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The North Caucasian Diaspora In Turkey

Publisher WRITENET
Author Egbert Wessenlink
Publication Date 1 May 1996
Cite as WRITENET, The North Caucasian Diaspora In Turkey, 1 May 1996, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6a6bc8.html [accessed 25 April 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

The Abkhazians living in Turkey have preserved very well the customs, languages and dances carried there from Abkhazia by their ancestors. The etiquette of the Abkhazians [apswara] is strictly observed. Of late they have been asking us to send them copies of the alphabet, books, teaching manuals, films on Abkhazia, recording of songs, language-primers. In hundreds of letters sent to the homeland there resounds a passionate longing to become acquainted with the life and culture of the Abkhazians residing in the motherland, and we believe that the time will soon come when many of them, setting foot on soil of their forebears, will say: 'Greetings, our father Caucasus, greetings, our mother Apsne!'[1]

1. INTRODUCTION

In 1989, when the conflict between Abkhazia and the central government of Georgia began, the Abkhaz[2] formed only a 17.8 per cent minority in Abkhazia.[3] In August 1990, the Supreme Soviet of the Abkhazian Autonomous Republic, with most of its ethnic Georgian members absent, declared independence. The Abkhaz nationalists took the lead in this process, supported by most other ethnically non-Georgian groups.[4]

Their demographic weakness was a major concern for the Abkhaz national movement. To secure ethnic survival, independence from Georgia and a change in the republic's ethnic balance was considered desirable. Remigration of the Abkhaz diaspora became a cherished goal of the separatist government of Abkhazia, and a source of concern for ethnic Georgians in Abkhazia.[5]

The vast majority of the North Caucasian diaspora, several millions of people, lives in Turkey and the wars in the Caucasus have strongly enhanced national feelings among them. They identify with the cause of the Abkhaz and the Chechens. When the wars broke out, meetings were held, solidarity committees were established, money was collected, and volunteers joined the separatist armed forces. These activities met with a great degree of sympathy among the Turkish public. At present, Chechen flags and portraits of Dzokhar Dudayev can be seen all over Turkey, and money is collected at virtually every bus station.[6]

There exists a great deal of speculation about the significance of the diaspora's contribution to Abkhazia and Chechnya, but the extent of their efforts needs yet to be investigated. This paper offers a short introduction to the North Caucasian diaspora in Turkey. It is based on interviews and publicly available sources. There has been no research done in Turkey and the Caucasus region, which makes it far from comprehensive.

2. SOME BASIC FACTS

2.1 Semantics

There are over 40 North Caucasian peoples. Linguistically, they can be divided into the indigenous Northwest Caucasians, North Central Caucasians, Dagestanians/Northeast Caucasians, and a variety of non-indigenous peoples. The Northwest Caucasians consist of three groups: Circassians, Ubykhs and Abkhaz-Abazinians. The Circassians are further subdivided into the western tribes of Shapsughs, Bzhedugs, Temirgoys and Abzakhs - together known as Adyghe - and the eastern Besleneys and Kabardians.[7] The Northeast Caucasians consist of the Ingush, the Chechens, and the Dagestani peoples, of which the Avars, Dargins, and Lezgins are the most important. Ethnically unrelated to these peoples, but also regarded as North Caucasian because of their age-old presence in the region are i.a. the Kumyks and the North Central Caucasian peoples, the Karachai and Balkars, who speak Turkic languages, and the Ossetians, who are linguistically of Iranian pedigree.[8]

In Turkey, the word "Cherkess", Russian for Circassian, is used to designate any North-Caucasian. Neither the state administration nor the average Turkish citizen usually distinguishes between the different North Caucasian peoples. The North Caucasians themselves do not object to this practice. They often use the word Circassian/Cherkess for all Northwest Caucasians and are conscious of the fact that they all share a common heritage. Circassians usually call themselves Adyghe.[9] The identity of North Caucasians generally includes awareness of the name and precise location of their ancestors' villages.[10]

2.2 Population

The demographic data provided by the Turkish census do not categorize the North Caucasians separately. Turkish law reserves the status of national minority to non-Muslim peoples only. The Turkish census does include a category "mother tongue", though. Unfortunately, pressure to register as a Turkish speaker seems to have influenced the available statistics. State functionaries have allegedly falsified data in order to increase the ratio of Turkish speakers.[11] The 1960 census gave only 63,000 North Caucasian speakers.[12] The 1965 census found 58,339 persons speaking Circassian as their mother tongue and 55,030 as a second language.[13]

Current estimates of the number of North Caucasians in Turkey range from one to six million, depending on the sources used. The North Caucasian organizations usually claim three million or more. The vast majority of them are Circassian.[14] Estimates of the number of Abkhaz in Turkey range from 30,000 up to 300,000.[15]

The fact that figures on the North Caucasian diaspora can differ widely is not only due to bias or flawed statistics, but also to differences of perception. Many people of North Caucasian descent have a mixed ethnic identity as a result of assimilation and intermarriage.[16]

2.3 Geography

The North Caucasians in Turkey originally lived in dispersed settlements, mostly in Western and Central Anatolia. The percentage of North Caucasians that live in rural communities has rapidly decreased over the past 25 years, due to urbanization and emigration. Estimates by diaspora organizations suggest that in 1995, 60 per cent of the North Caucasians in Turkey lived in cities. Outside the three main centres Ankara, Istanbul and Samsun, there are organized communities in Adana, Adapazari, Antalya, Ayancik, Balikesir, Bandirma, Burhaniye, Bursa, Çorum, Denizli, Duzce, Erbaa, Eskiehir, Gaziantep, Gönem, Izmir, Izmit, Kahramanmara, Kars, Kayseri, Konya, Ladik, Mersin, Orhangazi, Reyhanli, arkila, Sincan, Sinop, Sivas, Soma, Sungurlu, Susurluk, Tufanbeyli, and Yalova.[17]

North Caucasians are well represented among Turkish guest-workers in Western Europe. Their organizations lack unity, not unlike their parent organizations in Turkey.[18]

2.4 Language

Minority languages in Turkey have been eroded by urbanization, and by the fact that education and the mass-media are all in Turkish language only. Publishing in another language is forbidden under Law No. 2932 of 19 November 1983.[19] It is not uncommon for children to be forbidden to speak a language other than Turkish at school.[20]

All members of the diaspora speak Turkish; for most of them it is their first language. Only in isolated rural areas have they fully preserved their own language and cultural identity. Urbanized North Caucasians quickly adopt Turkish language and customs and among the urbanized youth, knowledge of the language of origin is exceptional.[21] In some cases, internal assimilation has taken place, as in the case of the Ubykh, who quickly adopted the language of the Circassian majority around them.[22]

In the North Caucasus itself the different ethnic groups have generally preserved their own languages, with the exception of the Abkhaz. Urbanized Abkhaz have often been Russified.[23]

During its de facto independence from 1991 to 1994, Chechnya established a rich variety of contacts with the North Caucasian diaspora, including provision of language schools for Turkish Chechens. A Chechen-Turkish College was established in Grozny and hundreds of Chechens enrolled in Turkish, Jordanian, Syrian, and Egyptian universities.[24]

2.5 Religion

Christian Georgians and Christian Abkhaz cannot live together, but Christian Abkhaz and Muslim Adyghe can! Nowadays, people can no longer be judged on religious grounds. Everyone who wants to become one with the motherland can overcome the religious problem. The motherland wants us to return to overcome the population shortage.[25]

The indigenous populations of the North Caucasus are Muslim, with the exception of the Abkhaz and the Ossetians who are, with few exceptions, Christian. While Islam is of great importance for the social life and ethnic identity of the Northeast Caucasians, religion is a marginal social factor in North Ossetia and in the Northwest Caucasus, including Abkhazia.[26]

The North Caucasian diaspora is entirely Muslim, including its Abkhaz and Ossetian members. Within the North Caucasian diaspora it is generally presumed that they were deported from Russia because of their religion. Islam forms an integral part of their identity and has historically been an important motive for their loyalty to the Turkish state.[27]

It came as a shock to members of the diaspora to find out in the late 1980s that the Abkhaz in the homeland were Christian Orthodox, if religious at all, and that the other Northwest Caucasian peoples, though officially Muslim, had no interest in religious teaching. Religious radicals within the diaspora community even proposed to cut contacts with the Abkhaz for this reason.[28] In reaction, the Government of Abkhazia has undertaken to construct a mosque in Sukhumi to satisfy the religious needs of members of the diaspora.[29]

3. A SHORT HISTORY OF THE NORTH CAUCASIAN DIASPORA IN TURKEY

3.1 The Exodus

After a long and cruel war against the Russian Empire, the Northeast Caucasians were defeated in 1858, and the Northwest Caucasians in 1864. On 14 April 1864 a victorious Prince Mikhael met with the leaders of the Adyghe tribes in Sochi and told them to leave the high mountains and settle in the plains. Those who refused were ordered to leave the Russian Empire within one month, or otherwise be considered prisoners of war. Panic followed and many listened to promises of peace and wealth in the Ottoman Empire. All of the Ubykhs, the majority of the Circassians, and very many Abkhaz left for the Ottoman Empire.[30] In the Northern Caucasus, their lands were taken by Slavs, in Abkhazia by Georgians, Armenians and Greeks. Emigration of North Caucasians even continued after the establishment of the Bolshevik regime in the Soviet Union. The Northwest Caucasian peoples became minorities in their native lands.[31] The number of North Caucasians who left for the Ottoman Empire between 1859 and 1881 is estimated at two million. Conditions were extremely bad and possibly 20 per cent of them died of malnutrition and disease. Another half million migrated between 1881 and 1914.[32]

The North Caucasian refugees were used by the Ottoman Government to strengthen its grip on the empire. In Asia Minor, they were resettled in regions where the Government had only limited authority, where Muslims formed a minority, or where unrest had broken out. It was government policy to allow only one North Caucasian family for each four Turkish families.[33] The refugees were dispersed over the Empire for fear of their militant character and many were brought to Syria, Palestine and the Balkans. The latter group was forced to resettle in Asia Minor after the 1878 Berlin Treaty forbade their presence in the European parts of the Ottoman Empire.[34]

The emigration was a disaster for the North Caucasian peoples. Usually, they were resettled on poor land and they often had to fight for possession of the land that had been allocated to them. The Ubykh nation disappeared entirely. The last Ubykh speaker, Tevfik Esenç, died in Turkey in October 1992.[35] The disappearance of the Ubykh has made a great impression on the North Caucasians, reviving memories of the 19th century genocide and strengthening the consequent desire for political independence.[36]

4. ASSIMILATION AND ORGANIZATION

4.1 General

Since the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey in 1918, minorities have been subjected to a strong turkification policy. Under the "Surname Law", minorities are obliged to adopt Turkish names with the result that only a few North Caucasians in Turkey still bear their ancestral names. Use of North Caucasian languages is still actively discouraged.[37]

In rural areas opposition to assimilation is strongest and there are hundreds of local North Caucasian cultural centres and organizations. Here, North Caucasian traditions are still generally respected and there is still strong pressure to marry inside the group.[38] Half of the North Caucasians in Turkey are believed to be fully assimilated, while at the same time being aware of their ancestry.[39] The popular view of ethnicity is quite realistic in Turkey. People identify their neighbours as Cherkess, Tatars, Kurds etc. with little tension arising.[40]

North Caucasians are generally respected in Turkish society. They are not victims of prejudice, there are no complaints about discrimination against them and they are well represented in high state functions. To name just one of the many examples, during the 1980s, the President of the General Staff, at the time one of the most powerful positions in the country, was an ethnic Chechen, DoZan Güre. He regularly attended North Caucasian cultural events.[41]

The North Caucasian organizations in Turkey are still mainly active in the cultural field.[42] They are subject to numerous legal and political restrictions. The 1938 Turkish Law on Associations does not permit associations to carry out political activity. Furthermore, Turkish law prohibits political parties based on ethnicity. Permission must be asked for large gatherings, while major events in Turkey are usually closely monitored by the authorities.[43]

Many organizations are legally insecure and can be closed down on the orders of the local police or municipality. Those that have managed to obtain the status of foundation (vakif) are better protected by law. A vakif must have an educational or social purpose and possess a minimum amount of capital.

There is a wide proliferation of organizations as a result of the geographic dispersal and ethnic division of the North Caucasian diaspora. The weakness that this division brings about is realized, but has as yet not resulted in effective unification or centralization. The older generation dominates the governing bodies of the organizations. The issue of leadership is another factor that has kept the North Caucasians divided. During meetings at the end of 1992, the organizations in Ankara and Istanbul both demanded that the seat of any central body must be in their own city. Another major obstacle is the abundance of candidates for leadership.[44]

4.2 North Caucasian Organizations 1864-1950

While most North Caucasians settled in the country, the social and intellectual elites opted for Constantinopel. They generally identified with the Turkish state, the Muslim hereditary enemy of Russia, and encountered no difficulty integrating. With the adoption of the Turkish Constitution of 1908, the North Caucasians obtained a number of important civil rights. They played an important role in the young republic. North Caucasian organizations flourished. The most prominent of them was the Çerkess Ittihad ve Teavun Cemiyeti (Circassian Union and Aid Association), 1908-1923. The main Circassian newspaper was Çerkes Yardimlama DerneZi.[45]

The proclamation of the Republic of Turkey in 1918 brought a sharp regression to the social and political life of the North Caucasians, partially due to the Circass Ethem event. Circass Ethem was a celebrated army officer, an ethnic œhapsugh from Balikesir, who became a national hero during the First World War and played an important role in the suppression of the Bolu, Dünzce and Yozgat riots of 1919. He wielded considerable military power through his units, which showed great personal loyalty to him. After the war he ran into political difficulties with the Governor of Yozgat and eventually refused to acknowledge the authority of Kemal Atatürk. He was officially declared a traitor in 1920 and fled to Greece. His case was used by the Government of Turkey to discredit North Caucasians.[46] A number of villages in Balikesir were cleared of North Caucasians and the state developed a turkification policy for North Caucasians.[47]

In 1923 it became a official Government policy to promote Turkish identity and a sense of national unity among the ethnically heterogenous population. As a result, most North Caucasian organizations were abolished, their schools were closed and their publications were prohibited. Only organizations stating that they represented North Caucasian Turks were allowed to continue to operate. They were strongly anti-communist and supported the idea of Turkey as the new homeland.[48]

After the Second World War, the restrictions on cultural activities were slowly modified. In the early 1950s there were over 30 registered North Caucasian associations, where North Caucasian history, culture, language, dance and customs were taught to the younger generation. A North Caucasian intelligentsia was emerging, keen on its ethnic identity.

4.3 North Caucasian Organizations 1950-1989

The organizations that came to the fore in the 1950s tried to unify the North Caucasian peoples in Turkey in an effort to counter assimilation tendencies. This failed because of the heterogeneity of the North Caucasian peoples and because it contradicted the state's policy to build a Turkish identity for all citizens.[49]

Gradually, political opinion within the North Caucasian diaspora started mirroring the political divisions within Turkish society. During the late 1960s, a leftist, pro-Arab and anti-Western current emerged that pointed to the fact that under communism, the North Caucasians were allowed a degree of self-rule and that they could study their own history and languages. They rejected the concept of Turkey as the new homeland and revived the repatriation ideal. They criticized the cultural and political pressures that North Caucasians faced in Turkey and praised the practice of local self rule and the official support for North Caucasian culture in the Soviet Union.[50]

The young radicals failed to impress the assimilated urban groups or the rural majority and many North Caucasians continued to call themselves Turks rather than Circassians. Circulation of the publications of the urban elite was limited and most village dwellers remained only dimly aware of developments in the North Caucasus.[51] But among the growing North Caucasian communities in the cities their ideas found numerous followers. The leftist tradition is still strong in the cities. In their publications, the downfall of the Soviet Union is depicted as an American triumph, and the ensuing Caucasian wars as consequences of the introduction of capitalism.[52]

The slow democratization process in Turkey which had started in the 1960s opened the way for a renaissance of North Caucasian organizations. The associations often had a small library, organized festivities and lectures, and housed a folklore dance group.[53] Usually they had very limited financial means and lacked any political programme.[54]

Like all of the civic society in Turkey, all North Caucasian organizations were closed down after the military coup of 1980. They re-emerged in the late 1980s. By then, Islamist ideas added new divisions to the North Caucasian diaspora, although efforts to establish Islamist North Caucasian organizations have so far been unsuccessful. However, there exists an Islamist North Caucasian periodical which is published in Kayseri.[55]

4.4 North Caucasian Organizations 1989-1996

Until the late 1980s, the activities of North Caucasian organizations had essentially been aimed at fostering ethnic cohesion and countering turkification.[56] The perestroïka policy of the Soviet Union made it possible for the diaspora to visit the land of their ancestors and to invite scholars and political activists from the North Caucasus. They toured to lecture on history and language and generated great enthusiasm for the national cause in the homeland.[57] Periodicals in Turkey started to publish contributions by intellectuals from the North Caucasus. In 1991 a Turkish-Adyghe dictionary was published in Maikop, Adyghea.[58]

Links were established between cities in the North Caucasus and Turkish cities with sizeable North Caucasian populations.[59] Previously, the smaller North Caucasian ethnic groups like the Abkhaz, the Dagestanis, the Karachai, the Balkars and the Chechens had usually joined the larger Circassian organizations, but now each ethnic group started to interact with the corresponding republic. Therefore a great number of local new organizations were established along ethnic lines.[60] Groups of young Caucasians started to proclaim their non-Turkic identity and protested loudly against decades of national suppression in Russia and in Turkey. They objected to the non-political and careful attitude of the elder generation.[61] Right-wing North Caucasian organizations developed the ideal of setting up an Islamic North Caucasian society in a secular free-market North Caucasia.[62]

One of the turning points in the North Caucasian revival was the 1989 Kafkas Kültür DerneZi congress in Ankara to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the 1864 exodus. A large number of politicians and activists from outside Turkey participated. Contacts were established which boosted the level of activity and led to many institutionalized links between the diaspora and the North Caucasus.[63]

In November 1987 a local coordinating body had been established in Ankara, the Kafkas Kültür DerneZi.[64] The wish to streamline efforts in support of the Abkhazian and Chechen separatist movements led to attempts to unite the diaspora. On 18 October 1990, Kafkas Kültür DerneZi became a coordinating body for eleven Northwest Caucasian organizations. One of its purposes was to stimulate remigration through the establishment of contacts with republics in the North Caucasus and assistance to returnees.[65] A further expansion took place in October 1992 in Ankara, when a meeting organized by Kafkas Kültür DerneZi of 20 North Caucasian associations established a federative body, the Kafkas DerneZi (Kaf-Der), with 23 branches, which replaced the Kafkas Kültür DerneZi.[66] This is at present the main North Caucasian organ at a national level, dominated by Northwest Caucasians.[67]

To the ethnic and regional diversity of the diaspora is at present added the division between groups that favour orientation towards Turkey and those who focus on developments in the North Caucasus. On 6 June 1992, a revolution took place within the Ankara branch of Kafkas DerneZi. For the first time there were competing candidates for the election of the association's governing body. The opposition advocated closer cooperation with the Turkish authorities, but was defeated by the group that wanted greater focus on developments in the North Caucasus, an active repatriation policy and establishment of relations with the North Caucasian diaspora outside Turkey.[68]

Kaf-Der is sometimes at odds with the richer Birleik Kafkaseyi Konseyi, the two Dostluk Klubü DerneZi organizations and œamil EZitim ve Kültür Vakfi. The latter organizations are dominated by businessmen and do not actively oppose assimilation. They believe that the North Caucasian cause is best defended through loyalty to Turkey, while within the Kaf-Der it is widely believed that Turkish ethnic chauvinism, being official state policy, constitutes a major problem for the North Caucasians, and that Turkey, because of its friendly relations with Georgia and Russia, is partly responsible for an on-going genocidal war on Abkhazians and Chechens.[69] Kaf-Der strongly supports the struggle for independence of Abkhazia and Chechnya.[70] Officially, Kaf-Der is a politically neutral, cultural body, but it counts among its members a number of well known activists with leftist opinions.[71] Its 1995-96 programme includes facilitating economic links with the North Caucasus and initiating exchange programmes for students.[72]

The divisions within the North Caucasian community are not only a source of weakness, but also a sign of vitality. Encouraged by massive sympathy among the Turkish public for the Chechen resistance against Russia, the diaspora organizations have rediscovered their raison d'être and they attract increasing numbers of assimilated North Caucasians who used to show little interest in the North Caucasus. Unfortunately, it has not been possible to find reliable information about current membership of North Caucasian organizations.

The renaissance of the ethnic identity of the North Caucasians in Turkey is not reflected in a campaign for minority rights. Some radicals have started demanding Caucasian language education and activists have started using their original family names, but they did not win over any of the major organizations.[73]

4.5 The International Dimension

The North Caucasian communities in the Middle East are relatively strong. In Jordan there is a Circassian community of about 95,000, mostly Kabardian and Adyghe, but also including about 15,000 Chechens. In Syria, the Circassian community counts over 110,000. There is also a small Circassian community in Israel, mostly ethnically Shapsugh, and a community of 1,500 in Iraq. During the war with Iran in the 1980s, the Iraqi Army counted eight Chechen generals among its ranks.[74] Only Jordan and Israel permit Circassian language schools. In all these countries the Circassians are relatively well represented among the professional military and in the public service. They generally combine identification with the fate of their peoples in the North Caucasus with loyalty to their country of residence.[75]

Due to the well disposed attitude of their countries of residence, the Circassians in the Middle East have generally preserved their language and many of their customs. Most of them marry within their own ethnic group.[76] In the Jordanian parliament, there are three seats reserved for North Caucasians, two for Circassians and one for a Chechen. The current Chechen deputy is considered to be aligned with the pro-Moscow government in Grozny, while one of the Circassians, Mrs. Tujan Feisal, has been appointed spokeswoman for Dudayev. She organises support meetings for Chechnya and coordinates relief efforts.[77]

The breaking up of the Soviet Union led to the establishment of an international North Caucasian body. On 19-20 May 1991, the Kafkas Kültür Dernegi represented the Circassian and Abkhaz diaspora in Turkey at the All-Circassian Congress in Nalchik, Kabardino-Balkaria. During the congress, the All-Circassian World Federation was founded, later to be called the International Adyghe and Abkhaz Federation.[78] At present the Federation, of which Kaf-Der is a member, is based in Maikop, Adyghea. The purpose of the organization is to foster solidarity among Circassians of the diaspora and in the mother country and to assist in remigration.[79] All the major organizations of the Circassian diaspora are members of the Association. Its first president, Yuri Kalmykov, a Kabardian, was the Justice Minister of the Russian Federation, but resigned on 8 December 1994 in protest at the decision to attack Chechnya.[80] The Federation is a member of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization in The Hague.

5. THE NORTH CAUCASIAN DIASPORA AND THE WARS IN ABKHAZIA AND CHECHNYA

The wars in the Caucasus have brought a reawakening of our national identity, but also new anxieties: feelings of helplessness and weakness because we cannot influence these wars that take place within the borders of other states. [Süleyman Yançatarol].[81]

5.1 The War in Abkhazia

The demise of the Soviet Union in December 1991 was preceded by the emergence of vicious forms of national chauvinism. As early as 1988, the leading Georgian nationalist Zviad Gamsachurdia used alleged discrimination against Georgians in Abkhazia as a focus of his political campaign. He argued that the Abkhaz national identity was an artificial construction, an instrument in the hands of Russian imperialism. Many Abkhazians regarded the breaking apart of the Soviet Union as a chance to undo what they regarded as the annexation of Abkhazia by the Socialist Soviet Republic of Georgia in 1931. Tension between separatists and Georgian nationalists escalated, and in July 1989 twenty people died during inter-ethnic clashes in the capital of Abkhazia, Sukhumi.[82]

On 28 October 1989, Zviad Gamsachurdia became the leader of Georgia. On 9 March 1990, Georgian independence was declared. The new Government of Georgia adopted a series of measures that minorities considered serious infringements of their rights.[83] In August 1990, the Supreme Soviet of the Abkhazian Autonomous Republic, with its ethnic Georgian members absent, declared national sovereignty. From that moment on, Abkhazia acted as an independent country.[84]

The Government of Abkhazia devoted much attention to its relations with other North Caucasian peoples. They organized cultural manifestations that generated great enthusiasm among North Caucasian peoples in Russia and in the diaspora.[85] The foreign policy of Abkhazia was based on friendship with the Soviet Union, later the Russian Federation, and the bolstering of the Abkhazian nationality. The latter was to be achieved i.a. by mobilizing the potential of the Abkhaz diaspora.[86]

On 14 August 1992 Georgian troops invaded Abkhazia. Tens of thousands of Abkhaz, Russians, Armenians and Greeks had to flee before the ill-disciplined Georgian forces. Initially, the Georgians were victorious, but after their failure to capture Gagra in early September 1992, the tide turned. Irregular troops from the North Caucasus came to the aid of the separatists. The Russian army allegedly helped Abkhazia with weapons, air support and occasional military operations. The Georgian forces were ousted from Abkhazia in September 1993. The Abkhazian advance led to a massive exodus of ethnic Georgians from Abkhazia. Both parties to the conflict have been accused of systematic violation of human rights.[87]

The Abkhaz desire for independence was partly driven by fear of extinction. As a result of the 19th century exodus and Russian and Georgian migration politics, the proportion of Abkhaz in Abkhazia had dropped from almost 100 per cent in 1864 to 18 only per cent in 1989.[88]

The invasion by Georgian forces of Abkhazia in August 1991 and their criminal behaviour created shockwaves among the North Caucasian communities in Turkey. They fully identified with the separatist side. Reports about deliberate destruction by Georgian forces of all major archives, scientific institutes, libraries, museums and theatres in Abkhazia, of ethnic cleansing, looting, rape and wanton destruction caused acute fear of another genocide.[89]

5.2 The Abkhazian Republic and the North Caucasian Diaspora

During the mid-1970s, repatriation of members of the diaspora to the North Caucasus became possible. The legal procedure for repatriation was regulated by the laws of the Soviet Union and later the Russian Federation. Members of the North Caucasian diaspora were given Russian citizenship relatively quickly, even though there existed no special legislation for them. Georgia effectively opposed all repatriation of Abkhaz.[90]

Abkhaz nationalists considered the precarious demographic situation in Abkhazia a threat to their national survival and hoped for the return of the diaspora. Repatriation of the diaspora became a cornerstone of Abkhazian policy since the de facto self rule in 1990 and the separatist Government of Abkhazia regards the members of the diaspora as refugees from the time of the Russian conquest, with the right to repatriation and Abkhazian citizenship. The Government of Georgia is strongly opposed to this policy.[91]

In 1991 a decree was issued, giving returnees wide-ranging privileges in privatization and in entrepreneurial activities. In 1992, the Abkhazian Presidential Commission on Co-Nationals was established to facilitate remigration, headed by the returnee Chkotua Otkai.[92] In addition, a number of non-governmental organizations were established to assist returnees, notably Apsadgil and the Demographic Fund. With financial help from organizations in Turkey, three specialized educational institutes have been established in Abkhazia, where returnees teach.[93] It was decided to build a mosque in Sukhumi and a huge monument stretching into the Black Sea, symbolizing the deportations of the 1860s and the hoped-for return of the diaspora.[94] Both endeavours were held up by the war. On 23 March 1993, the Abkhazian Supreme Soviet adopted a bill by which all descendants of the 19th century emigration were granted the right to full citizenship.[95]

5.3 The North Caucasian Diaspora and the War in Abkhazia

On 16 August 1992, demonstrations were held in Istanbul and Ankara against the invasion of Abkhazia and the passive attitude of the Government of Turkey. Thousands of North Caucasians went into the streets, impressing not only the Turkish public, but also themselves. The North Caucasians suddenly had become a political factor in Turkey and Kaf-Der started an active lobbying policy that focussed on the governments of Turkey and the Russian Federation.[96]

New organizations supporting the Abkhazian cause proliferated. The most important of these, the Kafkas-Abkhaz Dayanima Komitesi, was founded in August 1992 by Abkhazians who had thus far taken part in larger, Circassian dominated, organizations. The Kafkas-Abkhaz Dayanima Komitesi wanted the Circassian diaspora to engage in building a new Abkhazia and established close contacts with the Government of Abkhazia. The Committee was radical and aroused a lot of enthusiasm, notably among the youth. Abkhaz solidarity committees emerged among the North Caucasian diaspora outside Turkey as well. The Committee was meant to serve as a coordinating body for the many local initiatives, but did not fully achieve this aim. It did engage in lobbying activities, but never developed into an effective political body.

On 22 August 1992, a joint statement of all North Caucasian organizations in Turkey was published, denouncing the Georgian invasion.[97] For the first time the diaspora felt it had a common cause. The response to the many appeals for money and goods to support Abkhazia was massive. Hundreds of young men volunteered to fight in Abkhazia, and many more planned to remigrate to Abkhazia to regain the ancestral lands. Nolens volens, cultural organizations gained political meaning.[98] The war also boosted the interaction between North Caucasian communities in Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Germany, the United States and the member states of the Commonwealth of Independent States.[99]

In August 1992, the President of the International Adyghe and Abkhaz Federation, Yuri Kalmykov, expressed the radical mood among North Caucasians when he warned President Eduard Shevardnadze that if a general mobilization were instituted in Georgia, he would respond by calling all the diaspora North Caucasians to take up arms against the Georgians.[100] This and similar statements have generated speculation about the involvement of the diaspora in the war in Abkhazia and later also in Chechnya. When the war in Chechnya broke out, Yuri Kalmykov resigned as Russian Minister of Justice. The International Adyghe and Abkhaz Federation lost the tacit support it had received from Russian government circles before. Its third international conference which was planned in Sukhumi in 1995 was cancelled because of the Russian blockade of Abkhazia.[101]

On 27 November 1992, the Birlesik Kafkasya Konseyi Dernegi was established at the initiative of the Kafkas-Abkhaz Dayanima Komitesi. The Konseyi included businessmen who offered to coordinate the assistance given to the Abkhazian Republic and to assist in the development of business relations between Turkey and Abkhazia.[102]

When Georgia invaded Abkhazia on 14 August 1992, the international community, including Turkey, generally regarded the conflict as an internal affair of Georgia. Initially, the outburst of North Caucasian solidarity was met with unease by the Turkish authorities. A planned 6 September 1992 meeting of the diaspora in Istanbul was prohibited by the Vice-Governor of the province, and there were complaints that the media were subjected to pressure to ignore the pro-Abkhazian activities of the diaspora.[103] The fact that the Government of Turkey ignored what the diaspora considered an attempt to destroy the Abkhaz people, created much anger. The North Caucasians had always been loyal to the Turkish state, and the radicals saw the Turkish passivity as a betrayal of this loyalty.[104]

At present, contacts with the North Caucasian diaspora in Turkey is vital for Abkhazia. All road links via Georgia have been blockaded since 1992 and in 1993 the Russian Federation closed its border with Abkhazia. The only outside connection left is by relatively small boats to Northern Turkey.

5.4 The North Caucasian Diaspora and the War in Chechnya

In response to the Russian Army's attack on Chechnya, on 18 December 1994, the Kafkas-ÇeÇen Dayanima Komitesi was established in Ankara by several North Caucasian associations. The board is all-Chechen, but other North Caucasians and also Turks became actively involved in its work. A number of members of parliament from major Turkish nationalist and religious parties, notably the main religious opposition party, Refah Partisi, have functions within the committee. The committee has no institutional links with cultural North Caucasian organizations, but there is some important personal overlap.[105] The membership of the Political Commission of the Committee includes Abüllatif œener, member of parliament for the Refah Partisi, and Rauf Bozkurt, president of Kaf-Der. The committee serves as a coordinating body for similar organizations outside Turkey. It supports the Chechen struggle for independence e.g. through fund-raising - most of it comes from ethnic Turks - and humanitarian assistance. The committee funds i.a. medical care for Chechen fighters. The money that is collected for transfer to Chechnya itself is channelled through people who have been nominated by President Dzhokar Dudayev. Officially, the total amount collected by 28 March 1995 was US$ 550,000.[106]

The Kafkas-ÇeÇen Dayanima Komitesi lobbies in favour of the Chechen struggle for independence, both at the national and the international level. It is actively engaged in mobilizing pressure on the Turkish authorities to make them take a tough stand against Russian policies in Chechnya.[107] The outspoken political character of the committee represents a sharp break with the traditional activities of diaspora organizations.[108]

There is no reliable information on the number of diaspora volunteers that have joined the war in Chechnya, but their number is probably insignificant. The Kafkas-ÇeÇen Dayanima Komitesi claims that there are 50 Turkish citizens fighting on the Chechen side of the conflict, including both North Caucasians and ethnic Turks.[109] The Kaf-Der Bülten in 1995 mentioned only one North Caucasian from Turkey who had died in Chechnya, Hüseyin Gülseren.[110] There are indications that members of the North Caucasian diaspora in Turkey have been discouraged from participating in the war in Chechnya because of the implications for Turkey's relations with the separatist Government of Chechnya and because so few of them can speak sufficient Chechen or Russian.[111]

According to Pravda on 4 March 1996, two diaspora organizations, the Committee for Cooperation with Chechnya and the Committee for Cooperation with the Peoples of the Caucasus, have become conduits for financial support and arms for the regime of Dzhokar Dudayev. Pravda claimed that between January and April 1995, nearly US$ 700,000 was brought to Chechnya through these channels with assistance from Turkish special agencies.[112] This amount does not seem to be an exaggeration.[113]

The Pravda report further stated:

Turkey played a major role in securing weapons for the Chechen army. The first shipment of weapons and ammunition arrived from Turkey on trucks in November 1991, under the guise of humanitarian aid. The issue is that after German unification, Turkey, through NATO channels, received large quantities of formerly Soviet arms from storehouses in the German Democratic Republic. A significant portion of them was easily transported to Chechnya through Azerbaijan.[114]

These claims have never been substantiated.

On 17 January 1996, Tatyana Samolis, press secretary to the Russian Federal Foreign Intelligence service, said during a press conference: "The diaspora there [in Turkey] is very active. In our view it goes beyond the bounds of simply humanitarian aid." Grigory Karasin, the director of the information directorate of the Russian Foreign Ministry added at the same occasion: "We informed the Turkish side on more than one occasion about dangerous, anti-Russian actions by extremist circles of the Chechen diaspora and by Dudayev's commissars on the territory of Turkey."[115]

In January 1996, the Russian Government officially complained to the Government of Turkey that it allowed Chechens a free hand and failed to prevent members of the North Caucasian diaspora from training and sending forces to fight in Chechnya.[116]

5.5 The January 1996 Black Sea Hostage Taking

On 16 January 1996, the ferry Avrasya, which was due to leave Trabzon port for Sochi in Russia, was hijacked by gunmen who demanded the end of the siege in Pervomayskoye.[117] Three of the five hijackers, including the leader, Mohammed Tocsan, were Turkish citizens of the North Caucasian diaspora. In Turkey, reports circulated that the hijackers were linked to the extreme rightwing organization, Milly Hariket Partise (better known as Grey Wolves), and Muslim fundamentalist organizations like Nizam-i Alem Ocaklari and the Hezbollah. On 19 January 1996, the Governor of Trabzon, Alladin Yüksel, accused North Caucasian groups of maintaining close relations with the Hezbollah.[118] On 20 January 1996, an unspecified State Prosecutor in Dünzce repeated this accusation.[119] In a broadcast telephone interview on 18 January 1996, Mohammed Tocsan categorically denied having any links with political organizations.[120]

Mohammed Tocsan, a veteran of the wars in Abkhazia and Chechnya, claimed that he belonged to the North Caucasian Union of Cherkessian and Abkhaz Turks.[121] This was denied by North Caucasian organizations in Turkey, who quickly distanced themselves from the hijackers, calling them "a few adventurous students, with whom we have no relations",[122] while expressing sympathy for their goals. All indications point to an isolated action by a group of people who were unusually closely connected with the fighting in Chechnya.

There was great relief among diaspora organizations when the hijacking ended without bloodshed. The Turkish press generally praised the restraint shown by both the hijackers and the Turkish authorities, and expressed much understanding for the hijackers' motives.[123]

5.6 Repatriation

The guesses one sometimes hears about hundreds of thousands of Circassians wanting to return to the Northwest Caucasus are unrealistic. Certainly, some will return, but numbers will only become significant when there is a prosperous and stable situation in the area.... One should not forget that many Circassians in the diaspora are loyal and contented citizens of their respective country, who often like to boast about their Circassian descent, but will not put their words into practice, once this becomes feasible." [Rieks Smeets][124]

During the late 1960s, repatriation became a cherished ideal among the North Caucasian diaspora. After contacts had been re-established with the North Caucasus during the late 1980s, the idea received much enthusiasm in Turkey and the support from republics in the North Caucasus. Nevertheless, the repatriation movement never gained momentum. The number of returnees are counted in the hundreds rather than the thousands. "The return movement is only significant in the imagination of Cossacks and Georgians, who are afraid that we will take back our land."[125] A number of delegations visited the North Caucasus around 1990 to study prospects for repatriation programmes. The visitors were disappointed with the low standard of living in the North Caucasus. Another problem was the fact that the Abkhaz in Abkhazia appeared to be Christians and that the other North West Caucasians showed no real interest in religious teachings.[126]

Responding to an invitation by the Government of Abkhazia, a large delegation of the diaspora paid a visit to Abkhazia on 6 July 1992. They were informed about the economic prospects of Abkhazia and about recent measures to encourage mass return, including the allocation of land, notably in the Ochamchira area.[127] The ambitious programme that was meant to result from this trip was frustrated by the outbreak of the war.

Nevertheless, hundreds of people have returned to the North Caucasus. Remigration to Abkhazia started in 1989. According to Chkotua Otkai, it continued until the Russian blockade of Abkhazia in 1993.[128] Most people who did remigrate were young men, who planned to create a basis for existence before marrying or having their family come over. When the war came, they either joined the Abkhazian army or returned to Turkey.[129]

It is not unusual to come across a members of the diaspora in the North Caucasus. They are not only returnees, but often businessmen, students or participants in exchange programmes who spend a period in the country of origin of their ancestors. The Abkhaz State University of Sukhumi offers scholarships for students from Turkey, and so do the universities of Maikop (Adyghea) and Nalchik (Kabardino-Balkaria).[130]

In the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict, the Georgian side accuses Abkhazia of encouraging the settlement of large numbers of North Caucasians, including members of the diaspora, in areas such as Gali region.[131] There are no impartial sources of information on this issue, nor any reliable figures.[132] According to Professor Levan Alexidze, remigration to Abkhazia started as early as 1989, when 80 Abkhaz of Syrian nationality settled in Abkhazia.[133] In Georgia, the opinion can be heard that power in Abkhazia is no longer in the hands of native Abkhazians, but North Caucasians, including members of the diaspora.[134] Considering the fact that all Government posts and leading state appointments are held by native Abkhazians, this appraisal could be an exaggeration.

According to Abkhazian sources, in 1992 an estimated 150 North Caucasians went from Turkey to fight in Abkhazia. Three quarters of them are believed to have been of Abkhaz descent.[135] Allegedly, a comparable number of North Caucasians from Jordan and Syria volunteered. Some of these people have remained in Abkhazia after the war.[136] Unofficial groups in Syria and Jordan organized the recruitment of volunteers. There have been volunteers killed in action and taken prisoner.[137] "The Abkhazian authorities acknowledged that [during the war] they had received significant financial assistance from the Abkhaz diaspora, in addition to an unspecified number of essentially free-lance fighters."[138]

6. PROSPECTS

The resurgence of Caucasian national feelings has been called the "resurrection of the virtually comatose",[139] but should perhaps rather be termed the "coming out" of a group of ethnic minorities in Turkey. The North Caucasian organizations in Turkey still lack unity, follow-through, funding and cadre, but the wars in the Caucasus have enourmously increased their motivation and the scope of their activities. The proliferation and expansion of local organizations has created awareness of the necessity to join forces. The organizations' involvement in the wars in the North Caucasus is officially limited to humanitarian and financial assistance. There are no reasons to believe that they are also actively involved in military matters on a significant scale.

Even though the return ideal is still very much alive, only a small group of highly motivated individuals have actually taken the step to settle in the North Caucasus. The members of the diaspora are generally too well integrated in Turkish society for any massive return movement to be likely, even if the situation in the North Caucasus should dramatically improve. Integration has gone so far that some linguists have expressed serious doubt whether North Caucasian languages have any real future at all in Turkey, Syria or Jordan.[140] The successful integration also forms a major obstacle to the development of North Caucasian nationalism in Turkey.

The North Caucasians do have the potential to play a role in future Turkish politics. In this respect, the development of the Kafkas-ÇeÇen Dayanima Komitesi is noteworthy. It is well rooted in major political parties and actively lobbies for changes in Turkish foreign policy. It accepts the support of nationalist and religious parties, who try to capitalize on the overwhelming support for the Chechen cause among the Turkish population. This support also forms a source of concern. Identification with right-wing and religious groups could result in internal division and political marginalization; but on the other hand, the material and moral support is quite welcome.[141]

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APPENDIX I: LIST OF NORTH CAUCASIAN ORGANIZATIONS[142]

Abkhaz Kültür DerneZi One in Istanbul and one in Ankara. Both linked to local organizations.

Abkhazia ile Dayanima Komitesi Also referred to as Kafkas-Abkhaz Dayanima Komitesi. Founded in August 1992. Coordinating body for support to the Abkhaz struggle for independence.

Alan Kültür ve Yardimlama Vakfi Ossetian, founded in 1990 in Istanbul, has a branch in Ankara. Its president is Halis Asetey.

Çardak DerneZi Chechen Organization in Istanbul, people originating from the village Çardak. They form the nucleus of the Kafkas-ÇeÇen Dayanima Komitesi.

Kafkasyalilar Kultur ve Yardimlasma DerneZi.      Chechen, in Ankara; the official name does not mention it is a Chechen association, but members are almost exclusively Chechens.

Dostluk Klubü DerneZi Ankara; small grouping, established by business people to improve cooperation between small businessmen in Turkey and the North Caucasus. They have diverging ethnic backgrounds; the Klubü is well integrated in Turkish society and does not actively resist assimilation.

Dostluk Klubü DerneZi The same as above, but in Istanbul.

Istanbul Kafkas Kültür DerneZi One of the main organizations in Istanbul.

Kafkas-Abhazya Kültür DerneZi Abkhazian, established in 1967.

Kafkas DerneZi Also known as Kaf-Der; President is Rauf Bozkurt; the organization unites most of the local Kuzey Kafkasya Kültür Dernekleri, which at present are in the process of changing their names into Kafkas Dernegi [name of the place] œubesi. With branches in Adana, Ankara, Antalya, Balikesir, Burhaniye, Bursa, Orhangazi, Çorum, Erbaa, Gaziantep, Gönem, Izmir, Ladik, Mersin, Reyhanli, Sarkisla, Sincan, Sinop, Soma, Sungurlu, and Susurluk.

Kartal Kuzey Kafkasya Kültür ve Dayanima DerneZi Dagestani.

œamil EZitim ve Kültür Vakfi Small grouping, founded by well integrated Northeast Caucasians; the organization used to be close to right-wing Turkish nationalist circles and to strive for the liberation of all "Turks" in the USSR; nowadays they are more moderate in this respect.

Birlesik Kafkasya Konseyi Dernegi Caucasian Council, in Ankara; President is Enver Kaplan. Retired bureaucrats have a majority among its founding members. They follow a line close to Turkey's official foreign policy.

Kafkas-ÇeÇen Dayanima Komitesi The board is all-Chechen, but many other North Caucasians and Turks are actively involved in its work. President is Fazil Özen. The committee was established on 18 December 1994. Coordinating body for assistance to Chechnya. The committee engages in political lobbying in support of the Chechen struggle for independence.

Kafkas Dernegi Ankara œubesi Ankara branch of Kafkas DerneZi. Until 1992, the organization published Kafdagi.

Samsun Kuzey Kafkasya Kültür DerneZi Samsun branch of Kafkas DerneZi.

Other places with major organizations: Sakarya (Adapazari, two organizations in Adapazari, one Abkhazian, one Circassian), Kayseri, Duzce (one Abkhazian, one Circassian).

APPENDIX II: LIST OF SELECTED PERIODICALS

Periodicals published by North Caucasians in Turkey tend to be short lived. What follows is a selection of the most important ones.

KafdaZi Bi-monthly organ of the Ankara Kuzey Kafkasya Kültür DerneZi, led by Aslan Ari; main mouthpiece of the repatriation ideal, ceased publishing in 1993.

Kaf-Der Bülten Monthly organ of the Kafkas DerneZi

Kafkas GerçeZi A quarterly, printed in Samsun that gives much attention to political developments in the Caucasus. Opposed to Turkification, but not very supportive of repatriation. Edited by Sefer Berzeg

Kuzey Kafkasya Bi-monthly publication since 1970, Istanbul. Expressing ethnic pride, but not pro-repatriation. Circulation of about 1,500

Marje Leftist monthly, linked with Kafkas DerneZi. Ceased publishing in 1994

Yeni Kafkasya Istanbul monthly, circulation in 1993 over 16,000

Kayseri Islamist periodical, published in Kayseri

APPENDIX 3: NORTH CAUCASIAN ORGANIZATIONS IN JORDAN

The Circassian Beneficial Society Established in 1932. The main grouping for North West Caucasians - Kabarday, Abkhaz-Abaza, Bzhadugh, Shapsugh, Abazaha, etc. The centre is in Amman with a few other branches. The Women's branch runs a school (6-18 year olds) that teaches the Circassian language.

Al-Jeel Club Mainly a cultural group - dance, sport, etc. The club sponsors the publishing of a nearly finished Circassian-English and Circassian-Russian dictionary, edited by Amjad Jaimoukha

Al Ahli Club A sports club of North West Caucasians

Al Quqazi Club Another sports club, mainly Chechen

The Chechen Beneficial Society

 

The views expressed in the papers are those of the authors and are not necessarily those of UNHCR.

 



[1] "History of Abkhazia", in Russian, by a collective group of writers, published in Sukhumi, 1991. Quoted in B.G. Hewitt, "Abkhazia: A Problem of Identity and Ownership", Central Asian Survey, Vol. 12, No. 3 (1993), p. 267

[2] The term "Abkhaz", both as an adjective and as a noun, will be used in this paper to refer to ethnic Abkhaz, while the term "Abkhazian", as an adjective and as a noun, will be used to refer to the Abkhazian Republic and its inhabitants

[3] Egbert Wesselink, Minorities in the Republic of Georgia (Brussels: Pax Christi International, 1992), p. 12

[4] Ibid. p. 41

[5] Tamaz Nadareishvili, Prime-Minister of the Government of Abkhazia (anti-separatist division), Sukhumi. Personal interview, 1 August 1992; Sergei Shamba, Member of the Supreme Soviet and President of the Abkhaz People's Forum, and Natela Akaba, Vice-President of the Commission for Human Rights and Inter-Ethnic Relations of the Supreme Soviet of Abkhazia, Sukhumi. Personal interview, 31 July 1991

[6] Mehmet Tucuncu, President of the S.O.T.A. Foundation. Personal interview, Haarlem, 30 May 1996

[7] Rieks Smeets, "Circassia", Central Asian Survey, Vol. 14, No. 1 (March 1995), p. 109

[8] Julian Birch, "The Georgian/South Ossetian Territorial and Boundary Dispute" in John F.R. Wright, Susan Goldenberg, Richard Schofield (eds.), Transcaucasian Boundaries (London: University College London Press, 1996), p. 152; Peter Alford Andrews, Ethnic Groups in the Republic of Turkey (Wiesbaden: Dr Ludwig Reich Verlag, 1989), p. 170; B.G. Hewitt, "Demographic Manipulations in the Caucasus (with Special Reference to Georgia)", Journal of Refugee Studies. Vol. 8, No. 1 (Winter 1995), p. 49

[9] Smeets, "Circassia", p. 111

[10] Rieks Smeets, Lecturer in Caucasian languages, University of Leiden. Personal interview, 12 January 1996; Süleyman Yançatarol, Vice-President of Kafkas DerneZi, Ankara. Telephone interview, 26 February 1996

[11] Batiray Özbek, "Tscherkessen in der Turkei" in Peter Alford Andrews, Ethnic Groups in the Republic of Turkey (Wiesbaden: Dr Ludwig Reich Verlag, 1989), pp. 588-9

[12] L. Nestman, "Die ethnische Differenzierung der Bevölkerung der Osttürkei in ihren sozialen Bezügen" in Peter Alford Andrews, Ethnic Groups in the Republic of Turkey (Wiesbaden: Dr Ludwig Reich Verlag, 1989), pp. 572

[13] Lowell Bezanis, "Soviet Muslim Emigrés in the Republic of Turkey", Central Asian Survey, Vol. 13, No. 1 (Winter 1994), p. 141; Özbek, p. 590

[14] Andrews, p. 58

[15] Milliyet [Ankara], "Ünlü Portreler", 18 January 1996, p. 7

[16] Özbek, p. 590; Bezanis, p. 66

[17] This list is not exhaustive, but it covers all major centres. See Kaf-Der Bülten [Ankara], "Kaf-Der œubeleri", No. 19-20 (March-April 1995), pp. 20-21; Bezanis, p. 142; Smeets. Personal interview, 12 January 1996; Süleyman Yançatarol, Vice-President of Kafkas DerneZi, Ankara. Letter to the author, Ankara, 26 February 1996

[18] Yançatarol, interview, 26 February 1996; Zehai Baydilli, Leader of the Circassian Cultural Organization in the Netherlands, affiliated with Kafkas DerneZi. Telephone interview, 19 March 1996

[19] Bezanis, p. 92, quoting Resmi Gazete, No. 23, October 1983, pp. 27-28

[20] Baydilli, telephone interview, 10 April 1996

[21] Janet Mayragül Çorlu, Circassians in Istanbul (Istanbul: Nart Yayincilik, 1993), p. 18; Fathi Recep, Member of the Board of the Circassian Cultural Organization in the Netherlands, affiliated with Kafkas DerneZi. Telephone interview, 8 April 1996; 21.1229 Yançatarol, letter, 26 February 1996

[22] Smeets, interview, 5 February 1996

[23] Yuri Voronov, Historian, President of the Parliamentary Commission on Human Rights and Inter Ethnic Relations of Abkhazia. Personal interview, Gagra, 1 December 1993

[24] Omer Faruk Guvener, former teacher at the Chechen-Turkish College in Grozny. Letter to the author, Redlands [California], 1 April 1996 (electronic communication)

[25] Marje [Ankara], Hilmi Özen, "Anavatanda Bütünlemek", August 1992, p. 30

[26] Bishop David of Sukhumi. Personal interview, Tbilisi, 26 July 1991; Shamba and Akaba, interview, 31 July 1991

[27] Smeets, interview, 16 February 1996

[28] Marje [Ankara], Hilmi Aççumy, "Çerkes Milliyetçiliginin Esalari", July 1992, p. 29; Viacheslav A. Chirikba, Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Abkhazia. Personal interview, Leiden, 28 December 1995

[29] Chirikba. Personal interview, Leiden, 28 December 1995

[30] Yuri Voronov, the eminent historian who was brutally murdered in Sukhumi in 1995, estimated in December 1993 that 60 per cent of the Abkhaz left for the Ottoman Empire in 1864 and ensuing years. Personal interview, Gudauta, 4 December 1993

[31] Hewitt, "Demographic Manipulations in the Caucasus", p. 50

[32] Kemal H. Karpat, Ottoman Population, 1830-1914 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1985), p. 56; Paul B. Henze, "Circassian Resistance to Russia" in Marie Benningsen Broxup (ed.), The North Caucasus Barrier (London: Hurst, 1992), p. 104

[33] Ibid.

[34] Özbek, p. 585

[35] Hewitt, "Demographic Manipulations in the Caucasus", p. 49

[36] John Colarusso, "Abkhazia". Paper presented at the Conference on the Contemporary North Caucasus, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 22-23 April 1993, p. 11

[37] Bezanis, p. 141

[38] Çoslu, p. 18

[39] Bezanis, p. 141

[40] Bezanis, p. 66

[41] Milliyet [Ankara], "Ünlü Portreler", 18 January 1996, p. 7; Kenan Furat, University of Utrecht. Personal interview, Utrecht, 2 February 1996

[42] Yançatarol, letter to the author, 26 February 1996

[43] Bezanis, p. 70

[44] Yeni Kafkasya [Istanbul], Muammer Tunce, "Gündem", March 1993, p. 5

[45] Çorlu, p. 11

[46] Çorlu, p. 12

[47] Çorlu, p. 13

[48] Bezanis, p. 141

[49] Özbek, p. 581

[50] Bezanis, p. 141

[51] Baydilli, telephone interview, Amsterdam, 1 February 1996

[52] Marje [Ankara], Abraham Çetaw, "Politik Yorum", August 1992, p. 21

[53] Çorlu, pp. 15-16

[54] Bezanis, p. 69

[55] Baydilli, telephone interview, 8 April 1996

[56] Bezanis, p. 68

[57] Bezanis, p. 85

[58] Edited by Yasin Çelikkiran Teu and published in 1991 in Maikop. Kafkasya [Samsun], "Türkiye'de Kuzey Kafkasyali'larla Ilgili Yaninlar", January 1992, p. 51

[59] Marje [Ankara], "Çerkeslerin Örgütlenme Sorunlari", June 1992, pp. 24-25

[60] Fathi Recep, interview, 8 April 1996

[61] Bezanis, p. 85

[62] Marje [Ankara], Hilmi Özen, "Bugün Dönü Amaç Olmaktan Çikmitir", November 1992, p. 29

[63] Erol Taymaz, Associate Professor, Department of Economics, Middle East Technical University of Ankara. Letter to the author, 6 May 1996

[64] Kaf-Der Bülten, "Birlik ve Dayanima Yolunda", No. 19-20, March-April 1995, p. 14

[65] Marje [Ankara], Mehmet Urun, "Adighe Cumhuriyeti", July 1992, p. 19

[66] Kafkas DerneZi, also known as Kaf-Der, is often still referred to as Kafkas Kültür DerneZi

[67] Marje [Ankara], Sönmez Baykan, "Bir Ulus Olmak, Bir Vatana Sahib Olabilmek Için Birlemek Zorundayiz", October 1992, pp. 4-5

[68] Marje [Ankara], Ömer œahim, "Gündem", June 1992, p. 40

[69] Baydilli, interview, 1 February 1996

[70] Kaf-Der Bülten [Ankara], "Kaf-Der'in Kafkasya Polikasi", No. 19-20 (March-April 1995), p. 16

[71] Fathi Recep, Member of the Board of the Circassian Cultural Organization in the Netherlands, affiliated with Kafkas DerneZi. Telephone interview, 8 April 1996

[72] Kaf-Der Bülten [Ankara], "Kafkas DerneZi Genel Merkezi 1995-96 Faaliyet Programi", October 1995, p. 6

[73] As can be seen in periodicals like Marje and Kaf-Der Bülten, where authors started to sign their articles with North Caucasian names

[74] Washington Post, Yo'av Karny, "Home away from Homeland: Around the Middle East, the Resilient Chechens Have Made Their Mark, 25 May 1995

[75] Yo'av Karny, publicist. Letter to the author, Washington, 22 April 1996

[76] New York Times, Yo'av Karny, "Survival and Suicide in Russia's Shadow", 28 January 1996

[77] Imad Jaimoukha. Letter to the author, 6 May 1996 (electronic communication)

[78] Marje [Ankara], "Çerkeslerin Örgütlenme Sorunlari", June 1992, p. 24-25. The organization is also known as the International Cherkess Association.

[79] Marje [Ankara], "Dünya Çerkes BirliZi TüzüZü", September 1992, pp. 45-7

[80] Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty [Munich], "Former Russian Justice Minister on his Resignation", 13 December 1994 (electronic version)

[81] Yançatarol, letter, 26 February 1996

[82] Wesselink, pp. 40-41

[83] Wesselink, pp. 14-15

[84] Wesselink, p. 41

[85] Wesselink, p. 30

[86] Shamba and Akaba, interview, 31 July 1991

[87] Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), "Report of a UNPO Coordinated Mission to Abkhazia and Georgia", Central Asian Survey, Vol. 14, No. 1 (March 1995)

[88] B.G. Hewitt, "Abkhazia: A Culture on the Brink", London 1993, unpublished manuscript, p. 1

[89] Stanislav Lakoba, "Abkhazia is Abkhazia", Central Asian Survey, Vol. 14, No. 1 (March 1995), p. 101; Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, "Report of a UNPO Coordinated Mission to Abkhazia and Georgia"

[90] Viacheslav Chirikba, Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Abkhazia. Letter to the author, Leiden, 6 February 1996

[91] Ibid.

[92]Chkotua Otkai, President of the Abkhazian Presidential Commission on Co-Nationals. Letter to the author, Sukhumi, 17 April 1996.

[93] Otkai, letter, Sukhumi, 17 April 1996

[94] An exhibition of these projects was held in Sukhumi on 2 August 1991. Visited by the author.

[95] Otkai, letter, Sukhumi, 17 April 1996

[96] Rauf Bozkurt, President of the Kafkas DerneZi, Ankara. Telephone interview, 9 February 1996

[97] Marje [Ankara], "Abhaz Delegasyonunun Abhazya Cumhuriyeti Incelemeleri", August 1992, p. 43

[98] Çoslu, p. 16

[99] Bezanis, p. 142

[100] Colarusso, p. 13. See also a later statement by Kalmykov, 20 September 1995: "The 'joint training' of Russian and Georgian border guards on the border between Russia and Abkhazia along the river Psou will inevitably lead to armed conflicts. Any action aimed at strangling Abkhazia will not leave the related Adyghe-Abkhaz nations indifferent. Nor will the larger diaspora abroad ... remain indifferent." Quoted in Central Asian Survey, "Council of the Federation, Parliament of the Russian Federation: Deputy, State Duma 1993-1995", Vol. 15, No. 1, 1006, p. 119.

[101] Baydilli, telephone interview, 8 April 1996

[102] Marje [Ankara], "Kafkas Konseyi Kuruldu", January 1993, p. 26-29.

[103] Marje [Ankara], letter of the Vice-Governor of the Province of Istanbul, Erol Gökberg, dated 4 September 1992, September 1992, p. 44

[104] Marje [Ankara], Sönmez Baykan, "Bir Özgürlük Okyanasudur DaZli YüreZi Emperyalizmin Oyununu Mutlaka Bozacaktir", August 1992, p. 3

[105] Fazil Özen, President of the Kafkas-ÇeÇen Dayanima Komitesi. Telephone interview, 12 April 1996

[106] Kaf-Der Bülten [Ankara], "Dayanima Komitesi Faaliyet Raporlari", No. 19-20 (March-April 1995), p. 8

[107] Ibid. p. 10

[108] Özen, interview, 12 April 1996

[109] Özen, interview, 12 April 1996

[110] Kaf-Der Bülten [Ankara], [obituary notice], no. 19-20 (March-April 1995), p. 3

[111] Thomas Golz, independent researcher on the Caucasus region. Electronic communication, 23 January 1996

[112] Asbarez on Line [Glendale], 4 March 1996, quoting Pravda [Moscow], 4 March 1996

[113] During a meeting of representatives of European branches of North Caucasian organizations in Amsterdam on 28 March 1995, it was claimed that over 2 million German Marks had already been collected for humanitarian aid to Chechnya in West European mosques only. The author was present at this meeting.

[114] Asbarez on Line [Glendale], 4 March 1996, quoting Pravda [Moscow], 4 March 1996

[115] BBC Summary of World Broadcasts [London], "Russia Warned Turkey of Chechen Activity, Say Intelligence and Foreign Ministry Officials", 19 January 1996, quoting NTV, [Moscow], 17 January 1996

[116] InterPress Service, "Turkey-Russia: Ankara's Relief and Pride at End of Crisis", 19 January 1996 (electronic version)

[117] BBC Summary of World Broadcasts [London], "'Caucasian Turks' Hijack Ferry in Turkish Port Trabzon", 18 January 1996, quoting TRT TV Ankara [Ankara], 16 January 1996

[118] Cumhuriyet [Ankara], "Baskinda Hizbullah Kukuu", 19 January 1996, p. 2

[119] Cumhuriyet [Ankara], "Eylemciler, Sorguya Alinmali", 20 January 1996, p. 4

[120] Cumhuriyet [Ankara], "Savalar Sona Ermeli", 18 January 1996, p. 4

[121] BBC Summary of World Broadcasts [London], "Trabzon Hijackers State their Case on Turkish TV", 18 January 1996, quoting Istanbul Kanal-D Television [Istanbul], 17 January 1996. He probably meant the International Circassian and Abkhaz Federation. Due to flawed translations, frequent change of names and the fact that associations are made up of groups with differing names, there is some confusion about the names of North Caucasian organizations

[122] InterPress Service, 19 January 1996

[123] See the numerous articles and commentaries on the issue in the leading Turkish newspapers Cumhuriyet [Ankara] and Milliyet [Ankara], during the second half of January 1996

[124] Smeets, "Circassia", p. 125

[125] Baydilli, telephone interview, 10 April 1996

[126] Chirikba, interview, 20 January 1996

[127] Marje [Ankara], "Abhaz Delegasyonunun Abhazya Cumhuriyeti Incelemeleri", August 1992, p. 42.

[128] Otkai, letter, Sukhumi, 17 April 1996

[129] Personal interview with unidentified North Caucasians from Turkey, Sukhumi, 21 December 1993

[130] Kaf-Der Bülten [Ankara], "Kafkasya'da EZitim Olanaklari", August 1995, p. 20; Kaf-Der Bülten [Ankara], "Maykop'ta EZitim", September 1995, p. 10

[131] Alexander Kavsadze, Deputy Prime Minister of Georgia. Personal interview, Tbilisi, 8 December 1993

[132] Greg Hansen, former United Nations volunteer based in Gali region in 1994-95. Personal interview, Amsterdam, 1 April 1996

[133] Professor Levan Alexidze, Deputy Dean of the University of Tbilisi and President of the Georgian State Committee on Ethnic Cleansing and Genocide in Abkhazia. Personal interview, Tbilisi, 10 December 1993

[134] Iorik Marshania, First Deputy Prime Minister of the Abkhazian Republic (anti-separatist Government of Abkhazia, in exile). Personal interview, Tbilisi, 8 December 1993

[135] Chirikba, interview, 16 January 1996

[136] Ruslan Jaritsba, Mayor of Gagra. Personal interview, Gagra, 2 December 1993

[137]Imad Jaimoukha, leading member of the Circassian community in Jordan. Letter to the author, 6 May 1996. (Electronic communication)

[138] Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, Georgia/Abkhazia, Violations of the Laws of War and Russia's Role in the Conflict, Vol. 7, No. 7 (New York/Washington, March 1995), p. 43

[139] Bezanis, p. 85

[140] Smeets, "Circassia", p. 125

[141] Yançatarol, letter, 26 February 1996

[142] This list is far from complete, but it is believed that the most important organizations are included.

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