Ayla Bakkalli participated on Ukrainian Advocacy Day, within the capacity of an American constituent to Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, (Manhattan-D) and as Representative of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Ms. Bakkalli joined the Ukrainian American Diaspora and, along with members of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America & Ukrainian National Information (UNIS) who led the way in bringing the Estonian American, Lithuanian American and Latvian American communities to meet and voice support for Ukraine.
The participants met with Senate Representatives to discuss stronger and effective support for Ukraine and for the non-recognition of Russia's occupation of Crimea.
On June 14, 2017, was Ukrainian Day in Washington, DC which coincided with the passage of a bi-partisan legislation bill that would expand sanctions on Russia.
Speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament Mr. Andriy Parubiy was present as a guest of the Ukrainian caucus headed by Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio).
The purpose of the amendment is to expand further penalties on Russia. The US Senate voted almost unanimously 97 to 2 in favor of pursuing further penalties on Russia.
Large group of Ukrainian Americans, Baltic Americans and Russian Americans met Senator Rohrabacher, member of the US House of Representatives (CA) 48th District, former speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan who believes that US should have “friendly” relations with Putin as a way to find a resolution to Ukraine’s “conflict” with Russia.
Ms. Bakkalli conveyed directly to Senator Rohrabacher, given his service to President Reagan who is a symbol of democracy to the people of the former Soviet Union, that the Senator is waging a losing bet if he thinks that US can negotiate with Putin. Ms. Bakkalli cautioned the American Senator not to bet on Putin instead place it on Ukraine. Ukrainian Americans from his district conveyed their extreme disappointment given that Ukraine is losing blood and treasure in fighting for American and European values on its borders.
Ms. Bakkalli spoke of pending trial of Crimean Tatar Mejlis representatives and young activists who continue to remain in prison for rallying against the occupation in 2014. And, are being falsely charged, imprisoned and persecuted on a daily basis.
Ms. Bakkalli also mentioned that Deputy Mejlis Representative Akhtem Chiygoz is yet to receive a fair trial hearing given the "kangaroo court" set by the occupiers.
Ms. Bakkalli also spoke of Ilmi Umerov, a brilliant Crimean Tatar who was placed in forced psychiatric prison for opposing the occupation of Crimea. She spoke of Mr. Umerov’s situation on June 14, the day of Ukrainian Advocacy in DC. His trial was also adjourned despite the sincere efforts in preparation for his defense with impressive representation by indigenous Crimean Tatar Emil Kurbedinov, an award winning Human Right Defender as well as Mark Feygin and Edem Semedlyaev.
At the conclusion of the first day of Ukrainian Advocacy, H.E. Ambassador to the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, DC Valeriy Chaly along with US Representative Marcy Kaptor (D-Ohio), spoke highly of UCCA, UNIS and of the Ukrainian American Diaspora throughout the United States whose commitment in supporting Ukraine’s struggle for freedom and democracy received much acclaim at the reception. They attributed the successful passage of the bill in the Senate by a vote of 97 to 2 to the strength of the Ukrainian American Diaspora.
Ms. Bakkalli collaboration with the Ukrainian American community and organization have been exemplar and she is working hard to build effective American Crimean Tatar communicators on her next round of Ukrainian Advocacy Day in Washington DC.