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24.02.2007

Crimean former dissident and radio broadcaster receives State Honours “For courage”

   

Crimean former dissident and radio broadcaster receives State Honours “For courage”

In Simferopol on 22 February, Viktor Yushchenko personally handed the award “For courage”, First class, to activist of the Crimean Tatar national movement and former dissident Ayshe Seitmuratova.
To understand the stature of this person, who is unfortunately better known abroad than in her native Ukraine, one need only mention that during this month when Ms Seitmuratova has her birthday, she has received birthday greetings from the US Ambassador to Ukraine William E. Taylor, the President of the Petro Grigorenko Foundation Andrei Grigorenko and the Azerbaijan Ambassador to Ukraine Talyat Aliev. Around the festive event, widely celebrated in Simferopol, a book was presented entitled “Ayshe Seitmuratova at the microphone. Reporting on Radio “Svoboda”, a copy of which Ms Seitmuratova gave to each of the speakers.
Ayshe Seitmuratova has made an inestimable contribution to the struggle of the Crimean Tatars to return to their native land. As to be expected, she suffered persecution from the Soviet authorities for her human rights activities. She was tried twice, held in the KGB’s Lefortovo remand prison and imprisoned in Moldovia. In 1978 she was pushed into emigrating to the USA (Yelena Bonner, wife of Andrei Sakharov, helped get the permission). There she continued her activities defending the rights of the Crimean Tatars in international organizations. She met with heads of state and congressmen, took part in international conferences and worked freelance as a correspondent for the radio station “Voice of America”. She also broadcast in Russian, Uzbek and Azeri on Radio “Svoboda” [“Radio Liberty”] and the BBC where she spoke of the situation of the Crimean Tatars in the USSR and stood up for members of the national movement convicted by Soviet courts. In April 1980 Ayshe Seitmuratova spoke in the US Senate. She was twice invited to the White House and had a personal meeting with President Reagan, then in November 1980 she took part in the Helsinki Conference in Madrid.
Ayshe Seitmuratova returned to the Crimea in 1990 when the Crimean Tatar people began returning to their homeland in large numbers. She settled in Simferopol and having devoted enormous efforts and used all her connections, she opened a “Home for elderly people alone” “Merkhamet Evi” which she continues to run.
Lenur Unusov “Ekonomicheskie izvestia”, Simferopol (for www.telekritika.kiev.ua)

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