To: The General Secretary of the UN, Perez de Cuellar; The President of the USSR, M. S. Gorbachev; The President of the Turkish Republic, Turgut Özal
DECLARATION OF THE ASSEMBLY OF THE MOUNTAIN PEOPLES OF THE CAUCASUS
We, representatives of the mountain peoples of the Caucasus, have gathered in the city of Sukhum, capital of the Abkhazian ASSR, in order to honour the memorial of forebears who gave their lives for the freedom and independence of the Caucasus and to extend the hand of brotherhood to our fellow-countrymen – the makhadzhirs [exiles], who were expelled to foreign frontiers.
The pursuit of freedom and independence has always defined the national self-awareness of the mountaineers. The struggle in defence of these noble ideals has inscribed in our history not a few heroic and tragic pages.
However, the most severe trial that fell to our lot was the 50-year anti-colonial struggle with the Russian Empire. The autocracy made its goal not only the conquest of the Caucasus but also the extermination and expulsion of the disobedient mountaineers. This goal determined the barbaric character of the war which, in essence, was a genocide against our peoples.
Hundreds of thousands of individuals perished in battles from hunger and disease. Those who remained among the living took refuge in the mountains or were forced to abandon their dearly beloved homeland. Millions of expelled makhadzhirs found themselves beyond the borders of our fatherland. The mountaineers, disadvantaged and scattered over the whole earth, be it at home or overseas, drank more than one cup of grief. But through all the vicissitudes of fate we were led by the sacred hope of finding one another in our native land.
The profound democratic changes taking place in the Soviet Union give our people the chance to restore justice.
We are convinced that on the threshold of the 21st century the good will of the Soviet Union and Turkey, with the assistance of the UN and the international community, will aid the mountain people to reunite on their own land.
In the name of the Assembly of the Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus [AMPC] we deem it essential:
- To recognise the day of the conclusion of the Caucasian War – the 21st May – the Day of Remembrance for the victims of the Caucasian War and their enforced deportation;
- To draw up a single international programme for establishing cultural, scientific and other links between the Caucasian mountaineers and compatriots overseas;
- To create favourable conditions for the repatriation of the mountaineers of the Caucasus and the unification with their compatriots in the historical homeland.
Adopted at a 13,000-person meeting of representatives of the Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus on 31 May 1990 in Sukhum, Abkhazia.
President of the Coordinating Council
of the Assembly of the Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus
Ju. M. Shanibov
President of the People’s Forum of Abkhazia “Ajdgylara’
S. M. Shamba
The People’s Forum of Abkhazia