Committee, calling for political dialogue and promoting a mass non-violent
movement to end the Chechen war.
Recently the Chechen diaspora of Russia also organized
a conference in Moscow and adopted a resolution calling for political dialogue
between President Putin and President Maskhadov for a political solution of
the Chechen conflict.
"Radio Liberty" reported that on Saturday 7th
April the first mass rally took place in Grozny. The participants demanded the
peaceful negotiations between President Putin and President Maskhadov to immediately
end the war.
International politics, reflected at the 57th Session of
the UN Commission on Human Rights, clearly shows that the international community
has no political will to commit itself to working for a political solution to
the conflict. Rhetorical criticism of Human Rights abuses in Chechnya by Western
states was not accompanied by any concrete action to halt or reduce the ongoing
suffering of the Chechen people on the ground. It is crucially important, therefore,
that there should be concerted efforts by international civil society to support
and encourage the peace initiatives by people in Russia and in Chechnya. Only
the strength of people world-wide can bring real change to the situation.
During the first weeks of the Session, useful discussions
took place with representatives of "Memorial" and the Chechen Nation's
Salvation Committee who may jointly facilitate the reception of the international
inter-religious peace mission to Chechnya.
Next week is crucial because the EU may table a draft resolution on the situation in Chechnya
if it fails to negotiate a consensus Chairman's statement
Next week we will put out another update on our Geneva Fast for Peace in Chechnya
With respect and appreciation for your work for peace.
On behalf of the initiative group of the Fast,
Rev. Junsei Terasawa