“International Children’s Agencies urged to endorse Centre’s designation of terrorism against children as a crime against humanity.”
Beslan, Russia, 3 September 2013
The Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, was invited by the Russian Holocaust Centre to keynote an international conference on “Children – Victims of Terror.” This was held, in Beslan and the Wladikavkaz State University, on the ninth anniversary of the 3 day siege of 1,100 hostages—including 770 children—at the Beslan school in North Ossetia Caucasus, Russia.
Beslan became known around the world in the wake of a Chechen suicide operation that killed over 186 children and over 100 parents, teachers and rescuers. This total number is unknown due to disappeared and burned bodies of hostages and terrorists.
Samuels highlighted the distortion of religious principles of the sanctity of human life and the duty to protect the child in the Jihadist inculcation of a culture of death. He also focussed on the Nazi deliberate targeting of 1,5 million Jewish children, shot, starved and gassed.
The Centre noted that 30 years before Beslan, a similar attack on a school in the Jewish-Arab Galillea town of Masalot-Tarshicka in Israel. 25 children were murdered by Palestinian terrorists. More recently, a Jewish school was attacked by a Jihadist in Toulouse, France, leaving 4 dead.
Samuels discussed with the Mayor of Beslan, the Minister for Ethnic Policy (responsible for counter-terrorism) and the Vice-President of the Republic, the establishment of a solidarity platform of mayors from cities victims of terrorism against children.
The Centre will approach such cities to share the lessons and pain of these atrocities.
Similarly, all children’s welfare organizations from Save the Children to Oxfam, World Vision, Care and the Red Cross will be called upon to join “the Beslan Initiative” by endorsing the designation of terrorism against children as a crime against humanity.
“We hope that the 10th anniversary in September 2014, in the burnt out school memorial and the “City of Angels” cemetery (see photos) will commemorate all child victims of terrorism around the globe in the presence of representatives from the targeted communities.
We believe that this global platform would be a powerful voice of outrage at such acts to strive together that Beslan, Maalot, Toulouse, and all other long-grieving cities serve as a warning and not a precedent,” concluded Samuels.
See Below: Photos and Dr.Samuels' keynote message to the conference
Beslan childrens' monument
Beslan officials. Right to left: Valery Sirovatko (Deputy Minister for Ethnic Policy and Counter-Terrorism); Soslan Fraev (Minister for Ethnic Policy); Leonid Kesselbrenner (Vice-President of the North Ossetia Republic); Dr. Shimon Samuels (Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s Director for International Relations); Dr. Ilya Altman (Chair of Russian Holocaust Centre); Lt-Colonel Maxim Zhukov (Alpha Special Force which rescued many wounded children in Beslan school evacuation).
Conference on Children - Victims of Terror at University. Left to right: Dr. Shimon Samuels (Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s Director for International Relations); Alla Gerber (MP and President of Russian Holocaust Centre); Vice-Rector Kambelov; Vice-President of the Republic Leonids Kesselbrenner; Dr.Ilya Altman (Chair of Russian Holocaust Centre).
In the school gymnasium where 186 children died as hostages
Leaders of the Orphaned Mothers Association
With Beslan Mayor Ruslan Daurev
KEYNOTE SPEECH – BESLAN 3, September 2013
Dr. Shimon S. Samuels
When the Israelites arrived in the Land of Israel 3,500 years ago, they found darkness and evil. The city conquered by David – Jerusalem - where Solomon built the first temple, has a valley outside its walls - Gehinnom or Gehenna - signifying for Jews and Christians the place of “hell”. It was here that the Amalekites sacrificed their first-born babies.
The Patriarch Abraham was set a task of loyalty to God: to sacrifice his son Isaac, but was stopped with the knife in his hand. The lesson already illustrated the abomination in deliberately harming children.
Eighty years ago, a new Amalek appeared - Adolf Hitler - who deliberately targeted Jewish children. 1.5 million were shot, gassed and starved. The total annihilation of a people through the murder of its children is to include the slaughter of all the unborn future generations.
A pristine principle of monotheism – Jewish, Christian or Muslim – is the sanctity of human life and the protection of the child. We today are victims of a Jihadist terrorism that has distorted that principle, for its mission of martyrdom includes the recruitment of children as agents of terror and violence.
In the Iran-Iraq war, children were given plastic keys as talismans - the entry key to Paradise. They wore the key around their necks as they were sent by Iran’s Basij through the Iraqi minefields to clear the way for the military to follow. When the soldiers protested they had to pass through the children’s body parts on the way to the front, the Republican guard before departure wrapped the children tightly in blankets so that their limbs would not spread beyond the exploded mines.
These children were as much the victims of jihad as those killed in acts of terrorism. Our Centre monitors the internet sites whereby they are inculcated and recruited to a culture of death.
Beslan became known worldwide in September 2004 as a victim of atrocity. 1,100 hostages of Chechen Jihadists, prisoners in a school gymnasium on the first day of the new school year - 770 children, the rest were parents, families and teachers.
On the third day, at least 186 children and over 200 adults perished in a blaze of explosions. The statistics suggested many more, due to the missing and incinerated bodies of rescuers and terrorists.
Thirty years before, in 1974, a similar attack took place on a school in the mixed Jewish and Arab Galilee village of Ma’alot-Tarshiha in Israel, leaving 25 child victims.
Only last year, the Jewish school of Toulouse was attacked by a French-born Jihadist, with four dead, the Target in each case was children.
Our Centre is suggesting for next year’s 10th anniversary of Beslan, the establishment of a platform of solidarity of the mayors of such long grieving cities around the world, beginning with Beslan, Ma’alot and Toulouse.
Where Jihadism celebrates death we must accentuate life, but also sensitize the world to impending danger. To that end, our Centre, in 2003 drafted a Convention to designate suicide terrorism as a “crime against humanity” – as the most costly form of terror in lives, especially of children.
The document presented the concept that the chain of terror begins with those who preach, inculcate, finance, arm, shelter or glorify such murder are all complicit. This would allow for those to be pursued by INTERPOL and to be prosecuted in third-country jurisdictions. Such is the case for the six Iranians implicated in the 1994 bombing of the Jewish Centre in Buenos Aries, leaving 85 dead and over 300 maimed-many of whom were children.
If the Convention would have been ratified in 2003, those who planned and sent the killers to Beslan, would not have had tranquil lives.
The late Simon Wiesenthal made clear; “There can be no impunity for mass murder or terrorism, nor a time limit for the prosecution of the perpetrators”.
From this podium in this place, on this day of commemoration, we invite all children’s welfare NGOs: Save the Children, World Vision, Oxfam, Care, the Red Cross to endorse our call “to criminalize terrorism as a crime against children, whether by recruitment as bombers or as victims of attacks”. The Child Rights International Network (CRIN) worked with the UN on a “study of violence against children “, to produce a detailed picture of the nature, extent and causes of violence against children and to propose clear recommendations for action to prevent and respond to it. The Report focussed on violence in the home, poverty, schools, the justice system, the workplace and the community.
Now we must include terrorism, so that Beslan, Ma’alot, Toulouse and other victim cities that have fallen to terror against schools and children – may serve as a warning and not as a precedent.