Saturday, March 10, 2012

Beslan Massacre

I find it quite interesting that there are two different versions of what happened at Beslan concerning rape.  Many (and I emphasize many) accounts, both immediate and years later, indicate that the terrorists raped children.  This would not be surprising; Islamic terrorists around the world have shown a distinct preference for this.  In addition, Russian soldiers had made frequent use of rape in Chechnya as part of their terror campaign, apparently with little discouragement from their officers, and it would not be surprising if the Chechnyans involved in the Beslan Massacre decided to punish one set of innocents for crimes against another set of innocents.  ("An eye for an eye will blind the world.")

Of course, this is a problem in almost any army--there are soldiers who take advantage of warfare for this reason.  Armies that punish it severely, as most do, still have a problem with it.  Armies that turn a blind eye, or actively encourage it, will have a huge problem.

Still, I found it interesting that the Wikipedia article about the Beslan Massacre says:
The lack of food and water took its toll on the young children, many of whom were forced to stand for long periods in the hot, tightly-packed gym. Many children took off their clothing because of the sweltering heat within the gymnasium, which led to rumors of sexual impropriety, though the hostages later explained it was merely due to the stifling heat and being denied any water. 
Yet the two sources that this paragraph (here and here) gives for this claim says nothing that indicates that the claims of rape were incorrect.  I find myself troubled by how many books and articles refer to this claim, which seems unfortunately quite plausible--and yet I can't find any immediate newspaper accounts that refer to it.  Can you help me?

5 comments:

Chris Byrne said...

You almost certainly won't; and you can guarantee any chechnyans will edit out any mention of it in wikipedia.

Cultural rape shame in the region is EXTREME (both islamic, and christian), and it will almost certainly never be acknowledged in local sources, or by Ossetians.

Mauser said...

Check the edit history of the article to see if it's been deleted.

John Cunningham said...

A quick google search on "Beslan massacre:" revealed several books, articles, and blog posts claiming eyewitness reports of mass rage of hostage girls. I also saw a presentation some years ago by Col. Dave Grossman, in which he claimed that survivors reported mass rape of the hostages and penetration of toddlers with AK.-47 muzzles. knowing the predelictions of Muslim terrorists, I think it highly likely that such horrors were enacted.

Rich Rostrom said...

Everything I have seen about the Chechnyan conflict indicates that it is not a case of demented jihadis out to slaughter infidels.

The Russian invasion of Chechnya was justified as a response to mysterious bombings of apartment buildings in Russia - but there is considerable evidence that the bombings were staged by Russia's neo-Chekist "Federal Security Bureau". Russian reporters who investigated this have been murdered, as was FSB defector Alexander Litvinenko.

The invasion was conducted with extreme violence and brutality. Russian forces used their firepower lavishly and indiscriminately. Poorly trained and disciplined Russian troops murdered, raped, and looted. (Reporters investigating this have been murdered.)

The Russians killed more Chechen civilians than Iraqi civilians were killed in the 2003 US invasion, in a country with 1/20 of the population.

And no one paid much attention except some of the jihadis. The Chechens are not motivated by Islamist ideology - they want the Russians to leave them alone. Some Chechens have been drawn into the jihadist network (they were seen in Iraq, for instance), but that's a consequence, not a cause.

The details of the Beslan incident are not known, except through partisan accounts. But I have read an account of the Moscow theater incident of 2002 by a foreigner who was a hostage. The Chechens offered to release all foreigners; the Russians refused. This witness reporting hearing of exactly one shooting incident before the Russian counter-attack. The Russians flooded the theater with powerful knockout gas, and then bungled the medical response - refusing to tell embassy doctors who came to treat their countries' citizens what the gas was. Nearly all of the hostage deaths were from the gas.

There is no comparable account of the Beslan incident, but there is a great deal of material suggesting that it was not a "massacre" and that most of the hostage deaths resulted from the extremely violent response of the Russian government

Russian forces bombarded the school building with RPGs, tank cannon, heavy machine guns, and incendiary rockets. No fire fighting equipment or ambulances were on scene till hours after the Russian assault began.

The assault forces sent included Spetsnaz and other elite units, but also ordinary police, half trained Army conscripts, and hundreds of self-appointed local vigilantes.

Russian official statements at the time and subsequent accounts are riddled with blatant contradictions and obvious lies. There were systematic efforts to exclude all foreign media from the scene.

Opposition members of the Duma and Beslan residents, including survivors and victims' relatives, are extremely critical of the Russian government's handling of the entire affair. Indeed, more than critical - suspicious. Some survivors reported that the attackers had weapons caches already concealed in the building. Many of the attackers had been arrested and released in recent weeks.

So I am very skeptical of lurid claims about this incident. For one thing, the attackers took hostages and made demands. Maybe they intended to kill all the hostages eventually - but they didn't, despite having plenty of opportunity. Less than a third of the initial 1,100 hostages were killed, and many, perhaps most, were killed by Russian fire or burned to death.

So - if they did not intend to kill the hostages, why would they commit gross sexual abuses in front of witnesses? It does not make sense.

Incidentally, about half of the attackers were Ingush, not Chechen. The Ingush are another local ethnic group with grievances of their own.

I'm no apologist for Islam, but I don't want to see "beastly-hun" fables circulating either. The truth is bad enough. Nor slanders against Moslems who have the misfortune to be targeted by gangsters (such as Putin).

Clayton said...

I confess that there are aspects to the Beslan Massacre that look like Russian incompetence, and as I mentioned, the Russian Army appears to have tolerated or perhaps even allowed widespread rape in Chechnya, which is a perhaps not unsurprising although horrifying response from a pretty immoral bunch to Chechnyan terrorism.

There is very little that leaves me angrier than seeing one set of innocents terrorized in response to another set of innocents being terrorized. Hence my use of the Gandhi quote. If you can't get to the monsters doing evil, don't pick on people who have the misfortune to be members of the same ethnicity or nation.

And yes, there are many aspects of the Russian behavior that suggest that brutality has not helped them to win friends, or at least keep people neutral in that battle. That's why I am curious as to the very odd combination of both indirect denial and victim accounts that seem to indicate that it really did happen. Certainly, the history of terrorism, and specifically Muslim terrorism worldwide has included a lot of rape: it's justified by Surah 23:1-6, which allows Muslims to have sex with their slaves.