September 01, 2005

Beslan: "...shameful for all of humanity"

Beslan wounds still raw:

Hundreds of mourners carrying red carnations and roses filed into the gutted gymnasium of Beslan’s School No. 1 today, gathering to commemorate the anniversary of the hostage tragedy that claimed 331 lives.

Policemen lined the streets of the small town in the southern Russian region of North Ossetia, and mourners had to go through metal detectors to reach the schoolyard.

As priests chanted prayers, some mourners leaned down to place thin wax candles and stuffed animals on the remnants of the gymnasium walls. Sobs could be heard from inside the gymnasium, where more than 1,100 hostages had been forced to sit amid bombs laced around the hall, enduring thirst, hunger and terror.

A large red banner decorated with white doves and the names of children around the world hung on one of the walls of the school. The sound of a bell tolling was broadcast through loudspeakers, following by mournful orchestral and vocal music.

“Of course, everyone, all Ossetians will mark this mournful day, the saddest day maybe in our history. How could it be otherwise? They shot children in the back – five years old, 10 years old,” said Sergei Zutsev, 65, whose nephew was gravely wounded.

The assault – which began a year ago today and lasted three days – by masked, heavily armed guerrillas stunned Russia and prompted President Vladimir Putin to make sweeping political changes. On the eve of the anniversary, Beslan residents vented their anger at authorities they say have failed to properly investigate the raid or hold officials responsible for letting it occur.

“This was shameful for all of humanity,” said Georgy Gutiyev, 73, whose 15-year-old grandniece died in the attack. “And what’s worse is nothing has changed. Except for the sympathies of the world, absolutely nothing has changed here ... And it’s completely possible that this will happen again.”

[...] [Susanna] Dudiyeva told reporters yesterday that a group of Beslan residents would fly tomorrow to Moscow to meet Putin and air grievances. But she said Putin was unwelcome during ceremonies that begin today “since he is responsible for what happened in Beslan.”

“He is the guarantor of our freedom and our security and therefore, the responsibility (for Beslan) lies with president first and foremost,” she said.

“The man who failed in Moscow, who is to blame for the death of so many people, should not be the president,” said Emma Kisayeva, 41. “It is our tragedy that we make czar and god out of the president. Enough is enough.”


Posted by Kyer at September 1, 2005 12:46 PM | TrackBack