August 1-2, the Second World Congress of Crimean Tatars was held in Ankara.
The news agency QHA offers its readers an English version of Mustafa Jemilev’s speech, the leader of the Crimean Tatar People, the deputy of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the Commissioner of the President of Ukraine for the Affairs of the Crimean Tatar People.
Honorable Delegates of the World Congress of Crimean Tatar People, our dear Guests!
We are holding the Second World Congress of the Crimean Tatar People in a very difficult and dramatic days for our nation.
The nation, which suffered deportation, genocide, humiliating years of postdeportation curfew supervision and complete lawlessness in the places of exile, which fought with one of the most brutal regimes of the 20th century for their civil and national rights, for the right to return to their homeland for decades, with great difficulty returned to their land and began, albeit very slowly, to restore their rights to their land, it was again occupied, again under the rule of a regime, the level of hostility of which and anti-democratic character, resembles the worst years of the Soviet regime.
In the 21th century almost nobody expected a state especially being a permanent member of the UN Security Council with the right of veto, to violate the international law in such a brazen way and to trample all the contracts and obligations. Nobody expected the state to bring its troops to another country, to occupy part of that country, and moreover to attach the occupied territories to the territory of own state so unceremoniously.
Nevertheless, the Russian attack on Georgia in August 2008, which was followed by the occupation of part of its territory and the establishment on the occupied territories of the pro-Russian puppet "states" should have seriously alerted the international community and encouraged governments of leading countries to take effective measures to curb the aggressor. But, unfortunately, no serious actions were taken and no doubt it inspired the aggressor for new adventures.
Perhaps those days it were only Crimean Tatars who felt the imminent danger, because we knew the habits of the neighboring state very well.
At that time we stated that Ukraine should have taken the measures to strengthen its national security immediately otherwise the next target of Russia’s attack could be probably Crimea.
Those measures were the immediate denunciation of the treaty on the stationing of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, the suppression of activities of the Russian Consulate in Crimea on the issue of illegal issuance of Russian passports to Russian-speaking citizens of Ukraine in Crimea, the cleaning of the authorities of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea from pro-Russian agents, the suppression of the activities of pro-Russian political and paramilitary forces in Crimea fed by Russian special services, the relocation of Ukrainian military units to Crimea, which were able to withstand at least 20 000 military contingent of Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol and others.
But, as it was expected, almost no action has been taken, and Yanukovych's administration and his family, which were mainly engaged in plundering the national resources of the country, started to act almost exactly the opposite. The agreement on the presence of the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol for another 25 years was extended, the increase of military presence of Ukraine in Crimea did not happen, and even, on the contrary, a whole army of Ukraine has been brought into a state of total disability. Military units, which were stationed in Crimea, in accordance with the orders obtained from Kiev, were considering the Crimean Tatars to be the main threat of separatism. The chauvinistic pro-Russian organizations in Crimea have been strengthened, the Security Service of Ukraine in Crimea was absolutely infiltrated with the Russian agents, who almost entirely joined the invaders after the occupation of Crimea and were making great efforts to split the Crimean Tatars and to weaken the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People.
The overthrow of the Yanukovich’s regime in January last year, which followed after the shooting of about a hundred and the injuring thousands of our patriots by the Berkut and the creation of a new democratic government in Kiev have given a great hope to the Crimean Tatars. But as you know, in late February, the invasion of Crimea by Russian troops began.
First, the organized by the Russian Black Sea Fleet armed gangs of so-called "self-defense groups" and "Cossacks" captured state institutions in Crimea, primarily the Supreme Council and the Council of Ministers of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, the Security Service of Ukraine, the prosecutors’ offices and the police, and then the troops of the Russian Federation openly entered Crimea. As it was expected, the vast majority of employees of government institutions, including the employees of the Ministry of Interior Affairs, prosecutors’ offices, the Security Service of Ukraine, the courts and so on quickly surrendered to the invaders and started to serve them. They quickly removed from buildings of its institutions Ukrainian flags and hung Russian flags instead of them.
A few small groups of the Crimean Tatars, which the previous government and the Russian security services always tried to use against the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People to split the Crimean Tatars, also supported the invaders.
But in general, the Crimean Tatars, first of all their representative body the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People showed organized, strictly nonviolent and open resistance to the invaders. The Mejlis appealed openly to the international organizations, including the UN, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and other structures with the call to stop the aggression, to send the UN troops to Crimea, to take measures to curb the tyranny of the invaders. The Mejlis managed to secure almost complete boycott by Crimean Tatars of so-called "referendum" on March 16, and so-called "elections" in September last year in Crimea. The ATR channel, the only Crimean Tatar channel in the world, was giving permanently objective information about the events and outrages of the invaders in Crimea until April 1, 2015, that is until its closure by the invaders.
The Ukrainian flag on the building of the Mejlis was twice disrupted by so-called "self-defense units’ at night , but the Members of the Mejlis were hanging it back. Thus, this was the only Ukrainian flag in the occupied territory lasted even half a year after the occupation, that is, until mid-September of last year, when the building and all property of the Mejlis were confiscated by the occupation authorities.
The first steps of the occupants in Crimea were directed to take all media under control, to neutralize and to isolate those, who could organize resistance. Democratic freedoms enjoyed by the residents of Crimea during 23 years of Ukraine's independence, were almost completely abolished.
The occupation authorities do not shun any illegal methods to intimidate people and to suppress their will. Numerous arbitrary searches under the pretext of searching for weapons and "banned literature", huge fines for trying to realize own democratic rights for peaceful meetings and marches, arrests on ridiculous charges, plunder, or, as they call "nationalization" of the businesses, kidnapping and killing of unwanted people without trial and investigation, deprivation of almost all civil rights, including even the right for treatment at hospitals for those, who refuse to receive Russian passports - these are the incomplete arsenal of methods of the occupation authorities against the indigenous people of Crimea. For example, after the occupation of Crimea more than 150 searches of homes, mosques and even schools of the Crimean Tatars were conducted. Moreover, the vast majority of searches were conducted with gross violations of procedural law and abasement of human dignity of those, who were being searched.
However, some political demonstrations sometimes are permitted, but it depends on the nationality of those, who are going to carry out these demonstrations and only completely loyal to the occupation authorities. For example, Armenians are allowed to hold meetings and marches dedicated to the century-old events in the history of the nation, but the Crimean Tatars are prohibited to organize even traditional ceremonies on the anniversary of the deportation and genocide of the Crimean Tatar People. However, the Crimean Tatars can also get permittion to hold demonstrations, but only if they are aimed at supporting the occupation authorities, under the Russian flag and under the leadership of the occupation authorities and their puppets among the Crimean Tatars. That is all like in Soviet times.
The atmosphere, which prevailed in the occupied Crimea, quite eloquently, though not quite complete, is told in the 20-page report of the independent delegation of Turkish human rights defenders, which was investigating the situation on the peninsula during three days in April this year.
Hard discrimination and lawlessness against the Crimean Tatars, especially kidnapping and murder of young people, forced recruitment of young people to the Russian army with the prospect of sending them to war with their brothers, the complete absence of democratic freedoms and the lack of prospects in any way for the young people in the occupied Crimea force many people to leave their homeland again and move to mainland Ukraine. Today, despite of repeated calls of the Mejlis to endure the occupation and not to leave homeland, to our knowledge, at least 10 000 Crimean Tatars have already left Crimea.
There is clear and groundless impression, that lawlessness against the Crimean Tatars are committed with the aim of pushing them out of Crimea. At the same time, a great number of Russians are convoyed to Crimea both from Russia itself and refugees of their areas of fighting in the eastern Ukraine. The Russian press animatedly discusses the question of the resettlement of some 200,000 Greeks of Mariupol from Donetsk region, the Armenians and even the Jews (the former USSR citizens) from Israel, promising all sorts of benefits to them.
There were several publications in the media of the occupation authorities of Crimea that the Crimean Tatars, who are still in exile, were glad, that Crimea was annexed by Russia and quickly began to move to Crimea. In fact, it is an absolute lie, and everything is exactly the opposite. If during the recent years an average of 1.5-2 thousands people a year had been managing to resettle to Crimea, after the occupation of Crimea only 76 families have arrived, but none of them were allowed to settle in Crimea, as it turned out, that an annual "quota" has been reached, and they all returned back.
In short, roughly the same policy of ethnic cleansing of the peninsula, which was practiced by the Russian Empire after the first occupation of Crimea in 1783 is conducted.
There are special efforts used by the occupation authorities to eliminate the representative body of the Crimean Tatar People, the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People and to create instead of it own puppet Crimean Tatar structure in order to split the Crimean Tatars, to win over by various methods (bribery, threats and blackmail) some number of the Crimean Tatars to own side. Since they are not very successful, and it is unlikely to succeed, there is every indication, that the occupiers will try to completely eliminate the system of national self-government of the Crimean Tatar People with the help of conventional force methods.
In these circumstances, the role of the World Congress of the Crimean Tatar People and its structures in all countries, where they live, highly increases.
All activities of the structures of the World Congress should be fully focused on the protection of the rights of the Crimean Tatars People, who are under occupation, and on the provision with comprehensive support.
My many visits abroad to dozens of countries around the world, meetings with different government officials, diplomats, journalists and ordinary people have convinced me that very few people are aware of how the occupation of Crimea was done, and which regime has been established on the occupied territory. A lot of people really think that almost all the inhabitants of Crimea themselves wanted the occupation and annexation of Crimea, and now all are glad and satisfied.
One of the major tasks of the World Congress and our many-millioned diaspora in all over the world should be conducting intensive work to expose the false and multilingual Russian propaganda in all countries, to mobilize world public opinion against the criminal actions of the Russian Putin regime towards Ukraine, for the immediate liberation of the occupied territories and bringing to justice those responsible for the deaths of thousands citizens of both Ukraine and Russia, for the enormous material damage caused both to Ukraine and Russia, for the broken lives of millions of refugees and people, who became disabled for the rest of their’s lives.
It is extremely obvious for us, that there are no perspectives and never will be for the Crimean Tatar People not only for development, but even for the preservation of national identity and decent free life.
There will be no prosperity for the other inhabitants of Crimea, because the international community will never recognize the legitimacy of Russian annexation, therefore Crimea will be always in a state of isolation from the civilized world. However, the liberation of Crimea should not be held by military means, it should be held without the shedding of blood and the loss of thousands of lives.
The world community has enough mechanisms to force the aggressor to leave the occupied territories and to force him to reckon with the international norms of behavior.
In our opinion, one of the most effective measures to curb the aggressor is the imposition of harsh economic sanctions on it. I would like to recall, that the sanctions imposed on the Soviet Union after its invasion to Afghanistan, were among the main reasons that led to the withdrawal of troops from the country and the collapse of the communist empire. And if we consider that today's Russia for its economic power is not the Soviet Union, and that Russia's GDP is much lower even than of Italy’s with a population of nearly two and a half times less than in Russia, we can boldly expect that very soon Russia will no longer be possible to conduct such an aggressive policy. Russia will be forced to leave the occupied territories of both Ukraine and Georgia, which are huge economic burden now. But it is very importat, of course, that all civilized nations are to join the sanctions.
The Crimean Tatars during many years conducted uncompromising straggle against totalitarian Soviet regime not only for their civil and national rights, for the right to return to their homeland, but else for the democracy as a whole in the country which has been named as “Empire of Evil.” Putting lives and freedoms at stake, the Crimean Tatars fought against criminal imperial policy of the USSR all around the world, including those historical challenges when Soviet military machine used in practise such as tragic events in Czechoslovakia or war in Afghanistan; against usage of psychiatric clinics as a toolkit of reprisals counter to dissidents and etc. Again, when our Homeland is under threat and occupied by the successor of “Empire of Evil”, which once again in Crimea set a strong totalitarian and criminal regime, which pushes thousands of our compatriots to leave Crimea, perhaps we have a chance and a right to be considered for overwhelming support from democratic states all around the world.
We have a right fairly to count for support from the whole Islamic World, whereas nowadays the question of existence and development of one of the smallest Islamic nations of European continent is at the stake.
We did not understand when during a voting in the General Assembly of the United Nations on the 27 March of 2014 in regard of Resolution, which condemned occupation and annexation of the Crimea by the Russian Federation, out of 56 member-states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation only 22 member-states voted for Resolution and 21 member-states abstained from voting, 11 member-states intentionally were absent, and two member-states (Syria and Sudan) openly voted against Resolution in support of the occupant and the aggressor. We are very concerned about such indifference by many Islamic states towards destiny of Crimean Tatar People – Islamic people, which undergo one of the greatest historical challenge ever.
We believe, that true Islamic solidarity must be expressed not by means of so called shouted demonstrations or by horrifying terroristic acts against talentless anti-Islamic films, books or caricatures, which are, in fact, defamatory assault on democratic freedoms of people. With all respect, the Islamic solidarity foremost is to provide a real aid to all Muslims and, in general, to all people ,who are under mortal danger. However, in order to that Islamic states have taken some measures and even joined the Western sanctions against the aggressor, public opinion in these countries should be well-informed about current events in Crimea.
It is obvious, that for more effective cooperation and contribution to its people with the view of liberation of Crimea from the occupation, the Crimean Tatar Diaspora must put greater efforts and much actively participate in the civil and political life of Ukraine. The Ukrainian state, as we know, does not recognize double citizenship and such policy comes from concerns of national security. Nevertheless, taking to the account the situation with the Crimean Tatar People and its role of restoration of the Ukrainian independence, I do not exclude that Crimean Tatar diaspora will be granted with the right to have double citizenship after the liberation of Crimea from the occupation. In case, if the question about double citizenship will not be accepted, we still have a lof of opportunities, for instance, diaspora can use the Ukrainian Law on Ukrainians, who live abroad, which can include the Crimean Tatar’s diaspora as well. Received the status of the Ukrainian, who lives abroad, people enjoy almost all the rights of citizens of Ukraine, except for military service and the right to vote. Besides, now in the Ukrainian parliament a law is passed, that allow to grant Ukrainian citizenship to people, who sign a contract to serve in the Ukrainian army.
Now the question of the establishment of the Muslim battalion, which will be subordinated to the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, and will be mainly allocated in the border with Crimea and Kherson region is agreed. A fairly large number of Chechens, Ingush, Azerbaijanis, Uzbeks and other nationalities, who would like to make a contribution to defend the Ukrainian independence and territorial integrity have already expressed their desire to serve Muslim battalion.
The battalion can also be used to control of the passengers and goods on border between the annexed Crimea and continental part of Ukraine. Moreover, this battalion can be involved for the implementation and provision of constitutional order and prevention on the peninsula different types of provocations, after liberation of the Crimea.
In the same Kherson region, we consider it will be appropriate to concentrate all our compatriots, who are now forced to leave their homeland and settle in other regions of Ukraine. In this regard, we can achieve several objectives.First of all, living together in own linguistic and religious environment, they will have less risk of losing their national identity; Secondly, it will give an opportunity to build and open a national schools and religious institutions; Thirdly, it will strengthen the Ukrainian presence in this complex and largely subjected to the Russian propaganda region and finally, it will much facilitate the return of compatriots to their homeland after the liberation of the occupied Crimea.
The significant investments are needed in order to realize this project, to provide people with housing and jobs, to provide economic recovery of the area, which in turn will contribute to ensuring peace and harmony among residents of different nationalities in the area. I believe, that our diaspora could make an important contribution to the solution of these problems.
The governing structures of the World Congress of the Crimean Tatar People, once elected, will need to develop a set of measures aimed at de-occupation of Crimea, the security and development of their people, and then, in close coordination with the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people will immediately begin to implement them.
And finally, the last thing I would like to say from this rostrum.
There is a saying among all nations of the world, the meaning of which is that a blessing in disguise. So I'd like to list some of the positive moments, which have arisen as a result of the dramatic events, which took place on our motherland.
The courageous position of the overwhelming majority of our people and their representative body with regard to the occupation of the Crimea, and Russia's actions against Ukraine won great respect of people not only in Ukraine, but throughout the world.
The Ukrainian authorities also fully recognized, although somewhat belatedly, the role of the indigenous people of Crimea, and came to the unambiguous conclusion that after the liberation of Crimea from occupation, the situation with Crimea will not be in the old way. The Parliament of Ukraine has already adopted the Law on restoration of rights of deportees, the resolutions on guaranteeing the rights of the Crimean Tatar People as an indigenous people of Ukraine and on the recognition of the Mejlis and the Qurultay as the representative bodies of the Crimean Tatar People, on accession of Ukraine to the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples, the documents for the restoration of the historical toponymy of Crimea are being prepared. Two weeks ago President Poroshenko said in the Ukrainian Parliament that in the new Constitution of Ukraine the Crimean autonomy will be reorganized into a national-territorial autonomy, as the realization of the right of indigenous people of Crimea for self-determination.
But this is in the future, after the liberation of Crimea from the occupation. Nevertheless, today, we urgently need to be prepared for this future, when the national-territorial autonomy will be restored and where all people, regardless of nationality and religion will be equal in all their rights, where no nationality, no matter its number will be restricted in their legal rights.
And we will do it. With your help.
Thank you for your attention.