Crimean Tatars Call On International Community To Support Their Right To Self-Determination
Decision of 6th Qurultay of the Crimean Tatar People «On Implementation of Right to Self-Determination by Crimean Tatar People in Their Historical Territory – Crimea»
March 29, 2014
The Qurultay of the Crimean Tatar People appealed to U.N., CoE, EU, OSCE, OIC, to nations, parliaments and governments of states calling them to support the right of the Crimean Tatar people to self-determination in their historical territory – Crimea.
The Decision of the 6th Qurultay of the Crimean Tatar People “On the Implementation of the Right to Self-Determination by the Crimean Tatar People in Their Historical Territory – Crimea”, adopted on March 29, 2014 at the special 2nd session of the national convention of the Crimean Tatars said.
The majority of the delegates of the Qurultay of the 6th convocation supported the mentioned decision.
212 delegates vote for it, 1 – against and 4 – abstained.
Full text of the Decision of the 6th Qurultay of the Crimean Tatar People
“ON IMPLEMENTATION OF THE RIGHT OF CRIMEAN TATAR PEOPLE TO SELF-DETERMINATION IN THEIR HISTORICAL TERRITORY – CRIMEA”
On March 16, 2014, the “All-Crimean Referendum” took place in Crimea that served a basis to the “Agreement between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Crimea on Admitting to the Russian Federation the Republic of Crimea and Establishing within the Russian Federation New Constituent Entities” that was signed on March 18, 2014. On March 21 the Federal Constitutional Law “On Admitting to the Russian Federation the Republic of Crimea and Establishing within the Russian Federation the New Constituent Entities of the Republic of Crimea and the City of Federal Importance Sevastopol” and Federal Law “On Ratifying the Agreement between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Crimea on Admitting to the Russian Federation the Republic of Crimea and Establishing within the Russian Federation New Constituent Entities” was ratified.
Since February 27, 2014, all stages relating to the announcement, preparation and holding of “all-Crimean referendum” was accompanied by a legal bacchanalia when the troops and military equipment were brought to Crimea en mass and checkpoints were built quickly in every entrance and exits in Crimea.
The various paramilitary organizations – “Crimean vigilantes” and “self-defense squads” consisting also of the Cossacks, who arrived from the neighborhood regions of Russia, caused the special tension and anxiety in the Crimean society during this period.
In conditions of a real threat of violence against the Crimean residents, whose positions concerning the status of Crimea differed from the position of those who organized and hold the referendum, and considering that the questions, suggested at the referendum couldn’t be discussed thoroughly in the Crimean society due to lack of time for the preparation and holding of the referendum (only 10 days), the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People called every Crimean Tatar and persons belonging to other nationalities to boycott all stages of preparation and holding of all-Crimean referendum and do not come to the polling stations on the voting day.
The objective analysis of the voting of March 16, 2014 in the polling stations testifies to the fact that the overwhelming majority of the Crimean Tatars did not take part in the referendum, following the suggestion of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People.
Many people belonging to other nationalities did not take part in the vote as well.
THE QURULTAY OF THE CRIMEAN TATAR PEOPLE:
- following from the fact that changing of the status of Crimea was made without the agreement and clearly expressed will of the Crimean Tatar people – indigenous people of Crimea;
- based on the generally accepted norms of the international documents, guaranteeing the right to self-determination - – the UN Charter, Resolution № 1514 (XV) of the UN General Assembly of December 14, 1960, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of December 16, 1966, Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation Between States in accordance with the UN Charter, adopted on October 24, 1970 and etc;
- based on the UN Declaration “On the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples” of September 13, 2007, in particular:
a) right of the indigenous people to self-determination (article 3),
b) right of the indigenous people to the autonomy and self-governance (article 4),
c) right to maintain and strengthen their distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions, while retaining their right to participate fully, if they so choose, in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the State (article 5),
d) military activities shall not take place in the territories of indigenous peoples, unless justified by a relevant public interest or otherwise freely agreed (article 30),
e) right to access to and prompt decision through just and fair procedures for the resolution of conflicts and disputes with States or other parties (article 40);
- based on the Declaration on the National Sovereignty of the Crimean Tatar People, adopted by the 2nd Qurultay of the Crimean Tatar People on June 28, 1991;
- confirming the strict intention to strengthening and further development of the relations between the Crimean Tatars and all ethnic communities, living in Crimea on the basis of the mutual respect, recognition of the human rights and civil rights and interests, equal observance of the political, economic, cultural, religious and other legal rights,
1. Announce the beginning of the political and legal procedures to establish (restore) the national-territorial autonomy of the Crimean Tatar people in their historical territory - Crimea
2. Order the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People to contact the international organizations – the UN, CoE, EU, OSCE, OIC, parliaments and governments of states concerning all issues of ensuring the rights of the Crimean Tatar people to the self-determination in the form of the national-territorial autonomy in their historical territory – Crimea.
THE QURULTAY OF THE CRIMEAN TATAR PEOPLE ADDRESSES
the UN, CoE, EU, OSCE, OIC, parliaments and governments of states to support the right of the Crimean Tatar people to self-determination in their historical territory – Crimea.
Adopted at the 2nd special session of the 6th Qurultay of the Crimean Tatar People
On March 29, 2014
To view the Appeal online, click here
Recent human rights violations in Crimea
- Crimean Tatars’ homes are being marked with crosses on their doors. A similar practice took place under Stalin’s rule, leading up to the deportation of 200,000 Crimean Tatars to Central Asia in 1944;
- Local authorities carry out unjustified passport controls in the streets of Crimean cities;
- Fearing persecution, Crimean Tatars keep their children home from school;
- Crimean Tatars, mainly women and children, are fleeing the region to seek refuge in Western Ukraine or Turkey, although most trains and airplanes are fully booked. They fear retaliation for being pro-Ukrainian;
- Three of the original organizers of a pro-Ukrainian Crimean movement have stopped their activism, disappeared, and been threatened and forced to leave the region;
- Journalist Ibrahima Umerova and a cameraman from the Crimean Tatar – run television channel ATR have been taken hostage by unknown armed men in Simferopol on 18 March 2014;
- A Crimean Tatar man, Reshat Ametov, missing since a protest on March 3rd 2014, has been found dead in Belogorskiy district of Crimea according to ex-head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, Mustafa Jemilev. His body reveals marks of torture and physical abuse;
- Among the few Crimean Tatars who chose not to boycott the March 16th referendum, several were refused to take part to the poll. They saw their passports confiscated or destroyed to be prevented from voting;
- Crimean civil servants were threatened to lose their job if they decided to boycott the local referendum;
 “Who Will Protect the Crimean Tatars?”, The New Yorker, March 6, 2014: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2014/03/who-will-protect-the-crimean-tatars.html
 Local sources’ report.
 “Crimean Tatars Wary of Russia Referendum”, The Express Tribune with the International New York Times, March 14, 2014: http://tribune.com.pk/story/682870/crimean-tatars-wary-of-russia-referendum/
 “Mindful of Past, Many Tatars Fear a Russian Future”, New York Times, March 13, 2014: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/14/world/europe/crimean-tatars-on-guard-against-joining-russia.html?_r=0
 QHA Crimean News Agency, March 18, 2014: http://qha.com.ua/voorujennie-lyudi-vzyali-v-zalojniki-jurnalista-i-operatora-atr-134268.html
 “Crimea: Disappeared Man Found Killed”, Human Rights Watch, March 18, 2014: http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/03/18/crimea-disappeared-man-found-killed
 “Predicting the Result of the Crimean Referendum”, Euromaidan PR, March 11, 2014: http://euromaidanpr.wordpress.com/2014/03/11/predicting-the-result-of-the-crimean-referendum/
 “For Crimean Tatars, one big Question: What Now?”, The Globe and Mail, March 17, 2014: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/for-crimean-tatars-one-big-question-what-now/article17521006/
EU Takes First Steps As Crimea Declares Independence
Eighteen days following the invasion of Russian military forces in Crimea, the crisis is far from being resolved and has, on the contrary, escalated further. On Sunday 16 March 2014, a local referendum was held to determine the status of Crimea, asking Crimean inhabitants to decide whether they wanted Crimea to join the Russian Federation or have greater autonomy within Ukraine. No options were proposed to those who wanted the current semi-autonomous region of Ukraine status quo to remain unchanged.
In spite of numerous international warnings and fervent opposition to the holding of Sunday's referendum, considered by many to be contrary to the Ukrainian Constitution and international law, the newly elected pro-Russian local government of Crimea decided to carry it through.
According to the chairman of the regional election commission, Mikhail Malyshev, the referendum had an overall turnout of 70%, with 96.7% of the participants voting for the secession from Ukraine. However, these numbers are not without contestation: Representatives of Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People visited many polling stations in Crimea and report a total average turnout of about 30%.
In this context, the Crimean Tatars, an indigenous people counting for 12% of the total population of Crimea (as opposed to 58% ethnic Russians) find themselves in a very difficult position. Although most of the Crimean Tatars had decided to boycott the referendum, as they considered it neither legitimate nor in accordance with international standards, the ones who did desire to vote were refused to take part in the poll. Moreover, some local media outlets reported on voter fraud.
In addition to this, sources in Crimea report of numerous human rights violations against the Crimean Tatars, including attempts of stigmatization. Marking of their doors, passport controls in the streets and other acts of intimidation have raised deeper fears among the Crimean Tatars, who are afraid of falling victim to similar politics of persecution as the ones under Stalin’s rule. In May 2014, the community was supposed to commemorate the 70th anniversary of their deportation from Crimea.
Fearing an escalation of the crisis and a rise in street violence between pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian factions, the Russian state television has warned the present forces in Crimea to stay on high alert and prevent any provocations that would challenge the outcome of the vote. Prior to a definite annexation to Russia, Crimea’s Regional Assembly first declared on Monday 17 March 2014 the peninsula’s independence from Ukraine, calling upon the international community to recognize the new Republic of Crimea as an independent state. The Russian ruble was also introduced as the second currency of the new state, along with the Ukrainian hyyvnia. The next measure planned is the adoption of Moscow Time Zone (UTC+04:00) in Crimea.
In the meantime, the United States, backed by the European Union, has maintained its opposition to the referendum and refuses to recognize its outcome. European leaders are currently discussing the possibility of economic sanctions towards Russia. In spite of a previous joint statement by President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, and President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, in favor of a ‘diplomatic process, including direct discussions between the Governments of Ukraine and Russia, the EU has decided this Monday 17 March 2014 to impose travel bans and asset freezes against 21 officials from Russia and Ukraine. This marks a timid but welcome turning point in the crisis.
APPEAL of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, whole Ukrainian people - citizens of Ukraine of all nationalities
Below is an appeal on behalf of the Meijlis of the Crimean Tatar People:
The Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, the supreme executive representative body of the Crimean Tatar people,
- under the conditions that represent a real threat to the security and freedom of the Crimean Tatars and all Crimean population irrespective of their nationality,
- realizing the scale of the inevitable consequences caused by the direct military intrusion and plans of the annexation of Crimea by a foreign state,
- realizing the exclusive liability before the present and future generations of the Crimean Tatar people,
- keeping in mind all losses, humiliations, deprivations and repressions that the Crimean Tatar people suffered since the annexation of Crimea in 1783 and deprivation of their centuries-long statehood,
- in order to prevent the repetition of the genocide of May 18, 1944 when the whole Crimean Tatar people was subjected to the forcible deportation from its historical Homeland,
- supporting the traditional methods of non-violent fighting for their rights,
- based upon the generally accepted norms of the international documents, guaranteeing the right to self-determination – UN Charter, Resolution # 1514 (XV) of the UN General Assembly of December 14, 1960, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of December 16, 1966, the Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States in accordance with the UN Charter, adopted on October 24, 1970 and etc.,
- based upon the UN Declaration “On the Rights of Indigenous Peoples” of September 13, 2007, that in particular provides:
a) the right of indigenous peoples to self-determination (Article 3),
b) the right of indigenous peoples to autonomy and self-governance (Article 4),
c) the right of indigenous peoples to participate fully, if they so choose, in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the State (Article 5),
d) that military activities shall not take place in the lands or territories of indigenous peoples unless freely agreed with or requested by the indigenous peoples concerned (Article 30),
e) the right of indigenous peoples to access to and prompt decision through just and fair procedures for the resolution of conflicts and disputes with States or other parties (Article 40),
f) that nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as authorizing or encouraging any action which would dismember or impair the territorial integrity or political unity of sovereign and independent States (Article 46),
- based upon the Declaration on National Sovereignty of the Crimean Tatar People, adopted on the 2nd Qurultay of the Crimean Tatar People of June 28, 1991,
- considering that Ukrainian state did not use all its possibilities to restore the rights of the Crimean Tatar people and to determine the status of the Crimean Tatars as an indigenous people in Crimea that resulted in the discriminations against the Crimean Tatars from the official authorities,
appeal to the whole Ukrainian people and their representatives in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine with the following:
1) confirm that we recognize Ukraine as a sovereign and independent state in the existing borders;
2) condemn vigorously an act of aggression committed by the Russian Federation and its plans to annex Crimea, considering these actions as a gross violation of the international law that destabilizes the existing system of the intergovernmental relations;
3) do not recognize the Crimean referendum to be held on March 16, 2014, aimed at changing the territorial belonging of Crimea, as it is not legitimate and does not correspond to the International law and the Constitution of Ukraine;
4) deny categorically any attempts to define the future of Crimea without the free expression of the will of the Crimean Tatar people – the indigenous people of Crimea.
5) Crimean Tatar s have an executive right to choose the state of the residence of the Crimean Tatar people;
6) believe that the restoration of the rights of the Crimean Tatar people and their right to self-determination in their historical Homeland must be exercised in the borders of the sovereign and independent Ukrainian state;
7) believe that any authority in Crimea must be formed and perform its activity exclusively on condition of free expression of Crimean Tatar people’s free will and agreement;
8) appeal to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to ratify the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;
9) urge to recognize and adopt the laws and other legal acts of Ukraine determining the status of the Crimean Tatar people as an indigenous people of Crimea;
10) urge the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and other supreme bodies of Ukraine along with the international organizations (UN, OSCE, Council of Europe, European Union) to ensure urgently that the Crimean Tatar people expressed their free to exercise their inherent right to self-determination in their historical territory – Crimea in order to realize the natural right of the Crimean Tatar people provided in the international acts with regards to the rights of indigenous peoples.
Chairman, Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People
March 15, 2014, Simferopol
To consult the appeal, click here.
Crimean Tatar Representative Speaks At Paneuropean Working Group
Abduraman Egiz on behalf of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People was invited to speak at the Paneuropean Working Group in Strasburg on 11 March.
Below is his statement:
Strasbourg, 11 March 2014
Dear Members of the European Parliament!
I am here to present you the current developments in Crimea and the fear of the Crimean Tatar people.
A disaster has struck Crimea, the homeland of the Crimean Tatar people, threatening to escalate into a global humanitarian and social catastrophe for its almost two million population – Crimean Tatars, Ukrainians and Russians.
For over two weeks, there has been a large-scale movement of Russian troops in the streets and on the roads of Crimea backing a group of irresponsible Crimean separatist politicians who have committed a coup.
More and more military forces are being brought from Russian to Crimea daily. The number of Russian troops in Crimea has exceeded 30 thousand soldiers. They have blocked all military bases of Ukraine, airports, and every entrance and exit from Crimea.
The multicultural population of Crimea is particularly anxious about the numerous groups of “Cossacks” – members of paramilitary organizations who have been brought en masse to Crimea from Krasnodar region and other territories of the Russian Federation in order to destabilize the situation, as well as about arming of so called “self-defense squads” led by the putschists.
Military observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe have been unable to reach Crimea for over three days. Armed people are stopping them at the entrance to Crimea.
Mr Robert Serry, Senior Advisor to the United Nations Secretary-General was threatened and forced to leave Crimea. Dear Participants of this Meeting, today the whole civilized world is expecting a turmoil that further escalation of the situation in Crimea could cause.
Russians, Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars - the multiethnic population of Crimea – look to the future with apprehension and fear for the lives of their children, relatives and friends. Something irreversible can happen at any moment.
In the 20th century, Crimea suffered a humanitarian disaster and its consequences have not been eliminated till today. 70 years ago, on May 18th, 1944, the Communist regime of the Soviet Union subjected the whole Crimean Tatar people – an indigenous people of Crimea - to deportation en masse.
Then in one day we were deprived of everything – our homeland, homes and property. Within the first years of the exile, 46% of our people died of repressions, hunger, diseases and hardships in exile in the remote regions of the Central Asia, Ural and Siberia.
Only 45 years later we could return to our homeland – Crimea. The return of the Crimean Tatar people coincided with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the foundation of the independent Ukraine where we are living today.
Crimean Tatars have been facing great difficulties while resettling in their homeland, living in peace and consent with their neighbors – Russians, Ukrainians and other ethnic communities of Crimea.
Distinguished Members of the Parliament, in view of the recent events and possible gravest consequences due to the invasion of Crimea by numerous Russian troops, Crimean Tatars, as well as their neighbors – Russians and Ukrainians -put their hope in the international community and the leading world states and Organizatios, especially the European Unian.
With respect to you and the European Commission, allow me to convey the questions of thousands of Crimean residents – Crimean Tatars, Russians and Ukrainians - to you and other world leaders:
- Who and when will stop the escalation of the situation in Crimea and avert a threat to the population of Crimea?
- Who and when will avert a threat of new ethnic cleansings that could occur in Crimea in case of violent conflicts, provoked by military and their accomplices from the paramilitary organizations?
Dear Members of Parliament, I believe that the world can find the answers to these and many other questions only together with the Governments of the European Union, United States, Ukraine and Russia.
We ask you to take decisive measures for the sake of the peace and justice, and protecting lives of hundreds of thousands of people living in Crimea. Thank you for your attention!
Decision To Hold Crimean Referendum Illegal And Provocative
Below is a statement on behalf of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People:
Statement of Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People as Regard to Announcement of “Crimean Referendum” by Verkhovna Rada of Autonomous Republic of Crimea
Simferopol, 6 March 2014
In conditions of the severest political crisis caused by bringing Russian troops into Crimea the Verkhovna Rada of Crimea called the urgent special session without informing the deputies of the opposition about the place and time of the session to adopt the decision “On holding Crimean referendum.”
The Crimean referendum will be held on March 16, 2014.
The analysis of this decision testifies not only to its legal nihility, but also to the crying disregard of the rights and interests of Crimean residents. Thus, item 1 in fact proclaims “inclusion of Crimea to the Russian Federation as a subordinate entity of the Russian Federation,” however, at this the next item announces that the referendum will be held on March 16, 2014.
Making these irresponsible actions part of the deputies of the Verkhovna Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea not only violated the law of Ukraine, but demonstrated their cynical attitude to the multinational population of Crimea.
The Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People considers the adoption of this decision by the Verkhovna Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea not only as criminal and contradicting the interests of the overwhelming majority of the multinational population of Crimea, but also as deliberately provocative action, aimed at a further escalation of the tension in Crimea and around it.
The Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People states that along with the gross disregard to the rights and interests of multinational Crimean population, that is called to take part in the illegal referendum that has its result announced in advance, the rights of the Crimean Tatar people that has no other historical homeland outside Crimea, were especially violated.
The Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People calls all residents of the autonomy to boycott every stage of preparation to the referendum:
- do not enter the district and territorial election committees;
- do not take part in making a list of voters, do not agree to enter the list of voters;
- demand one’s exclusion from such lists in case of inclusion into the lists of voters;
- do not come to the polling stations on voting day, do not invite the members of the election committees to vote at home.
At the same time the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People calls the Crimean residents belonging to various nationalities to stay calm and avoid any attempts to provocations.
Peace and consent in our multinational Crimean society is our most efficient influence to those who brought chaos and fear for the future of our children, relatives and friends to our home.
Peaceful future of Crimea is in our hands!
Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People Refat Chubarov
"No Other Homeland Than Crimea": Crimean Tatars Fear Repetition Of Historic Injustice
Below is a statement on behalf of UNPO from 6 March 2014:
Crimea currently finds itself at the centre of a dangerous crisis, which revolves around the unity and integrity of Ukraine. Since the fall of Yanukovych's regime, destructive elements have taken advantage of the fragile situation in Crimea and the overwhelming challenges facing the interim Government. Russian forces have breached international and bilateral commitments by invading and taking control of key Crimean political buildings and airports, and symbolically raising Russian flags. Non-Russian cultural groups present in the region, notably the Crimean Tatars, have become victims of Russia’s unexpected and unwarranted invasion.
Crimean Tatars, who, according to the latest Ukrainian census in 2001, represent approximately 12% of the population, have consistently supported the integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, and displayed loyalty to the new authorities in Kiev. At the same time they have showed opposition to Crimea’s Russian ethnic majority’s pro-Russian separatist demands for the Peninsula. On Friday 28 February 2014, the Crimean Parliament voted for a new local government in the presence of armed pro-Russian men. With only Russian media allowed to attend the voting, Sergey Aksenov, a representative of the Russia Unity party, was elected new prime minister of Crimea.
Since the escalation of the crisis, Russia has repeatedly demonstrated the Kremlin’s intention of consolidating its control over the strategic Black Sea peninsula. While Russian forces remain in effective control of Crimea, the parliament of Ukraine’s Autonomous Republic of Crimea has proposed a local all-Crimean referendum to determine the region’s future and status of autonomy, to be held on 30 March 2014. Although Crimean Tatars have decided to boycott the referendum, it is apparent that they will be required to vote and to recognize the new statehood status of the territory. The leader of Crimean Tatars, Mustafa Dzhemilev, has urged his community to keep a low profile and remain off the streets to avoid growing threats of escalating violence. Since Tuesday 4 March 2014, Crimean Tatar families have decided to flee their home for West Ukraine or Turkey instead of recognising Russian annexation of their territory, particularly as rumours of attacks against Tatars spread fear.
The international community has fervently condemned the seizure of Crimea by Russian troops and labelled it as an act of aggression and a violation of international law. At the moment, the United States is focused on finding a potential resolution to the crisis and preventing any possible confrontations, and is moving forward with plans for sanctions, if there is no ‘de-escalation’ in Russia’s actions. Some European leaders have been wary to the possibility of imposing sanctions as the EU has developed strong economic ties with Russia and a dependence on Russian natural gas. Tensions are running high, especially since Russian lawmakers are currently drafting a law that will give Russia the power to appropriate foreign assets, in case of sanctions.
While diplomatic efforts to ease tensions are the ‘go-to’ strategy, political figures like UK Foreign Secretary, William Hague, have noted that there will be consequences, if Russia does not willingly sit down with Ukraine for talks. French President, Francois Hollande, has argued that the role of Europe is to exert all necessary pressure on Russia, including sanctions. On 3 March 2014, Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy for the European Union, urged the Russian Government to withdraw its troops from Crimea in accordance with international law, expressed support for the territorial integrity, unity and independence of Ukraine, and has also encouraged the new Ukrainian Government to ensure “adequate level of protection of national minorities”. Regrettably the precarious situation of the Crimean Tatars has received only marginal international attention. Specific references to the endangered fate and security of Crimean Tatars have been scant, despite the fact that Crimean Tatars “have no other homeland than Crimea,” according to Abduraman Egiz, a deputy with the Mejlis, the representative body for the Crimean Tatars. In May 2014, the 70th commemoration of the deportation of the Crimean Tatar people by Stalin was supposed to take place in Crimea.
UNPO Calls For Stabilization of Crimea Amidst Unrest In Ukraine
Below is a statement on behalf of UNPO from 27 February 2014:
The United Nations and European Union Must Urge the Ukrainian Government to Appease the Situation in Crimea, Protect its Minorities and Withstand Russian Intimidation
The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) urges the European Union and the United Nations to intervene in the peninsula of Crimea, Ukraine, in order to protect civilians and especially the vulnerable Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian minorities in the region, amidst escalating tensions that are taking place in the wake of the ousting of former President Yanykovych.
On Thursday morning, up to 50 heavily armed men from Sevastopol, the main port of Crimea where a Russian fleet is located, had occupied the building of the Crimean government in Simferopol. It is unclear what the military affiliation of the men is. Later during the day, the Russian flag was raised above the Crimean Parliament. The day before, several protests from both pro-Russians and pro-Ukrainians had taken place and made tensions in the region rise. Russia’s military movements are being followed closely, according to acting president Oleksander Turchinov, and security forces have been put on alert, although it remains difficult for Kiev to reach out to the region in the aftermath of the revolution.
Refat Chubarov, Chairman of Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, urged the residents of Crimea to remain calm and to avoid getting out in the streets. "The buildings of the Crimean Verkhovna Rada and the Government have been captured by unidentified armed men in unmarked uniforms. They appear to be highly trained and armed with modern weapons. I urge the residents of Crimea to remain calm, and not to try to take any initiative in response to the situation. The release of the captured buildings lies at the competence of the designated law enforcement agencies”.
The Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People supports the integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. Being the Indigenous People of the peninsula, their communities, as well as other vulnerable minority groups such as the Ukrainians, find themselves in an extremely precarious situation. Crimea has a unique, autonomous status in Ukraine and is inhabited by a majority of ethnic Russians, in addition to 24% Ukrainians and 12% Crimean Tatars.
In order to counter the escalating violence in Crimea, UNPO calls upon the United Nations and the European Union to intervene in Crimea to protect civilians and vulnerable communities. UNPO furthermore calls upon Ukraine and the international community not to give in to Russian intimidation, and to seek peaceful means as a way out of this threatening crisis, that could potentially affect the wider region.
For the PDF version of the appeal, click here
Below is a statement on behalf of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People:
MEJLIS OF THE CRIMEAN TATAR PEOPLE
DEPARTMENT FOR FOREIGN COOPERATION
February 27, 2014
Crimea is in danger, and so is the territorial integrity and unity of Ukraine. Since Yanukovych' regime came to an end, destructive elements took advantage of the situation in Crimea. The Board of the Crimean Parliament is making all efforts to make the tense situation even worse. Activities and statements of the Crimean Parliament systematically provoke separatist sentiments, which result in the strengthening of the position of pro-Russian elements that propagate the annexation of Crimea to Russia.
Considering that all attempts that aim at amending the status of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea threaten inter-ethnic peace and dialogue, the safety of the Crimean population, as well as the integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People expresses its deepest concern on the situation in the Crimean Peninsula.
The Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People therefore calls for the support of the international community, the UN, OSCE and the European Union, based on their international obligations and agreements, to guarantee the territorial integrity of Ukraine. The Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People warns that, unless no effort and willingness is shown by the international community and the situation is not stabilized, there is the imminent threat of escalating violence. The status of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea should not be amended in order to stabilize the situation.
Timeline: Escalation Of The Crisis In Crimea
7 May 2014: Mustafa Jemilev rebukes the “coming back of USSR’s worst days” and fears the onset of a bloody conflict between Russians and his community.
6 May 2014: A depute of the Mejlis, Abduraman Egiz, was physically assaulted by a self-defense group in Crimea after refusing to show his ID papers. He was let go when they realized he was member of the Mejlis.
4 May 2014: Following the protests of Saturday 3 May, Crimean Chief Prosecutor threatened to “liquidate the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People” in a statement addressed to the Chairman of the Mejlis, Refat Chubarov, accusing him as well as the self-governing body to perpetrate extremist activities and to stimulate interethnic tensions.
3 May 2014: Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Jemilev found himself denied the access to Crimea after attempting one more time to cross the border through a mainland checkpoint between Crimea and Ukraine. Thousands of Crimean Tatars were gathered to bring their support to their historical leader.
26 April 2014: Tatar organizations in the Middle East Volga have nominated Mustafa Jemilev for the Nobel Prize with regards of his long and arduous struggle to defend Crimean Tatars’ rights against Russian aggressions.
22 April 2014: Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Jemilev, has been barred from entering Crimea for the next five years [until 2019], while attempting to come back to Crimea after completing advocacy meetings within Europe and the US. This came after a three-day detention at the border checkpoint during which he was refused to enter Crimea.
21 April 2014: Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Monday 21st April the signature of a decree rehabilitating the Crimean Tatar people as well as Armenian, German, Greek and other minorities which suffered from Stalin’s repression.
Unidentified men in camouflage broke into the Mejlis administrative building and illegally took down a Ukrainian flag.
18 April 2014: All residents of Crimea, - including Crimean Tatars -, were issued Russian ID papers, except for those who submitted an official statement expressing their wish to remain Ukrainians. However, by deciding to keep their Ukrainian nationality, Crimean Tatars for instance will automatically lose their job in official governmental offices, and become foreigners on their own lands.
17 April 2014: In view of de-escalating the ongoing Ukrainian crisis with the upraising of pro-separatism in eastern Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Serguei Lavrov, American Secretary of State John Kerry, High Representative Catherine Ashton and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andrei Dechtchitsa gathered in Geneva on Thursday 17th and wrote a declaration calling for the immediate cessation of violence with the disarmament of illegal armed group and the evacuation of occupied buildings.
11 April 2014: The Crimean Parliament adopted a new constitution making Crimea a democratic state within the Russian Federation, a unitary and indivisible republic in which Tatar language becomes one the three official languages of the region. However, other claims from the Mejlis such as being recognized as the legitimate representative body of Crimean Tatar people, or the establishment of specific quotas for Tatars in governmental bodies were not included in the constitution. Nothing is mentioned regarding national or cultural autonomies within the republic.
9 April 2014: Crimea’s self-defense forces have been created by pro-Russian residents of Crimea in order to maintain security and oppose any pro-Ukraine actions that would destabilize the newly Russian Crimea. They divided themselves in groups, patrolling the streets, borders, public spaces of Crimea and governmental buildings. Although they are mostly unarmed, cases of torture, kidnapping and murders have been reported by international organizations such as Human Rights Watch.
8 April 2014: Pro-Russians in the Ukrainian region of Donetsk have declared the independent republic from Ukraine, also called the ‘Donetsk Republic’, and demanded the holding of a referendum no later than May 11th. They took over the main regional administration buildings of the city of Kharkiv; an initiative that was immediately countered by an anti-terrorist operation launched by Ukrainian forces. 70 people were arrested for their illegal actions. While Russia recommended the Ukrainian government to stop this operation, NATO chief Anders Fogh warned Russia against intervening further in Ukraine.
7 April 2014: A 14 year-old boy residing in Simferopol was beaten up on March 31st while he was speaking his native language, - Crimean Tatar language -, on the phone. The boy had surgery and was discharged on April 7th.
29 March 2014: Tatar representatives gathered within the Qurultay, popular representative organism, for an extraordinary session and voted in favor of a resolution that both rejects the annexation of Crimea to Russia, and claims for the ethnical and territorial autonomy of their people. This resolution will be confirmed by a national referendum which will determine whether Crimean Tatars want their autonomy from Russia.
27 March 2014: UN passed a resolution that invalidated the Crimean referendum’s outcome, thus not recognizing Russian’s annexation of the territory and supporting Crimea’s territorial integrity. 100 countries voted in favour of the resolution while 11 others, - included Russia, Cuba, Venezuela, Armenia -, have voted against.
26 March 2014: The Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People have claimed to be considering doing their own referendum against Russian annexation.
21 March 2014: All 155 members from the Russian Parliament’s upper house ratified the treaty. The treaty creates two new regions in Russia, Crimea and the port city of Sevastopol.
20 March 2014: EU leaders addressed Russia new warnings as the treaty legalizing the annexation of Crimea has been approved by Russia’s lower house of Parliament, the Duma. The full ratification by the upper house is expected to happen on Friday 21st. In response, the number of figures targeted by travel bans and freeze assets was raised to 33 for the EU and 31 for the US.
19 March 2014: Crimean Tatars were asked to vacate part of their lands for “social needs” according to Crimean Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Temirgaliyev.
18 March 2014: Hours following the Western declaration of sanctions, Vladimir Putin signed a decree recognizing Crimea as a ‘sovereign and independent country’. This decree appears as a first step toward the integration of Crimea into the Russian Federation as Crimean leaders and Moscow later signed a treaty to absorb the peninsula into Russia.
17 March 2014: The EU, USA and Canada voted for concrete sanctions against Russia. The EU agreed on imposing travel bans and asset freezes against 21 officials from Russia and Ukraine; while the US did so for 11 figures.
16 March 2014: Holding of the local referendum determining the status of Crimea as being part of the Russian Federation. 96.6% of the Crimean population voted for seceding from Ukraine and joining Russia.
12 March 2014: G7 warned Russia that if it ‘annexed’ Crimea, they would take further action both at the country and the group scales. The group also affirmed it would not recognize the outcome of the referendum if Crimea was split from Ukraine and joined Russia.
11 March 2014: Kiev announced on March 11th it would not use its army to stop Crimea from seceding. In the meantime, self-exiled president Yanukovych declared he was still in charge of the presidency of Ukraine.
10 March 2014: Russian troops seized a military hospital and base in Crimea; while being backed up by pro-Russian militias. NATO decided to start AWACS reconnaissance flights over Poland and Romania to monitor the crisis in Ukraine.
8 March 2014: OSCE unarmed military observers were prevented for the third time from entering Crimea to operate an observation mission. This time, they had to turn back as warning shots were fired from the Ukrainian border in Armyansk.
7 March 2014: US President Obama announced sanctions against Russia if Russian President Vladimir Putin supported the local referendum, while Russia continued maintaining the legitimacy of its military intervention in the peninsula. In Crimea, Russian soldiers had disarmed servicemen and Ukrainian soldiers at a Ukrainian Army missile base after threatening them to charge.
6 March 2014: 78 out of 81 present deputies of the Crimean Parliament voted to join the Federation of Russia and announced the holding of a local referendum on March 16 to sanction the parliament vote and decide on the future of Crimea. Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk declared Crimea would remain part of Ukraine and denounced the illegitimacy of such a move. Street violence flared in Sevastopol as supporters of the new government in Kiev were attacked by pro-Russian activists and Cossack militiamen.
5 March 2014: The European Union declared to be ready to provide Ukraine with a €15-billion aid package.
3 March 2014: The extraordinary Foreign Affairs Council on Ukraine condemned the “clear violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by an act of aggression of the Russian armed forces and the authorization of the use of the Russian armed forces on the territory of Ukraine”. Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy for the European Union, urged the Russian Government to withdraw its troops from Crimea in accordance with international law.
2 March 2014: Russian President Vladimir Putin received permission from is parliament to use military force to protect Russian citizens in Ukraine.
28 February 2014: Local Crimean Parliament voted for the new Crimean government and elected its Prime Minister, Sergey Aksenov, a representative of the Russia Unity party, under the presence of armed men.
27 February 2014: dozens of armed men in military uniforms seized an airport in Ukraine’s strategic Crimea region after occupying the local parliament and government buildings since 26 February.
25 February 2014: tensions rose in the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea with pro-Russian protesters rallying against “the bandits” in Kiev who are trying to form a new government. This resulted in the breakout of violent clashes between pro- and anti-Russian demonstrators in Crimea.
24 February 2014: President Yanukovych fled Kiev to the Back Sea peninsula of Crimea after being accused of “mass killing” by the new acting government assigned the 23rd of February by the newly emboldened parliament.
22 February 2014: Protesters took control of the presidential administration building.
19 February 2014: Death toll rose to 25 people killed and 241 injured in the frame of violent riots between the 18th and the 19th February in Independence Square.
17 February 2014: Tensions rose again after Russia’s Finance minister offered to resume financial aid to Ukraine while Yanukovych was expected to nominate a new prime minister; prompting fears among the opposition he would elect a pro-Russian candidate.
16 February 2014: Anti-government demonstrators in Kiev ended their nearly three-month occupation of the city hall in the exchange for the release of all jailed protesters.
28 January 2014: Prime Minister Mykola Azarov resigned and the Ukrainian Parliament repealed anti-protest laws.
17 January 2014: The Ukrainian government changed the Ukrainian judicial code with the passing of anti-protest laws and took the decision to turn toward Russia for a bailout loan instead of signing a deal with the European Union. This resulted in the recrudescence of more violent anti-government demonstrations in Kiev.
21 November 2013: Ukrainian President Yanukovych backed away from a trade agreement with the EU which resulted in the rise of large protests in Kiev.