Crimean Tatar leaders, NGOs meet in Turkey, pledge to seek justice for repression

The presidium of the Platform of Crimean Tatars. Photo by Gungor Yavuzaslan&Nedim Ergun Kirimli 

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Article by: Alya Shandra

On 4-5 April 2015, 43 Crimean Tatar organizations dubbed the “Platform of Crimean Tatar organizations” met in Ankara, Turkey and adopted a resolution, as reported by QHA. This meeting happened only a few days after ATR, the only Crimean Tatar channel in the world, was silenced by the Russian occupation regime, following a year of repressions against the community that is the most outspoken against Russia’s occupation of Crimea.

The meeting was held with the participation of Crimean Tatar veteran leader Mustafa Dzhemilev and Refat Chubarov, head of the Tatar representative organ, the Mejlis. Both leaders have been banned from entering their native homeland for five years by the occupation authorities. The resolution adopted after the meeting claims that the year of Russian occupation had “annihilated” the national and democratic rights of Crimean Tatars and, as they claim, the main human freedoms – freedom of thought, expression, press, establishment, job, movement, and the right to conscientious objection:

  • Crimean Tatar leaders have been deported from their motherland;
  • Mr. Ahtem Çiygöz, the Vice President of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, has been arrested and is still in prison;
  • The only Crimean Tatar TV channel ATR and other media institutions run and owned by Crimean Tatars had been shut down;
  • Russian citizenship has become de-facto obligatory, as people who do not hold Russian passports are deported and fired;
  • Crimean Tatar young people are forced to do military service in the Russian army.
For a more detailed overview of Russia’s repressions against Crimean Tatars, please see this timeline of repressions against Crimean Tatars 
 The Platform held that perpetrators of these crimes should be tried in international courts, for which a commission in the International Court of Justice should be established, and that sanctions against Russia should increasingly continue until the occupation of Crimea comes to an end. To hasten the end of the occupation, those assembled agreed on 17 May to organize a huge rally in Turkey commemorating Stalin’s deportation of the Crimean Tatar people, as well as conferences and exhibitions to raise awareness about this tragic event.

180 000 Tatars were deported from their homeland by the Soviet dictator on 18 May 1944 to Central Asia; only after the demise of the Soviet Union did they start to return. Most likely, the Crimean Tatars will have no chances of holding such a rally in Crimea, as a top figure in Crimea’s occupational government suggested that instead of the deportation anniversary the Tatars celebrate a “day of joy” at Russian president Putin’s decree to rehabilitate the victims of deportation. Lately, Russia has experienced a troubling revival of the cult of Stalin, with 52% of Russians viewing the bloody dictator that killed from 34 to 49 million people in a “positive light,” testimonies to the horrors of that time being covered up with the closure of the only Gulag museum being shut down, monuments to Stalin being erected and plans to open a Stalin museum being made. 

Other plans of the Crimean Tatars include establishing a press organ in Turkey that will “proclaim the Crimean Tatar national struggle to the World” and holding the Second World Congress of Crimean Tatars in Turkey, the country with the largest Crimean Tatar diaspora, on 31 July – 02 August 2015; preparations for it are already underway.

The World Congress of Crimean Tatars is an international NGO uniting and coordinating the efforts of Crimean Tatar NGOs worldwide. Its first assembly was held in Crimea in 2009.

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Photos from the meeting by Gungor Yavuzaslan and Nedim Ergun Kirimli

 

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