The hero teacher of Beslan

When terrorists seized a school in Russia, a 74-year-old teacher stayed with his students, demanded water for them and died to save their lives, says this story translated from Yediot Aharonot, an Israeli newspaper, by Allison Kaplan Sommer.

Children who escaped from the school told of how they owed their lived to elderly Yanis (Ivan) Kanidis, age 74, a man of Greek origin who worked as a gym teacher at the school. He was among the hundreds of teachers, students and parents taken hostage last week when Chechen rebels invaded the large school.

On Thursday, in what was an unusual humanitarian move in the midst of the horror, the terrorists agreed to allow a group of women and babies to leave the building. The commander of the terrorist squad, saw Kanidis — a sickly elderly man — and offered to allow him to walk free as well.

But Kanidis refused. “I will stay with my students till the end,” the teacher insisted.

“Whatever you say,” said the terrorist, dismissing him with a wave of the hand.

. . . On Friday, when the children began to lose consciousness from the stuffy air and their thirst, Yanis went to the terrorists. “You have to give them something to drink, at least to the smallest children,” he insisted angrily. One of the terrorists hit him with the butt of his rifle, but the teacher continued to yell: “How dare you!? You claim you are people of the Kafkaz region, but here in the Kafkaz even a dog wouldn’t turn down the request of an old man!”

His efforts bore fruit. The terrorist allowed the teacher to wet one of the bibs of the children and pass it around to dampen the mouths of the little ones who were choking from thirst.

The hostages who escaped told how the teacher repeatedly risked his own life in order to save the children. He moved explosive devices that the terrorists had placed near the young students, and tried to prevent them from detonating others.

According to the Israeli story, the teacher jumped on a grenade the terrorists had thrown at fleeing children, giving his life to save theirs. A story in the English-language Greek press says Kanidis was shot when he tried to dismantle a ceiling fan that had been wired to an explosive device.

Via Winds of Change.

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  1. I wish I knew who these people were that are changing the coarse of nations. Whatever progress could have been made in this troubled region is lost and I never thought anything like this could happen. Was this simply poorly thought out or did a militant group desired to force a declaration of war. Our world is growing smaller and we are uninformed.

  2. Rest in peace.

  3. Winds of Change has an in-depth backgrounder on this, suggesting that these children were chosen as part of the Orthodox minority, and that it is part of a push to create an expansive caliphate in the region.


  4. oops, forgot to post the URL