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Chechnya – Letter to First Lady Hillary Clinton on Chechnya PDF Print E-mail

AN APPEAL TO THE FIRST LADY

February 19, 1995
First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton,
The White House,
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20500.

Dear First Lady,

For the last month or so, I have been wondering to write you a letter concerning a matter of great human tragedy, but could not muster enough courage to do so till today. It is hoped that your staff will be generous and kind enough to present this letter to you for reading and for your favorable comments, consideration and action.

In the entire history of this world, no one country has ever attained such tremendous  power as the United States of America. In fact its nuclear potential is so enormous that, if it wishes, it can possibly destroy the whole world with the push of a button. The person who has the sole authority to push that button is the President of the United States. Such awesome power, with tremendous responsibility, is bestowed by God Almighty on only a few blessed human-beings. However, the President must use this power with great care, because in addition to being the military leader of his country, he is also the Human Rights and Moral Values champion in the world. That is why when any human tragedy occurs in a country, the top leaders and people of the world look up to him for help and guidance, and expect him to assume the leadership role and solve the problem.

At present, a tragedy of historic proportions is occurring in Chechnya. It has the potential to bring, once again, shame to the Western Democracies of the world. As the Moral Leader of the world, the President of the United States has an extraordinary responsibility to take an immediate action to nip the Russian evil in the bud. It has been proven again and again  that if an early and swift action had been taken in the early stages of previous human conflicts, many human tragedies and sufferings could have been avoided. For example, when Hitler was killing the Jews in Europe's concentration camps, the world kept silent till it was too late for the innocent millions who perished. When Serbs were ethnically cleansing and killing the Muslims in Bosnia, the western democracies kept silent and did very little to come to the aid of the victims of the naked aggression. If an early action would have been taken to stop the slaughter by the Serbs, the Bosnian genocide would have not occurred. Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Holocaust Museum in Washington (in the presence of President Clinton), The Noble Peace Prize winner Mr. Elie Wiesel said " NOT AGAIN. Mr. President, please do something to stop the ethnic cleansing and the slaughter in Bosnia". Margaret Thatcher spoke strongly about the shameful silence of the Western Leadership; and the Late President Nixon said that the civilized world would not have permitted the massacres if the Bosnians were Christians or Jews. And now once more, the Russians have started killing the innocent Chechens in a similar fashion as before, but the world is silent once again. It does not matter if the victims of these tragedies are Christians, Jews or Muslims, after all they are all human-beings. Is that the way  for the civilized world to behave again and again? Why? If no action is taken now in Chechnya to bring a quick end to the Russian madness, this tragedy will continue for a long period of time with mounting human sufferings for both Chechens and Russians.

This appeal to President Clinton for help and positive action in Chechnya is being submitted to the First Lady so that she can talk to her beloved and God-fearing husband and our President in a serene and private atmosphere of the White House. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, the First Lady is the best and the most trusted friend of the President. Since the interview on Sixty Minutes Program on CBS during 1992 election year, I have watched with great admiration the clear, honest and firm thinking mind of the First Lady. The devotional enthusiasm, the decency, the regal grace and dignity which the First Lady has shown in trying to work hard and solve the noble but very complex Health-Care problem for the country is legendary and truly remarkable. Rather than giving credit to the First Lady for the pioneering and voluntary work performed, the ungrateful politicians blamed the messenger and not the message. The Americans should be rightly proud of this remarkable and extremely intelligent and decent First Lady. Secondly, the First Lady being a mother herself can easily identify with the cries and pain the Chechen and Russian mothers are suffering due to the loss of their sons in the war. Enclosed are a few  photocopies of the clippings from a local newspaper showing the diverse views of Russian and Chechen mothers concerning the carnage in Chechnya. While Russian mothers are protesting the illegal and unconstitutional war and the slaughter by traveling to the war zone to yank their sons from army units, the Chechen mothers on the other hand show painful but determined faces and are willing to send their sons to fight and defend their land and the freedom. This is a thought provoking sight for every mother and world leader to see, and figure out the clear meaning of who is RIGHT and who is WRONG, and ultimately who will Win and who will lose. Mother's pain and cries have far reaching effect on the human conscience. Will any civilized leader let the cries of mothers go in vain, once again?   

Dear First Lady, before December 11, 1994, I had not even heard of the tiny republic of Chechnya, and till today I have not met a single Chechen man or woman. All that I know about Chechnya is from reading newspapers and watching news on television. But as a human-being, I have been deeply moved, stunned and horrified to watch on television  the dead bodies of innocent civilians and the terrible destruction created by the might of a powerful super power on a tiny nation. On one hand you can see the bravery and freedom spirit of the Chechens and on the other hand the savage brutality of the Russian armed forces. Such a powerful country as Russia unleashing such brutality on innocent civilians reminds one of the barbaric nature of the Russian regime. If Russia considers Chechnya as a part of their country, then, is that the way a civilized country kills and treats his citizens? Without any warning or declaration of war, Russians launched their naked Hitler-type aggression on Grozny with all sorts of weapons - air bombs, missiles, rockets, tanks, helicopter gun-ships, artillery, etc.- in fact the only thing that they have not used is an Atom Bomb. By the latest news account , the Russians have totally leveled Grozny, and in the process have slaughtered over 27,000 innocent civilians in Grozny alone. And now, they are continuing their terror and brutality on civilian homes in small towns in the south by  letting lose their OMON (KGB)squads. It appears that either Yeltsin has gone crazy or he is under the grip of a few anti-democratic hard-liners and ultra-nationalists who are pushing him towards destroying the very democratic principles that he originally set out to protect. Is anyone mixing something in his drinks that he is gradually losing control of his mental faculties shown by his strange behavior lately, or is he the crooked politician who wants to win the 1996 elections by appearing very strong and blood-thirsty? Is that the way the leader of such a big country should behave?

Three years ago, the entire Chechen people elected freely to make Chechnya an independent nation, just like many other non-Russian republics of the former Soviet Union. Chechens and the people of Caucuses deserve freedom and independence  more than any other people in the world. These people have been fighting for their freedom for the last four centuries, long before many current independent nations had ever heard of the word Freedom. I am sure that you are aware of their previous history and struggle for  freedom. For about three centuries, the Czars suppressed and brutalized these freedom-loving  people. In 1944, Stalin did the most inhuman thing of loading the entire  population of the region on cattle trucks and expelled them to Siberia where nearly one third of the Chechens died in labor /concentration camps. In 1965, the remaining Chechens were allowed back to the region. (Attached is a picture of an old Chechen fighter- a possible survivor of the Siberian death camps - now fighting again for his freedom). And now Mr. Yeltsin wants to join the list of the previous Russian barbarians.

President Clinton has supported and helped his friend Mr. Yeltsin many times in the past in order to encourage him to bring Russia into the community of civilized  nations. But by his brutal operation in Chechnya, Mr. Yeltsin has nearly destroyed all the democratic work that he had done since the Tank Episode, and has embarrassed his friends and allies. In Moscow, representatives of many groups (Human rights activists, Soldier's mothers, Council of servicemen's parents, several Generals, and Democratic Politicians) have demanded peace talks with Chechnya, and an immediate end of the illegal war. But there is no effect on Mr. Yeltsin and his communist militants who still believe in the evil ideas of forcible suppression, and have no regard for democratic principles. Mr. Nixon writes in Beyond Peace, "evil ideas inevitably fail because they are fundamentally at odds with human nature, but until they fail, they can do enormous damage to humanity." Dear First Lady, something must be done soon to end the human suffering in Chechnya.  

The current uncertain situation in Russia has created a new opportunity for President Clinton to show his leadership and persuasive qualities. Mr. Yeltsin wants President Clinton to attend in May a 50th anniversary celebration of Allies' victory over Germany in World War II. Many of the President's aides are against the May summit, in order to show disapproval of Russia's brutal operation in Chechnya, and this appears to be an appropriate response. However, I think that the President will be well advised if he attends the ceremonies because nearly twenty million brave Russians lost their lives to defend their land and freedom, and defeated the Nazi barbarians. Their sacrifice deserves recognition and the President's participation will be an act of decency and grace. President Clinton can use this opportunity to talk face to face with Mr. Yeltsin and persuade him  back to a path of human decency and democracy. Chechens wishes should be respected and an immediate peace dialogue must be started with their leadership toward the granting of a low key independence. Mr. Yeltsin must be convinced that he should now declare his victory and pull out his forces from Chechnya, arrange free elections that would be monitored by international observers, let Chechens go free, retire after his office term ends in 1996, and the history will remember him as a true Democrat. It is good for Russia and Mr. Yeltsin,  it will be good for Chechnya, and it should bring peace in the region after centuries of sufferings. If  Mr. Yeltsin is a truly changed democrat, he will listen to the advice of his True Friend, President Clinton. Otherwise Mr. Yeltsin will prove himself to be a hard-core communist, and should not be trusted any further again. The advice should be simple, firm and polite, but no lecture should be given on Democracy. There should be absolutely no question in any body's mind that sooner or later Chechnya will be free. Because of superior power, Russia will have few victories but eventually will lose the war, because history tells us that Chechen's hunger for freedom and independence can never be defeated or destroyed.  Inspite of so much nuclear power, Americans and Russians could not win in Vietnam and Afghanistan. If they wanted , they could have destroyed the two countries but they did not because they knew that they were morally wrong in those wars. Same will be true in Chechnya. If Russians do not stop now, the Chechens will start their Guerrilla warfare and the sufferings will continue for all. They will become freedom-fighters. Russians will call them terrorists but the decent and honest human-beings of the Democratic countries will know who the true terrorists are. It is good to know that Chechens have declared that they will not target the civilians, but will hit the military and economic targets. Russians cannot fully defend the big oil pipelines going through the Caucuses, but the Chechens can. Only the smart people learn from their mistakes and from the lessons of history, the stupid continue to make the same mistake again and again, and cause unnecessary sufferings for so many innocent people. What a shame.

As a simple human-being, I have been deeply touched by the Chechen's  bravery and strong will to free themselves from the clutches of communism. When the similar thing happened in Bosnia, most of us did very little. But now I think that every peace-loving person in the world should at least raise a voice, and ask for help from those who can make a difference and reduce the human sufferings. In a very sincere and  honest way,  I have tried to put the Chechen case before you for consideration. Most respectfully, I would request the First Lady to please plead the Chechen cause with our President. I know that the President has tremendous power to persuade Mr. Yeltsin to change the course in Chechnya. Chechens neither want any American soldier to go to Chechnya to help them in their struggle for freedom, nor they want any arms. Chechens only want, and deserve, the MORAL help from the President to solve this problem. If the President is successful in this noble endeavor, then I am sure the President's name will forever remain enshrined in the hearts and minds of all freedom loving people of the world, including one billion Muslims. God Almighty will reward the President  for this act of kindness, fairness, and human decency. We should all pray for his success in this noble mission.

May the First Family always receive God's blessings, good health and happiness. Thank you very much for your kindness and consideration.

Your sincerely,

 

 

Mr. M. Khaliq Qureshi
1317 Shamrock Lane
Plano, Texas 75093
(214) 380-5106  

 
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