To the Editor:

While everyone is busy condemning the recent acts of Chechen terrorists, as well they should, it would be good to bear in mind the atrocious terrorism being continually practiced in Chechnya by Russian forces.

Human Rights Watch (a widely respected NGO) reports widespread rape, torture and “disappearance” of Chechens at the hands of their Russian occupiers, reminiscent of some of the old Soviet crimes and the havoc wreaked by United States-backed death squads in Latin America in decades past and today. While the terrorists who seized the Moscow theatre Oct. 23 are about as heartless as anyone you’re likely to find, are their demands really that far-fetched?

All they are asking for is independence for their people (held as part of Russia by force alone, and who have repeatedly expressed an overwhelming desire for independence) and the withdrawal of the 80,000 or so Russian troops who continue to terrorize them on a daily basis. If you or I were placed in the situation of the Chechens, even if we didn’t embrace some of their tactics, don’t you think we’d ask for the same things?

The consequences of these brutal actions are plain: The world can never be at peace while the governments that control it continue to wantonly disregard the universal, basic human rights of the people who inhabit it.

Tom Deere ’03

October 30, 2002