On August 14, 2013, QHA-Crimean News Agency published an interview with Idil Izmirli, conflict analysis and resolution specialist, Visiting Scholar at School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University and Jamestown Foundation Analyst, who specializes on the Crimean Tatar issue. In her interview Idil Izmirli talked about her current projects, Crimean Tatars and Diaspora in the U.S. and shared some plans for the future.
Please view the interview at: http://qha.com.ua/u-s-senators-are-waiting-for-reports-about-crimea-izmirli-129243en.html
A number of controversial comments and responses from QHA readers followed an interview.
Below, QHA is providing, in its opinion, one of the most interesting and informative comments by Mubeyyin Batu Altan, an American Crimean Tatar scholar, activist and leading figure in the American Crimean Tatar community.
With All due Respect…
I read Idil Izmirli’s fascinatingly self promoting interview “US Senators Are Waiting for Reports about Crimea” appeared in QHA/ Crimean News Agency on August 14, 2013. I like Idil’s aggressive style, and also enjoy reading her recently appearing articles about Crimea and Crimean Tatars. But I am forced to take issue with some of her statements in order to set the record straight.
First, with all due respect to her late father Ismail Noyan, Idil’s father was not the founder of the Crimean Cultural Association Idil claims he founded in 1950s in Istanbul. The late Ismail Noyan was one of many dedicated Crimean Tatars who had worked diligently to establish the “Kirim Turk Kultur Dernegi- The Crimean Turkish Cultural Association” in 1952.
Here is the list of founders of this first Crimean Tatar Association in Turkey: Ismail Hakki Okday, Ali Nuri Okday, Haydar Gaspirali, Resat Hayri Orluk, Abdullah Corgunlu, Ali Uzar, Burhaneddin Guler, Cafer Gulumoglu, Hamza Goktay, Cevher Cibis, Enver Malcan, Ejder Varansu, Fazil Ozarna, Hasan Maytapar, Ismail Guclu, Ismail Otar, Ibrahim Otar, Kemal Celik, Mehmet Goktay, Resat Akcura, Resit Turker, Selim Ortay, Turgut Teperdar, Yusuf Buyuksu, Aziz Bozgoz, Sabri Cansever and Ismail Noyan.
To state that her father was the founder of this historic association does great disservice for all the aforementioned founders whom we owe our great respect and gratitude. Another Dernek,The “Kirim Turkleri Yardimlasma Birligi” was established in 1954 the late Mustecep Ulkusel among the founding members.
Secondly, during her interview Idil Izmirli was asked “What does US think about Crimea, (and indirectly about Crimean Tatar)? Her answer was “Nothing, and when I get back I will work on it.” For someone who claims to be voice of Crimea, and an expert on the field it is an astonishing answer (the question was about Crimea, but Crimean Tatars are an inseparable part of Crimea.) She, with such a simple answer, has done a great disservice to Crimean Tatar- American the Community and to those Crimean Tatars such as the late Mehmet Sevdiyar, Fikret Yurter and the author of this article who have dedicated their entire lives to inform the American and world public on the plight of the indigenous people of Crimea, the Crimean Tatars. Let me give Idil and QHA readers just one example; it was partially the lobbying of the Crimean Tatar National Center that put Mustafa Cemilev’s name on President Ronald Reagan’s list of political prisoners in the Soviet Union to be presented to the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
It was the members of the Crimean Tatar National Center who continuously demonstrated in front of the United Nation, the White House drawing attention to events in Crimea and to the plight of its native people. I can go on and on, the list is too long for anyone who is slightly interested, let alone the expert (s) on the subject.
Thirdly, Idil Izmirli was asked about the Crimean Tatar Diaspora in the United States. Her answer was once again astonishingly insulting. By stating “They have a dernek( An Association) and a mosque, and most of them live in Brooklyn” Idil Izmirli, the self declared voice of Crimea (and indirectly Crimean Tatars), ignores the 52 year history of the Crimean Tatar Diaspora. She basically dismisses the Crimean Tatar-American Diaspora as unimportant. Let me briefly present some facts to set the record straight:
• This “Dernek (American Association of Crimean Turks)” established in 1961 in Brooklyn New York to promote and protect the Crimean Tatar Culture, is one of the oldest Turkic Derneks in New York. And it has been successfully promoting the Crimean Culture for the past 52 years without any grants or government assistance.
• This “Dernek (Association)” has been sending financial and material assistance to their compatriots even during the most difficult Soviet period.
• The political arm of this “Dernek (Association)”, The Crimean Tatar National Center (Crimea Foundation) has been actively lobbying for the rights of Crimean Tatars ever since the political situation in the Soviet Union allowed us to get involved more actively without endangering the lives of our courageous dissidents.
• The political arm of this “Dernek (Association)” published books about the Six Day Trial of Mustafa Cemilev and Ilya Gabai, about Musa Mamut, about Mustafa Cemilev’s political status (by Andre Grigorenko), and other books without any Grants or government assistance.
• The political arm of this dernek (association) was instrumental in the publication of one of the most comprehensive books on the Crimean Tatar National Movement “ Tashkentsky Prosses…” published by the Herzen Foundation in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
• The political arm of this “Dernek (Association)” erected the first ever Crimean Tatar Martyrs’ Monument in Mt.Sinai, NY in 1986 where the Crimean Tatar-American Diaspora holds their annual memorial services on every May 18 to honor the martyrs of Surgun. It is a historic monument as it is the first monument erected anywhere, including Crimea, since the Mass Deportation of May 18, 1944. (Idil Izmirli should know this well as she had attended one of these memorial services.)
• It was a member of this political group of this “Dernek (Association)” who launched the publication of the first ever English language Human Rights Journal solely devoted to Crimean Tatar National Movement, in Boston. This historic journal was published by its editor’s personal funds, without any grants or government assistance and sent to members of Congress, The President and Vice President of the United States, many Universities and Think Tanks etc. (Idil Izmirli should remember this as she did receive some issues of this journal)…
I can go on and on, with more examples of the significant activities of the Crimean Tatar-American Diaspora for the past fifty years. It is sad that someone who declares herself as the mediator between Crimea and the United States, the voice of Crimea in the United States of America, and an expert on Crimea and Crimean Tatars, has no important information on Crimean Tatar- American Diaspora to share with QHA readers. Hopefully, the QHA readers will now know that Crimean Tatar-American Diaspora is not just a “Dernek (Association) and a mosque whose members live in Brooklyn.” This Diaspora has been politically one of the most active Crimean Tatar Diasporas that significantly contributed to the Crimean Tatar National Movement.
Mubeyyin Batu Altan
Cocoa Beach, Florida
August 22, 2013