Crimean Tatars: News from the Crimea Action Group
The Crimea Action Group recently published a newsletter summarizing recent events and developments related to the Crimean Tatars. On 18 May 2015, participants to the commemoration of the victims of the 1944 Tatar deportation adopted a resolution which, among other things, defined this deportation as genocide. Ukrainian President Mr. Petro Poroshenko declared on that same day that he would always oppose the occupation of Crimea. Ms Astrid Thors, High Commission on National Minorities for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), "welcome[d] the recognition of the Crimean Tatars as an indigenous people by the Verkhovna Rada last year." The newsletter also underlined the continuously growing number of refugees and internally displaced persons fleeing their homes in the peninsula, among which are many Tatars.
Below is a newsletter published by the Crimea Action Group:
On the free side of Chongar (the administrative border between Crimea and Ukraine’s Kherson oblast), in Kyiv, the state and the society united to commemorate the victims of the deportation. In addition to last year’s Decree of the President that announced May 18 as the Day of fight for the rights of the Crimean Tatar people, Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine declares May 18 as the Day of mourning and remembrance at the state level.
On this day the terrible events of 1944, in memory of the victims of the genocide of the Crimean Tatar people, in support of the indigenous people of Crimea, which is again under occupation in the XXI century, in Kiev and other Ukrainian cities held ceremonies and mass rallies.
At Kyiv’s on Independence Square (Maidan) thousands gathered in Kiev to mourn and to declare their firm readiness to fight for the rights of the Crimean Tatars. The participants adopted a resolution in which they
- The deportation of the Crimean Tatar people in 1944 as genocide against the Crimean Tatar people
- Support for the Crimean Tatar people in a struggle for their rights as an indigenous people of Crimea and Ukraine.
- From the international organizations and governments of the world - to apply all efforts to force the Russian regime to stop the illegal annexation and to liberate the occupied Crimea and other regions of Ukraine;
- From the parliaments of the world - to recognize the deportation of Crimean Tatars as a genocide against the Crimean Tatar people;
- From the Ukrainian state - to give Crimea the status of national-territorial autonomy within Ukraine on the constitutional and legislative level;
- From the release of all political prisoners, including the Deputy Chairman of Mejlis Ahtem Chyyhoz, Ali Asanov, Eskender Nebiyev, Mustafa Dehirmendzhy (citizens of Ukraine who are kept in custody on charges of inspiring the mass rally of pro-Ukrainian activities in Simferopol on February 26, 2014).
The leaders of Ukrainian government, representatives of diplomatic missions, religious leaders, and heads of public associations turn out at the evening-requiem on the occasion of the 71st anniversary of deportation of the Crimean Tatars.
The President of Ukraine Mr. Petro Poroshenko states in his speech that Ukraine will never agree with the occupation of Crimea.
According to the President, we must think over the past events taking into account our new experience and honoring the memory of the victims of deportation. "We must honestly evaluate our mistakes. Ukraine made a lot, yet not everything, to return and accommodate the Crimean Tatars in their Homeland," the President urged to think about the future, when Ukraine will regain control over the peninsula. "We must elaborate a "road map" for the development of the national autonomy of the Crimean Tatars. Actually, it was needed already at the beginning of 90s. Probably, it could have made the events of the past year impossible," Petro Poroshenko noted.
Another important point of view is voiced by the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Astrid Thors.
“While there are limits to what the Ukrainian authorities can do on the peninsula itself, they have already taken steps to support Crimean Tatars in Crimea, and there is more they can do. I welcome the recognition of the Crimean Tatars as an indigenous people by the Verkhovna Rada last year. President Poroshenko, I also welcome your personal engagement. I now encourage Ukraine to take the next steps and adopt the necessary legal framework to enshrine the rights of the Crimean Tatars in law. My Institution has long pushed for the adoption of a Law “on the Restoration of the Rights of Formerly Deported People”. I have also advised you on a law stipulating the rights of indigenous people of Crimea and their representative bodies, which I hope can be adopted soon. Such a law would include effective participatory rights for the Crimean Tatars and pave the way for ratification of International Labour Organization Convention 169 by your country.
Other important measures include supporting Crimean Tatars who, like Ukrainians and others, have had to leave Crimea to ensure their own safety” – says Ms. Thors and express a hope that we can have future commemorations again in Crimea.
The context of the continuing occupation has led to a greater number of refugees and internally displaced persons in Ukraine. Of the 35,000 Crimeans who fled the peninsula, just over 20,000 are Crimean Tatars – says the Commissioner of the President of Ukraine on the Crimean Tatar People Affairs Mustafa Dzhemiliev. Although they have settled throughout Ukraine, the majority went to western oblasts – Lviv and Vinnytsia – because locals warmly greeted the Crimean Tatars there. Some are also seeking refuge in other countries, such as Turkey, Poland and others.