We, the undersigned, representatives of Russian human rights organizations, condemn the terrorist acts committed on September 11 in New York and Washington as unprecedented crimes. The civilian population was consciously and deliberately selected as the victim of this monstrous action by its organizers. All the world can now see the consequences of applying the principle of “collective blame,” in their worst possible form. We declare our solidarity with the people of the United States of America. We mourn the people who perished and feel profound sympathy for all those injured and affected.

We believe that in this difficult situation the people and government of the United States will find an adequate response to the terrorists. We feel certain that they will not stoop to blind revenge, to actions of “collective vengeance.”

We welcome the intention, voiced by the leaders of many states, to unite the efforts of democratic nations in the fight against terrorism. At the same time, we cannot help but register our concern about statements made in the mass media by numerous analysts and political figures, both in our country and abroad. We reject simplistic solutions to complex and knotty problems. We reject the theory, currently receiving much attention, that there exists a “global Islamic plot.”

We protest the conflation of such different issues as international terrorism, Islamic fundamentalism, the barbaric regime of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the dictatorial regimes of Iraq and Libya, the war in Chechnya, the Balkan conflicts, the Arab– Israeli conflict, and so on. We also protest attempts to use the tragedy in the United States to incite religious and interethnic animosity, specifically to advocate hatred toward Muslim peoples. Such attempts will not make our world a safer place.

As human rights activists in Russia, we are particularly concerned about the predictable intent to use the new world situation to justify the resolution of the Chechen problem exclusively by force. Our view on the subject remains the same: the only way out of the dead-end situation in Chechnya is a peaceful settlement reached through negotiations. The resolution of complex problems by force can lead only to an escalation of terrorism.

This terrorist attack was aimed not only against American cities. A war has been declared against the foundations of contemporary civilization: against the principles of freedom, democracy, and human rights. If the peoples and governments of democratic countries heed irresponsible calls for revenge and retreat from their principles—then we can truly say that the terrorists have won this war.

—Moscow, September 12–14, 2001

Sergei Kovalev
Arseny Roginsky
Alexander Daniel
Elena Zhemkova
Oleg Orlov
Memorial Society, Russia
Elena Bonner, Jury Samodurov
The Sakharov Museum Center
Lev Ponomarev
Russian Movement for Human Rights
Svetlana Gannushkina
Refugee and IDP Civic Assistance Organization
Larisa Bogoraz
Ludmilla Alexeeva
Victoria Malikova
The Moscow Helsinki Group
Yuly Rybakov
Deputy, State Duma of the Russian Federation
Sergei Yushenkov
Deputy, State Duma of the Russian Federation
Yulia Goryacheva
Ida Kyklina
Valentina Melnikova
Russian Union of Soldiers’ Mothers Committees
Father Gleb Yakunin
Public Committee for Defense of Freedom of Conscience (The collection of signatures continues.)

—translated by Jamey Gambrell

This Issue

November 1, 2001