A tragedy for the Crimean Tatars

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2014/03/09 • Analysis & Opinion

American Writer Sara Paretsky shares her cousin’s story about Crimea

As some of you know, my cousin worked in Crimea for over 4 years with the Crimean Tatars, trying to help restore the library that was destroyed by Stalin, along with their homes, farms and many other cultural icons. She had to leave Ukraine when the current troubles started, but she’s been in daily contact with her Crimean family and I’m pasting her most recent update here.

“For the last two weeks—ever since the Crimean crisis began—I get up in the morning in my home in America, turn on the computer to check my news sources in Ukraine, and then call “my family” in Crimea. From 2009 to August of 2013, I lived and worked in the Crimean Tatar community in Simferopol and have maintained close contacts with the people there and visited them often from my new Peace Corps assignment in Kyiv. When the Peace Corps evacuated all Volunteers from Ukraine the weekend of Feb. 23rd, I was hesitant to leave without having the chance to say goodbye to my family in Crimea, but we talked on the phone, and I reassured them I would be back sometime soon.

But that was before the invasion of Crimea. Now our daily conversations are filled with the shock at what is happening there and their ever increasing fear. I mostly talk with the son of the family who speaks English and is a 4th year student at the Medical University in Simferopol. He continues to attend the university daily but is surrounded by students wearing Russian flags and tries to keep as low profile as possible.

He tells of groups of Russian provocateurs coming to the Crimean Tatar communities, such as Ak Mechet where he lives, trying to provoke violence from the Crimean Tatars. His father now participates in the self defense patrols organized among the people to protect their community. He talks of the shock and despair of his father, who lost his grandmother and uncle in the Deportation in 1944, who grew up in Uzbekistan with the sole dream of returning to Crimea to build a house for his mother and bring her back to her homeland. He returned in 1990, squatted on unoccupied government land when it was clear that the Crimean government was not going to allocate the Crimean Tatars land, and began to build his home and community. Twenty years later he still continues to work on the beautiful home he has created and is surrounded by a community of over 2000 Crimean Tatars.

But now he, and his family, and all the Crimean Tatars, are faced with the specter of once again losing their homeland, of once again living under the thumb of Russia. It is hard for them not to expect the worst—that they again will be deported from Crimea by the increasingly Stalin- like Putin. As the days inch toward the March 16th referendum which the Crimean Tatars will boycott, the fear in the voices of my family increases. But also does their anger and their resolve to do whatever they will be called upon to do to resist the Russian takeover, to keep their families safe, to remain strong and united.

As an American who has had the great privilege of living in the Crimean Tatar world for a period of my life and who now calls Crimea and its people my second home, I ask the world to stay focused on what is happening there, to know that beyond the photographs of joyous ethnic Russians welcoming the return of Crimea to Russia, that there are 300,000 people in Crimea—the Crimean Tatars—for whom this is an unspeakable tragedy. And whom, I believe, will not go silently into the night.”

https://www.facebook.com/SaraParetsky

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  • chornajuravka

    Reblogged this on Voices of Ukraine.

  • Sevil

    Crimean Tatar’s constant plea from the Mejlis to Turkey and the West is falling on dead ears. Tatar diaspora in the millions are urging the Turkish government as Crimean Turks. Erdogan’s AKP ruling party will not intervene in order to protect it’s multi million dollar trade with Russia.
    The two countries vowed to increase bilateral trade to $100 billion by 2020. The figure reached $35 billion in 2012. The two countries are also finalizing a $20 billion investment by Russia for building Turkey’s first nuclear power plant.

    Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/11/turkey-rebuilds-ties-russia-regional-issues.html##ixzz2vSsc5V8s

  • http://twitter.com/david_tinney David Tinney (@david_tinney)

    Tweeted this on 03/09/14

  • Nicholas de Burgo

    The U.S. and Europe are making the exact same mistake with the Fascist thug Putin they did with Hitler. The Prime Minister Chamberlain way of dealing with dictators. It gets back to money just as it did with Hitler. Hitler knew he could get away with invading other countries because the U.S. and the rest of Europe were more interested in making money than the freedom and liberty of people. Putin is betting the same and it appears that he is right. All the U.S. and Europe are doing is encouraging Putin to invade more parts of Ukraine and likely other countries. Unless you stop him now, you are only setting the stage for another world war and this war will involve the use of nuclear weapons. If Europe does not move then the U.S. must act unilaterally. Cut off both diplomatic and commercial ties to Russia and blacklist all its companies plus no grain shipments. The military in Europe must be reinforced by bringing combat troops from Afghanistan.