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Work and worries of the Mothers of Beslan
Written by   
, 30 2012

ImageIt has been eight years since the tragedy. ‘Mothers of Beslan’ committee chairman Susanna Dudiyeva talks about changes in the lives of the victims in the terrorist attack.

What has changed?First of all, people have learned to live with their pain, their sorrow. Isay this about myself and those close to me. Thepain became not as unbearable as it was at first; it dulled to a certain extent. People started back to work and distracted themselves from deep thoughts. Somegot married, had children. After a calamity some comfort finally comes life does not stop and continues its course. Ithas big and small joys that we all experience as part of life. Among the victims of the Beslan terrorist attack there are some who are left all alone, but they find the strength in themselves to rejoice in the joys of others.

What has been done over the past eight years by the community organization the 'Mothers of Beslan', which used to be called the ‘Committee of Mothers of Beslan’?

Susanna Dudiyeva: Ican say with a clear conscience: a lot. Mygreat sorrow drove me to many good, decent, dignified people, with whom Ihave been with for eight years already, and together share our joys and sorrows, and together we fight for an objective investigation into the causes and consequences of the tragedy. Wehave learned a lot from eachother.

How did you get organized?

Susanna Dudiyeva: The idea for the ‘Mothers of Beslan’ organization belongs to Aneta Gadiyeva, whose oldest daughter Alana remained forever within the walls of the school. Ruslan Aushev rescued Aneta and her seven-month-old baby daughter Milana, as well as other mothers with babies. Themental suffering Aneta went through to solve this dilemma to die with her entire family, or to save at least one child, she aloneknows

As an educated sociologist, she understood that the victims of the terrorist attack should be organized in order to ensure the objectivity of the investigation into the tragedy. Overtime, the main tasks of the committee of the Mothers of Beslan were increased with issues pertaining to social and medical rehabilitation for the victims of the terrorist attack. Wecould not “sit at home and quietly cry into our pillows,” as the officials told us we should. Weraised healthy, beautiful, and worthy children, and so we must carry their memory through life with every bit as worthily. Andwhat we never managed to do for them, we did not see them through to adulthood; we will have to do this for the children who survived this terror. Dothis for other unhappy parents, many of whom are handicapped, whose psychological barriers do not allow them to lead people in the name of the truth. Weunderstand that this is a grief that is impossible to accept, but from which to one must learn a lesson, both the government, and society must learnthis.

We have gone through such hardships, of which one could scarcely imagine. Insults, gossip, and slander against us the whole nine yards. Compared to the grief we have experienced, however, compared with placing our children into their graves, this is not so bad. Worthily we made it through this, we did not grow bitter. Wewere not broken. Wecontinued our work. Weensured that the child hostages got into the nation's universities after graduation.

Last year, a delegation from the Mothers of Beslan met with then President Medvedev. Whatissues were discussed, and what has changed since then?

Susanna Dudiyeva: During the meeting with Medvedev on June 1st, 2011, we were able to get a program designed to provide housing for victims of the terrorist attack. Theprocess is slow, but Ithink that in the next two or three years all former hostages and the families of the victims of the terrorist attack will receive housing. Wejust need to be patient. Theprogram is funded from the federal budget.

We complained about the protracted investigation into the terrorist attack. Wetold how we are not satisfied that the investigative team is not working according to our petitions, that it is not re-questioning members of the operational headquarters. ThePresident said that he cannot influence the course of the investigation, but has promised to give impetus to accelerate it. Wedo not see this “momentum”, however.

We raised the problems in treatment for severely wounded Marina Duchko, Natasha Satsaeva, Diana Murtazova, Fatima Dzgoeva, Bella Avsanova, and Zalina Huzmieva. Theyhave become disabled. ThePresident gave us hope in that organizing treatment for them in the best clinics of the country would be no problem. Forsome reason, however, it has been a big problem for our Ministry of Health. Weraised other issues related to the provision of treatment at a sanatorium for victims of the terrorist attack.

(Alan Adyrkhayev, who lost his wife in the terrorist attack, joins the conversation. Asa physician, he has voluntarily taken upon himself the heavy burden of responsibility for organizing medical rehabilitation for the former hostages):

Alan Adyrkhayev: First of all, we were hoping that we could help the most seriously ill patients wheelchair-bound Marina Duchko, Natasha Satsaeva, and Diana Murtazova, as well as Zalina Huzmieva, Fatima Dzgoeva, and Bella Avsanova. InMarch the Russian Health Ministry sent an official document allowing rehabilitation for Duchko, Satsaeva, and Avsanova. Theyeven indicated which sanatoria would accept them. Avsanova was supposed to go to Pyatigorsk in June. Theyissued her a sanatorium card by sending the document to her father. TheMinistry of Health of the Republic (of Ossetia) was not even made aware of the letter from the Moscow branch of the national social security fund, and therefore the required funding for the sanatorium treatment for Avsanova was not provided, and of course, she did not go, and so our efforts and that of her relatives had been in vain. Asfar as Duchko and Satsaeva, they say that perhaps they will be sent in October or November

Time has been wasted. Thisyear, not one of the victims got a trip to the sanatorium.

What is being done by local authorities in terms of the organization of medical care of victims in the terrorist attack?

Susanna Dudiyeva: After our appeal to the head of the Republic and the Russian Ministry of Health, we were able to get organized treatment for the victims at the new medical center. Wehave not been able to get victims of the Beslan terrorist attack priority for treatment and examination, however, and for now they are in the general queue. Alexander Reutov, who knows firsthand about the tragedy in Beslan and knows about all our problems, heads the center, and so he tries to avoid any red tape in the treatment of our people. Ifthere is a change of leadership at the medical center, though Thatis why we are fighting to changes to the charter.

Last year Aneta Gadiyeva met with the then Minister of Health and Social Development Tatiana Golikova, and as a result got permission to develop a draft tripartite agreement on the organization of sanatorium treatment for victims at health centers in the Russian Federation. Theagreement is between the Ministry of Health and Social Development of Russia, the North Ossetia-Alania Ministry of Health, and the ‘Mothers of Beslan’ committee. Thedocument has been drawn up and is now in the process of being signed.

What is the situation with the investigation into the main case of the terrorist attack?

Susanna Dudiyeva: We continue collecting materials for investigation and we cooperate with the investigative team. Wemay not always hit it off, we argue, and we write up each other, but we are trying to make sure that our claims are substantiated.

Every three months the investigation is extended for another three months. Overthe last eight years it has been put off 32times. Their motivation is that they are continuing to collect evidence. Theyare basically questioning over and over again those hostages and witnesses who testified that tanks, flamethrowers, and grenade launchers fired upon the school. Theyare forcing people to change their testimony; they are acting on them mentally, psychologically. Theysay, ‘so you say who it was exactly that was killed by a tank shell? Youare committing slander.’ It should not be allowed to exert such psychological pressure on witnesses.

A few years ago, you sent the documents to the European Court of Human Rights.

Susanna Dudiyeva: We sent a complaint to Strasbourg, to the European Court of Human Rights, a complaint about the unfair investigation. Weare not demanding non-pecuniary damages from the government. Weare asking for an objective, international investigation. InMarch began the communication phase of our complaint. Theysent us a statement with their understanding of the questions about the tragedy. Inorder to confirm their findings concerning the organization of measures ensuring the security of citizens before the terrorist attack and the operational plan for rescuing the hostages, we are being asked questions, as are the authorities and other agencies. Ibelieve that their questions are correct. Weput these same questions to the leadership of the Right Bank and Malgobek police departments during the trial of the terrorist Kulayev.

We do not crave blood, but we want the punishment of those irresponsible officials and generals who were guilty of allowing such a tragedy to happen. People should know their names, so that will be lesson to other officials, so that they will relate to their direct responsibilities more responsibly, and so that people can live more peacefully.

Do the ‘Mothers of Beslan’ have any interaction with anti-terrorist organizations in other countries?

Susanna Dudiyeva: Members of the ‘Mothers of Beslan’ committee have been invited to various international conferences and forums dedicated to terrorism. Lastyear in Madrid Marina Pak participated in a conference of victims of terrorist attacks in Spain. Aneta Gadiyeva took part in the Congress of Victims of Terrorist Attacks in France. These visits help us gain experience on certain organizational issues, and we understand that we must actively join in international efforts to combat terrorism, to consolidate victims of terrorist attacks in social rehabilitation and in the organization of memorial days. Theexperience of the foreign organizations has been very helpful in ourwork.

We are not in opposition to the government, but we want the government to work properly so that it is more concerned about the people, about the social stratum that is called “victims of terrorist acts” the weak and thesick.

It is known that Beslan honors with gratitude the memory of those Special Forces soldiers who saved hostages at the cost of their own lives.

Susanna Dudiyeva: The people of Beslan cannot forget the heroism of the warriors from ‘Alpha’ and ‘Vympel’, those men who risked their lives, saved our children. Tenof them were killed. Astreet in Beslan was named in their honor. There will be plaques for each of them at the school at the location of their deaths. Colonel Razumovsky determined this. There is a monument in the ‘City of Angels’. Weare always in touch with the families of the fallen heroes, veterans of the Special Forces who were involved in the operation to rescue the hostages. Every year they come to Beslan to honor their dead relatives and friends, to lay wreaths and flowers at the school and at their memorial in the cemetery.

Two or three years ago, before these September days, your daughter Zarina (also a former hostage) said, almost in tears: “What Iwant is that September 1st never came!” What feelings and thoughts do you have on the eve of the anniversary of the tragedy?

Susanna Dudiyeva: A worsening of the pain. Iremember that my dead child is no longer with me, and never will be, that his dreams, and my dreams for him, never came true. Nowmy Zaur would have been twenty-one Hewould have been a grown man with plans for life. Among his friends who escaped are those who already have families. WhenSeptember is approaching, you realize with particular keenness that everything has been destroyed. Andso we hate September for us it is very hard. Isee this with my friends in Beslan, with people whose fates were affected by this tragedy.

Neither I, nor my daughter Zarina, wish to experience this September, but life gives us all certain joys. OnSeptember 1st her baby, my first grandson Daniel, will be exactly one month old, but this great sorrow somehow obscures this great joy. David Valiev, a former hostage who was seriously wounded, got married. Recently he also had a child. There was a child in the Tsinoyev family, and there will even be joy in the lives of mothers who lost their children in this terrible tragedy, and other joys will fill the hearts of others, and rightly so. Thatis as it shouldbe.

North Ossetian information portal ‘15th Region’

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