In Russia, on 01 September is the Day of Knowledge, a joyous annual event marks the beginning of the new school year. But the Day of Knowledge 2004 was different in the School No. 1 in Beslan: A group of heavily armed rebel extremists stormed the school, with more than a thousand children and adults hostage in a hot gymnasium for three days.
The siege ended on September 3 terrible series of explosions and a hail of gunfire that killed nearly 350 people – half of them children. With heartbreaking interviews with survivors more than a dozen young people, and chilling scenes shot by the kidnappers themselves, the children of Beslan investigated the devastating effects of violent conflict on children.
Through the words of those who have been orphaned and deprived of family and friends, details of the 57-hour siege arise from the first moments of confusion, when students heard noises they thought were balloons popping, to the hours and days of numbness in the overheated gym, devastating the last hours, when bombs attached to the walls and suspended ceiling was gone, and hundreds of hostages in panic, bullets flying around him, began to climb the bodies of victims to safety.
Aged 6 to 12, the children relate the events that have stolen their family, friends and innocence – describing experiences that are chillingly familiar. The Beslan siege ultimately killed more children and adults that the tragic 2002 siege of a Moscow theater by Chechen extremists.
Most children today survive studies in another school in the city, as some parents fear that accompany even the school. The scars of children, seen and unseen, remain. “I have fewer friends than before,” says Carat. “Those who survived – boys are not the same fun as before, we are serious now. We’re adults. … Do not fight anymore Even young children became adults. Children understand everything.”
Children of Beslan shows the impact of violent conflict in which rarely heard from, but often the most deeply affected by their consequences: children.