WASHINGTON (QHA) -

More than a dozen Ukrainian Americans from Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia and, American Crimean Tatars represented by Ayla Bakkalli,  Member of the World Congress of Crimean Tatars and US Representative of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, joined "Ukrainian Days" advocacy event on Capitol Hill March 8-9, 2017 and met with Members of Congress and Senate to develop closer communication aiming to promote immediate action regarding the crisis in Eastern Ukraine and, to explain the violation of human rights of the indigenous Crimean Tatars in occupied Crimea.

Ayla Bakkalli notes, Crimean Tatars have entered the 3rd year of the occupation of Crimea by the Russian Federation. Given the new incoming administration of President Donald J. Trump comprised of new/prior members of the 115th US Congress, it is critical that the Crimean Tatars, as Americans with connections to their homeland, express their deep concern and have been following closely to what is happening to the indigenous Crimean Tatars in occupied Crimea and, the military incursions into Eastern Ukraine causing deaths and causalities at an alarming rate.

 As Americans and, as their respective constituents, the Crimean Tatar and Ukraine representatives requested that the STAND for Ukraine Act be codified viz a viz the 2014 sanctions levied against Russia through executive orders into U.S. law, which would make it more difficult for any incoming administration to unravel the already placed resolutions made by the prior Congress and the Senate.

Ms. Bakkalli, as an indigenous Crimean Tatar representative, had a meeting at the Office of New York State Senator Chuck Schumer who is now the Senate minority leader, and made a strong statement on imposing greater sanctions against Russia and that the sanctions under no circumstance can be lifted or relaxed until Crimea is reunited with Ukraine and its indigenous people.

Ms. Bakkalli further communicated the ongoing daily persecution of the indigenous Crimean Tatars that increasingly become more systematic even though the media does not prioritize it as forefront news.

Ms. Bakkalli also met briefly with Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and brought the issues of the Crimean Tatars to the halls of Congress in particular, on House Resolution H.R.463 - which says that Crimea Annexation non-recognition Act will not recognize either the "de jure or de facto sovereignty of the Russian Federation over Crimea and, its airspace, and, its territorial waters".

The Mejlis Representative pointed, that Congressman Connolly who is very important for American Crimean Tatars and Ukrainian Americans introduced this Act in 2015, and, again reintroduced it on January, 2017. It is a bipartisan resolution joined by Congressman Steve Chabot (R-Oh) both leading the resolution against the annexation of Crimea.

According to Ms. Bakkalli, this resolution is indicative of its support for and of the people in Crimea who have voiced their opposition to the occupation and believe just like freedom loving Americans, share same values on freedom and democracy which will de-legitimatize Russia's unjust claims over Crimea.

Ms. Bakkalli went on saying that continual meetings with Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar Representatives is key to keeping the issue on the occupation of Crimea forefront and is one of important and effective ways to pre-empt Crimea in becoming a "frozen conflict".

“One might wonder how can American Crimean Tatars make an impact given its small community size to that our answer is, in joining coalition of expatriate communities such as, with Polish, Lithuanian, Estonian, Circassian, Georgian, Syrian Americans who Russia continues to violate the territorial integrity and, who have fallen prey to Russia's aggression are now coming together in multiple diverse platforms. Truly the leaders in this endeavor are the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America and UNIS, its public affairs division.” Ms. Bakkalli states.

QHA