A Letter to President Dzhokar Dudayev

This Letter was published in Tygodnik Solidarnosc, No. 2(330), 13 January 1995. It was drafted by Zbigniew Herbert and signed by a number of Poles including several dozen prominent intellectuals, among them historian Tomasz Strzembosz, writers Marek Nowakowski and Jacek Trznadel, journalists Andrzej Gelberg and Jacek Fedorowicz, sociologist Jadwiga Staniszkis, lawyer Edward Wende.

Dear Mr. President:

The drama of the independent republic of Chechnya is being played out before our eyes. We wish to express our full moral support for your struggle.

This letter expresses the opinions of persons young and old, of students and pensioners, representatives of various social groups and professions; writers, artists, doctors, clergy, lawyers, workers, journalists.

Some of us believe in God; some believe only in human justice. We are however united in our conviction that violent solutions to the problems of sovereignty are demonstrations of man's barbarism, and that the triumphs of violence and lawlessness are illusory and short-lasting.

We Poles experienced many defeats and humiliations. For decades and totally alone, we too struggled to win back elementary freedoms, the right to live in dignity, justice, and political security.

Like you, we fought in the deafening silence of the world that surrounded us. The governments of the rich, democratic and powerful states accused us of destroying the order of things, told us that we were bandits, that we were anarchists who tried to destroy the balance of power in the world. We know all too well that the indifferent and well-fed people tend to see victims as criminals, and that they commiserate with the criminals, considering them victims.

You are not alone. We admire and respect those courageous and wise Russians who are protesting in the streets of Russian cities against their government that gave in once more to the imperial temptation in taking on the risk of a Chechen war. Those Russians know well, as do we, that those who try to enslave others themselves become slaves.

We believe in your courage and the unmatched generosity of your people in offering their lives for their country. We believe that you are in the right. A free Chechnya is only a question of time.

May the Almighty God give you strength and perseverance. People of good will are on your side. Warsaw, January 1995

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