Letter: Drop our genocidal 'friends '

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The Independent Online
From Dr George Hewitt

Sir: Radio reports today of the latest Russian massacre of Chechens, in Semashki, were followed immediately by notice of the 50th anniversary of the liberation by British troops of the Nazi concentration camp Bergen- Belsen.

Speaking on 20 January, Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd described the bombing of civilians in Grozny with needle- and cluster-bombs as "a setback on the road to reform", adding that Boris Yeltsin deserves our continuing support because of his bravery in mounting a tank during the attempted coup in 1991.

The only world leader enthusiastically to support Yeltsin's actions in Chechnya is Eduard Shevardnadze, the leader of Georgia, who said at Chatham House in February that separatism had to be put down with "all prompt and necessary measures, heedless of the cost and criticism". Shevardnadze himself caused thousands of deaths when he sent his forces into Abkhazia on 14 August 1992. Her Majesty's Government is happy to support the present Georgian government and has raised not one single word of protest about Georgia's resorting to arms.

What has happened to the principles that led, 50 years ago today, to the opening of Belsen's gates? How can Her Majesty's Government possibly sit back and contemplate in silence the genocidal actions of two of its "friends", when throughout the Cold War it proclaimed, with manifest insincerity, the rights of all individuals and oppressed peoples?

Yours sincerely,



14 April

The writer is honorary representative for Abkhazia.