International Action:

A Hunger Strike for Peace in Chechnya

Geneva 2001


In connection with the 57th session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, an interfaith group will begin holding a hunger strike and prayer vigil in front of the Palace of Nations (or at the Japanese Peace Bell on the hill near the Palace of Nations). The group will assemble between 9AM and 5PM daily starting on April 1st and continuing indefinitely.

The hunger strikers’ goal is to achieve the following:
1. Immediate peace negotiations for a political solution to the conflict in Chechnya;
2. Sending of an international, interfaith mediation group to Chechnya;
3. Immediate humanitarian aid for internally displaced persons within Chechnya.

Declaration

In the 10 years since the fall of the Soviet Union, Chechnya has twice become a place of violence and has now become nothing but a black hole of lawlessness and vengeance.  This is a tragedy not only for the Chechen people now living on the brink of extinction, but also for the newly-emerging democracy in Russia and for the possibility of replacing the Cold War with a new peace.

Now, as the 21st century begins, Chechnya remains parched and bloody, and there are disturbing signs of the end of Chechen civilization.  After the sudden fall of the Soviet Union, the newly-independent republics were thrown into chaos and faced the unbelievably difficult task of self-transformation and nation-building.  Western countries, however, had no clear political reaction to this unusually difficult process, nor did they critically observe the situation.

The Chechen war is the most catastrophic result of the negative processes which have been going on throughout the 10-year transition period since the end of the Cold War.

The international community, in spite of its impressive arsenal of possibilities, has done nothing to stop the continued bloodshed, ceaseless genocide and vicious war crimes being committed in the Chechen wars.

To this day, no one in the world has initiated any sort of political cooperation to help overcome this deadly impasse and begin a life-giving peace process.

If it is Auschwitz and Hiroshima that remind us of the war crimes of the 20th century, then today, at the beginning of the 21st, Chechnya and Grozny stand as the disgraceful monuments to our shared guilt and indifference.

Through our hunger strike we are attempting to provide a catalyst to action, even if only small steps towards a change in the relations between the two warring sides and a change in the attitude of the international community, which could help the two sides come to a compromise.  This hunger strike is an act of prayer, expressing not only our organizational capabilities but also the faith and spiritual strength that is present in every person.  We pray that this strength will bring change.  And we appeal to everyone – let us strive for peace in Chechnya!

The hunger strike is being organized by the Venerable X, Buddhist monk

Contact information: myohoji@hotmail.com

Ways to get involved:
1. Take part in the hunger strike and prayer demonstration.
2. Write to your government, requesting that they take action on the three goals of the hunger strike.
3. Write to President Putin (either directly or through the Russian embassy in your country), requesting that he take action on the three goals.
4. Call upon the UN and other international organizations to support this initiative.
5. Write to your own legislators, requesting that they discuss relevant legislation, or get your own organization involved in writing such legislation.
6. Support this initiative in the mass media.
7. Learn more about the situation in Chechnya.  Possible sources of information: