Sunday, Aug 17, 2008
South Ossetian residents and local journalists have launched their own investigation into claims of genocide perpetrated by Georgian soldiers. They accuse Georgians of attempting to destroy Ossetian graves and memorials to locals killed in earlier conflicts.
School number five is one of the most significant symbols of the long Georgian-Ossetian conflict.
During the South Ossetian war in the early 1990s, the local cemetery was occupied by Georgians, so the school's football field became a graveyard for Ossetian soldiers.
The latest conflict saw Georgian troops attempting to bomb the piece of Ossetian history, say locals.
Part of the definition of genocide is the destruction of the historical and cultural identity of a people.
"It's a cemetery of Ossetian heroes," said Dmitry Poukhati. The Ossetian, who spoke good English, showed RT's correspondent around the cemetery and pointed out the graves of local soldiers who had given their lives in the defence of Tskhinvali in the 1991-92 war.
A local woman described how one soldier buried at the site had been tortured and burned by Georgians for three days in an industrial oven.
One grave is inscribed with the words, "I am Ossetian." Poukhati explained that these were the hero's final defiant words.
"Georgians were asking him to say he was Georgian. But he said, 'No. I am Ossetian.' So they killed him," said Poukhati.