Crimean Tatar Mejlis initiates protest march to Kyiv
"We are on our land!"
The Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People is considering the possibility of a protest march to Kyiv. Nariman Dzhelyal, deputy head of the Mejlis has announced that this is one of the possible activities planned to mark the seventieth anniversary of the Deportation of the entire Crimean Tatar people from their homeland in May 1944.
A final decision on the march, as well as when it would take place, has yet to be taken, however a similar many thousand-strong march in 1999 spurred the Ukrainian authorities then to engage in dialogue with the Crimean Tatars and their representative bodies.
The seventieth anniversary of the Deportation on May 18 this year should serve as an important reminder to the authorities of the many problems still unresolved. Dzelyal says that many fellow Crimean Tatars support the idea of a march and believe it is needed, given the fact that the authorities continue to ignore the difficult situation that the Crimean Tatars are in. They want to make their demands heard directly outside the Verkhovna Rada and Cabinet of Ministers buildings.
Dzhelyal says that the Crimean authorities are not prepared to heed them, and they believe that the authorities’ attention can only be gained by large-scale protests and demonstrations of activity from civil society, hence the idea of a march.
Natalia Belitser from the Pylyp Orlyk Institute for Democracy points out that a large-scale march on Kyiv organized by the Mejlis in 1999 did lead to greater attention being paid by the government to Crimean Tatar issues; to a renewal of dialogue between the authorities and Crimean Tatars; and to a number of steps fulfilling the latter’s demands. The then president, Leonid Kuchma created a Council of Representatives of the Crimean Tatar People and included members of the Mejlis elected at the general congress of Crimean Tatar Kurultai.
The current demands from the Crimean Tatar’s include reinstating this practice or another form of legal recognition of representative self-governing bodies of the Crimean Tatar people. Adequate funding also needs to be reinstated for the State program on the return and resettlement of peoples formerly deported.
Laws also need to be passed on the rehabilitation of the Crimean Tatar people and on their status in Ukraine.
Another key demand is permission to hold an international forum on the security and development of the Crimean Tatar people in Ukraine which could gather funds needed to resolve the problems of formerly detained national groups.
Ali Khamzin from the International Department of the Mejlis is certain that the Diaspora will join in the protest actions, and that a march need not be the only way of influencing the authorities. The Diaspora, he stresses, has “shown itself to be capable of holding protests in support of our people and against the discrimination of the Crimean Tatars by the current leadership of the country. He says that there need be no doubt that such protests would take place throughout Europe.
According to Ihor Semyvolos from the Middle East Research Centre and conflict resolution specialist, Crimean Tatar protests in the context of what is presently taking place will have a multiplying effect, with EuroMaidan in Kyiv strengthening the demands of the Crimean Tatars and vice versa.
With respect to the Mejlis and the EuroMaidan protests, the following was adopted on Jan 28 in Simferopol
Resolution of the Participants of the All-Crimean Action of Protest Against Establishment of Dictatorship in Ukraine
Stop bloodshed and establishment of dictatorship in Ukraine!
Abrogate dictatorial laws adopted on January 16, 2014!
Restore rights of the Crimean Tatar people!
Preserve territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine!
Ukraine and its citizens are living through the most dangerous and tragic days since the proclamation of independence. The political crisis that burst out in Ukraine as a result of the sharp change of the foreign policy course made by the President and Government of Ukraine and denial of the European integration turned into an open and violent confrontation between the society and authorities.
For more than two months millions of Ukrainian citizens have been taking place in the Euromaidans in Kyiv and all around Ukraine, but were ignored by the authorities. Despite the honest and equal dialogue with the society the authorities initiated an open violation of the fundamental human rights and freedoms, including the laws, adopted with the cynical violation of the Parliamentary procedures and democratic principles, that limit the right to the freedom of meetings, freedom of speech and Mass Media and contradict the Constitution of Ukraine and international obligations of Ukraine.
During the bloody conflicts between the participants of the peaceful protests in Kyiv and the special troops of Police and internal troops hundreds of people were injured. The further escalation of the violence in the country threatens the establishment of the dictatorship regime and violence that could become a disaster for the whole Ukraine and its citizens irrespective of their nationality and religion.
The majority of the MPs of the Verkhovna Rada of Crimea were also among those who urged the society and country to the verge of disaster. They made the statements and appeals aimed at the separation of Ukrainian society and territorial splitting of Ukraine. During the last two months the authorities of Crimea sent a lot of residents of the peninsular to Kyiv, including the state officials.
The Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People as well as a range of Crimean public organizations uniting the people belonging to various nationalities made and make their best in order to prevent Ukraine’s sliding to the dictatorship, stop bloodshed and killing of Ukrainian civilians.
We, participants of all-Crimean action of protest against the establishment of the dictatorship in Ukraine,
- being the strong supporters of the development of Ukraine as an independent and democratic state,
- supporting and promoting the efforts aimed at the European integration of the Ukrainian society, Ukraine’s membership in the European Union – a family of freedom-loving nations of Europe,
- striving to stop an escalation of violence in the country and prevent the threat of the establishment of dictatorship i
- being aware of one’s responsibility for the destiny of all people living in Crimea, for peace and calm in the peninsular,
- supporting the establishment of the legal conditions ensuring the real equality of all citizens of Crimea
From the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine:
1. Immediate abrogation of the dictatorial laws adopted on January 16, 2014.
2. Immediate release of arrested prisoners and termination of the criminal prosecution of the participants of the actions of protests of the citizens of Ukraine.
3. Adoption of the Law of Ukraine “On the restoration of the rights of the persons deported on the national grounds”.
4. Adoption of the Law of Ukraine “On the elections of the MP s of the Verkhovna Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea” providing the legal mechanisms of the guaranteed representation of the Crimean Tatars in the Verkhovna Rada of Crimea numbering at least 15% of its composition.
5. Announcement of the early elections of the MP s of the Verkhovna Rada of Crimea in accordance with the new Law of Ukraine “On the elections of the MP s of the Verkhovna Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea” providing the the legal mechanisms of the guaranteed representation of the Crimean Tatars in the Verkhovna Rada of Crimea numbering at least 15% of its composition.
From the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine of the new composition:
1. Making amendments to the State budget of Ukraine 2014 providing the financing of the Program of the resettlement of the Crimean Tatars returning to their homeland in the amount 200 millions UAH.
2. Adoption of the official decision on the support and participation of Ukraine in the International forum ensuring the rights of the Crimean Tatar people.
From the Verkhovna Rada of Crimea:
1. Making amendments to the budget of Crimea 2014, providing the financing of the Program of the resettlement of the Crimean Tatars returning to their homeland in the amount 50 millions UAH.
2. Representation of “Qurultay-Rukh” faction in the Presidium of the Verkhovna Rada of Crimea.
From the Cabinet of Ministers of Crimea:
1. Ensuring the representation of the Crimean Tatars among the senior officials of all ministries and departments of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.
We believe that the demands we make and the measures proposed will promote the solution of the political crisis in the country, reformatting of the relations between the authorities and society, both on the national and republican level.
Adopted by the participants of all-Crimean protest against the establishment of the dictatorship in Ukraine