15 years after Beslan: The Quest for Justice Goes On
This year, survivors and their families commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Beslan school siege of September 1st-3rd 2004, one of the worst terrorist attacks in Russia’s modern history. The siege and the following unsuccessful rescue operation conducted by Russian security forces resulted in the deaths of 334 people, 186 of them children. While the official investigation claims only the terrorists were responsible for the death of the victims, the survivors put part of the blame on the Russian government and vow to continue their struggle for justice.
Seeing the counterproductive nature of the official investigation into the events, some of the eyewitnesses and families of the victims joined forces and created a nongovernmental organization Voice of Beslan. They carried out their own investigation and held a number of public actions to draw local and international attention to the attempts of hiding the truth about the events in Beslan and the problem of impunity in Russia in general. In 2017 families of Beslan victims won a joint case Tagayeva and Others v. Russia at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
In this ruling ECHR found multiple violations of the right to life over Russia’s failure to take preventive measures against the terrorist attack on the school in 2004, and using excessive lethal force during the rescue operation on the third day of the siege. Despite this significant achievement, the survivors are not able to fully enjoy the victory. Having paid the financial compensation to the applicants assigned by the ECHR, Russia still completely ignores the second part of the ECHR’s decision – to conduct a fair investigation into the attack and the following unsuccessful rescue operation of the hostages.
In the following years, the activists of Voice of Beslan have been demanding that the Russian government assume accountability and face the consequences of their actions, which resulted in hundreds of victims. From the beginning of their involvement, the activists have been subjected to various forms of persecution, threats and harassment from the authorities, which continues to this day.
People in Need is seriously concerned with the repressions committed against the “Voice of Beslan” activists. We would like to express our strongest support to those remarkable people who found the courage, being strongly traumatized themselves, to strive for the truth in such a repressive environment and to stand up against the Russian government demanding justice and accountability.
UNSILENCED VOICES OF BESLAN
For more information on this topic, we invite you to see a new documentary film “Unsilenced Voices of Beslan” created by Czech director Tomáš Polenský and screenwriter Ivana Skálová. The film presents eyewitness testimonies and facts shedding light on the events of 2004 which the authorities try to deny to this day, as well as the 15-year struggle of survivors and their families for a fair investigation. The film was screened this year at our International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival “One World” in Prague and in Brussels. The full version of the Film in Russian, Czech and English is available at the website: https://www.unsilencedvoices.info