Article by: M. Bahadırhan Duranoğlu
I would like to thank Euromaidan Press for this chance to show my solidarity with Ukrainian people and contribute to their fight for freedom at least with humble articles that will prove that Ukrainian people are not alone before the tyranny of Putin. I see what I am trying to do as being Ernő Nemecsek, weak, alone though unyielding, the attitude that will sooner or later redeem the honour and bring the peace.
As I am writing these words, am listening to the song “Garniy, Cossack, Garniy”, and thinking of old steppes of Taurica, home to fierce warriors of all races, a battlefield that saw friend and foe, gallantry and debauchery, joy and gloom, bawdy drinking songs and laments for the fallen. Tatars, Varangian Vikings, Poles, Ukrainians; they all shed their blood for this fertile land throughout the history. Tides changed, sides changed; some stood their ground, some gave up, eventually a nation of the free Cossacks emerged, paying the price of freedom with fire, blood, sweat and tears.
Though I fancy history a lot, I think it’s unnecessary to tell the tale of the land to its inhabitants, who are more aware of its spirit and aura than myself, mere a history enthusiast. But I feel the need to remind some words of Atatürk, from a speech of His Honor, regarding deceased Australian soldiers now lying beneath Turkish soil in the aftermath of infamous Gallipoli campaign by the British:
Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives… You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours … You, the mothers who sent their sons from faraway countries, wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.
I tend to see that Ukrainian steppes are like the Gallipoli soil now: Poles, Tatars, Ukrainians lying beneath its soil as former foes and eternal friends, whose ghosts still wander the region. Perhaps the most prominent evidence is Mr. Dzhemilev’s stance: Tatars and Ukrainians, bitter adversaries of the past, are united once again against a common foe, as Khmelnytsky uprising once saw these two people ride together for the sake of freedom. Mr. Dzhemilev, or Kırımoğlu “Son of Crimea” as Tatars call him, is a bastion of the most curious and valuable “happy coexistence” practice of two different ethnic groups in the world. Victims of the “Sürgün” (the exile) understand the victims of the Holodomor, that’s all.
As this is my first article on Euromaidan Press, I do not want to write a “stony” analysis, but an emotional and personal message. And explain why I am interested in the Ukrainian cause and feel the urge to “do something, whatsoever”? Well, perhaps Kırımoğlu’s stance is the strongest influence, I see that the future of Tatars is bound to that of Ukrainians. But there is another reason: I am half Circassian, my mother is descendant of those suffered the Russian irredentism in Caucasia, lost their homeland and came to Turkey as exiles. Because of this family heritage, I witnessed that our household was very interested in the Chechen resistance of 90s, and therefore as I grow up, I studied on this matter and learnt a few lessons.
Dzokhar Dudayev, highest ranking Chechen-muslim general in the Soviet Russian air force, had refused to bomb Estonia, this was the trigger of the chain of events that led him to become the leader of Chechen War of Independence. When I recall the whole history of Chechen resistance, I see that secularist leaders such as Dzokhar Dudayev and Aslan Maskhadov, were freedom fighters, but islamists, Basayev and others, were a disgrace to the Chechen nation, eventually causing the resistance movement to lose its righteous ground, international and even domestic support, paved the path for the Putin’s Kadyrov. Rumours of a Basayev – GRU relationship, especially during Abkhaz-Georgian War, are curious, and when considered together with the fact that islamist movements made Chechens lose their support, one can even think that likes of Basayev were intentionally placed by a Russian agenda. Nevertheless, those who are loyal to legendary Dudayev are now called “Secularists”, supported by Dzokhar’s spouse, Alla Dudayeva, and led by Akhmad Zakaev, despising both the Russian backed government and so-called “Caucasian Emirate”. However, it is sad to say that, the Chechen cause is lost, lost because of intervention by the extremists and Islamists.
Ukraine faces a similar problem now: We all know that Putin supports far-right groups in different countries of EU, going as far as Jobbik in Hungary and Le Pen in France. I happened to read several articles by Ukrainians that tie certain far-right groups within the Maidan movement to Putin’s agenda, warning Ukrainian nationalists and patriots that they are being infiltrated by these “agent provocateurs”.
Therefore I see it is crucial to build and promote the “Ukrainian Cause” a movement supported by many ethnic, religious and political groups, not only Ukrainians. It is already visible that Ukrainian Jews and Tatars are happier with Ukrainians than Russians. This must be promoted, and people from surrounding countries should actively demonstrate their solidarity, in order to prove that Ukrainian freedom fighters are not radical, neo-Nazi groups but defenders of their freedom, fighting for a righteous cause. It is an honor, thus, to say that as a Turk, I am with Ukrainian people, who I do not want to see suffering the same fate with my mother’s family, only a few family artifacts from the long lost homeland, tales of old days, laments of the exile, and knowing that dreams to be free and peaceful in the Caucasian Mountains once again are vain.