Memory is the Fate of Proud and Free People!
“He stopped being a Marxist because he was accustomed to thinking things through to the end”(Sergei Kovalyov)
On 16 October 2007 we mark the centenary of the birth of Petro Hryhorovych Grigorenko, a person whose name is indelibly linked with the struggle of the Crimean Tatar people for their return to their homeland and restoration of their rights.
“Rats succeeded in exiling me from my homeland. However rats have no future”
These words are from the memoirs of Petro Grigorenko “In the underground you can only meet rats”, first published in New York in 1981. Forced from his homeland, Petro Hryhorovych did not lose his innate optimism, concluding his work with the affirmation: “We will return to our Homeland and see our people liberated from the infestation of rats!” Unfortunately he did not live to see the collapse of the totalitarian system and to rejoice together with the Crimean Tatars in returning home. His closest fellow thinkers are no longer with us. Genrykh Altunian who died in June 2005 said in one of his last interviews: ““I fear nothing. I am seventy years old, as they say, “over the hill”. I have seen it all. I do not except that I will experience anything worse than sitting day after day in the isolation cell of Chystopolsk prison. I am afraid for the country I live in and for the future of those dear to me. It was Bruno Yasensky who called on us to fear those who dont care. Please God that our people do not become indifferent.”
Mustafa Dzhemilyev, another long-standing fellow thinker and friend of Petro Grigorenko decided to give his colleagues in parliament a chance not only to renounce the stereotypes of the past, but also to prove that they deserved the high status of a member of Ukraines parliament. He was unsuccessful since a considerable number of National Deputies refused to give recognition to one of the legendary figures who dedicated their lives to the independence of the country whom the Deputies were elected to represent.
Who can blame me if I label such behaviour pitiful and repeat after Petro Grigorenko “rats have no future”?
“Till we meet again in the Crimea, my friends!”
Praise be the Almighty that this world is held in place by people with conscience and a sense of justice, with gratitude and by those who remember. Today in the Crimea as well as beyond there are hundreds and hundreds of Petro Grigorenkos friends. Thanks to their efforts and despite opposition from the local authorities, a bust monument to the General has been erected in Simferopol, and streets, Crimean Tatar settlements and one avenue in Kyiv have been named after him. I have no doubt that the events in honour of the centenary of Petro Hryhorovych Grigorenkos birth will be widely marked in the Crimea. The Crimean Tatar people, headed by the Mejilis will make sure of that. Perhaps by then those whom Mikhail Bulgakov gave the perfect diagnosis “muddle on the brain” will manage to come to their senses.
Petro Grigorenko never for one second doubted that the struggle of the Crimean Tatar people would end in their return to their Homeland. “Till we meet in the Crimea!” he would say when parting from his Crimean Tatar fellows. And he himself aspired to return to his Homeland till the last moment.
Petro Grigorenko found his last resting place in far-off America. People of different nationalities, Crimean Tatars, Ukrainians, Jewish people visit his grave to pay their respects.
They honour a Man who unstintingly loved his fellow human beings! For memory is the fate of proud and free people!
We are grateful to Refat Chubarov for allowing us to publish these very moving words, which form part of an article found in full (in Ukrainian) at http://www.cidct.org.ua/uk/studii/1-2(07)/4.html