Sunday, October 08, 2006

Outcasts

In the sadness and shock of Anna Politkovskaya's terrible murder, it may be timely to remember something she wrote in one of her Chechnya war dispatches, first published in 2002:
"We are a nation of outcasts. And whoever is with us is an outcast," says Dr. Khajiev as a farewell.
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Because Chechnya is a zone where some people can do what they want, and the others have to accept it.

Russia continues to nurture an enclave where citizens' rights don't exist. It's a very dangerous business. If only the world could see the eyes of Aishat Suleimanova's son! The gaze of a hunted outcast. His father was killed only because he was an outcast, and whose mother was disfigured for the same reason. At the beginning of the war, most Chechens were still surprised by their new situation and yelled, "We're people just like you! We demand respect!" But now no one yells. Because everyone agrees: they are a nation of outcasts.
(A Small Corner of Hell. Dispatches from Chechnya, translated by Alexander Burry and Tatiana Tulchinsky, p. 88)
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