May 26, 2017

Remembering the genocide of the Crimean Tatar people


The Ukrainian World Congress issued the following statement on May 18.

May 18, 2017, marks the 73rd anniversary of the deportation of Crimean Tatars from Crimea in 1944 on the order of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.

On this day, declared in 2015 as the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the Genocide of the Crimean Tatar people by the Parliament of Ukraine, hundreds of thousands of Crimean Tatars were deported from the Crimean peninsula of Ukraine to various regions of the Soviet Union, with close to half perishing either during the journey or within a year of being exiled.

The Crimean Tatars returned to the peninsula in 1987, and in March 2014 once again faced persecution, and the curtailment of human rights and fundamental freedoms with the illegal occupation of the peninsula by the Russian Federation. The representative assembly, Crimean Tatar Mejlis, remains banned by the occupying Russian authorities, having been branded as an extremist organization.

“The Ukrainian World Congress and Ukrainians around the world stand united with the Crimean Tatar people in remembrance of the victims of this genocide, and urges the international community to firmly maintain that Crimea is Ukraine,” stated UWC President Eugene Czolij.

The following release from the Ukrainian Canadian Congress was issued on May 18.

Today the Ukrainian Canadian community stands in solidarity with the Crimean Tatar people who mark the anniversary of the mass deportation from their ancestral homeland by the totalitarian regime of Joseph Stalin.

The entire Crimean Tatar people, the indigenous people of Crimea, were exiled to the Soviet east in 1944. Hundreds of thousands of men, women and children were forcibly and violently deported – almost half lost their lives during the first year of exile – for no crime other than their language, culture and traditions. They were not allowed to return to Crimea for almost 50 years.

In November 2015, Ukraine’s Parliament recognized this crime as an act of genocide against the Crimean Tatar people and established May 18 as the Day of Remembrance of the Genocide of the Crimean Tatar people. Today, we join the Crimean Tatar people in mourning, grief and solemn commemoration.

The ancestral home of the Crimean Tatar people, the Crimean peninsula of Ukraine, is today illegally occupied by the Russian Federation. The Mejlis, the Representative Assembly of the Crimean Tatar people, has been banned by the Russian occupation authorities.

The Crimean Tatar people, bravely resisting this cruel occupation, are once again subject to brutal violence, repressions, arrests and attacks on their unalienable rights and freedoms by the Russian occupation authorities. We join all civilized nations in condemning the Russian Federation’s occupation of the Crimean peninsula of Ukraine.

The statement below was released by Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on May 17.

On May 18 Ukraine marks the 73rd anniversary of the deportation of Crimean Tatars.

Since Ukraine’s independence, the government of Ukraine assumed responsibility for ensuring the rights and freedoms of all Ukrainians, including those returning to Ukraine after deportation. The Declaration of the Rights of Nationalities of Ukraine, Laws “On Minorities in Ukraine,” “On Restoration of Rights of Persons Deported on Ethnic Grounds” are key Ukrainian legal acts on protecting the rights of deported people. The government of Ukraine adopted the following programs on social adaptation of Crimean Tatars: “Program on promotion of social adaptation of Crimean Tatar youth in 2002-2005” (2002), “Program on resettlement of deported Crimean Tatars and other nationalities, who returned to Ukraine for residence, their adaptation and integration into Ukrainian society for the period until 2010” (2006, extended until 2015).

In February-March 2014 Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula led to significant violations of international law and human rights. Crimean Tatars suffered harassment and persecution by Russian occupation authorities and their proxies. As of today, 21 representatives of Crimean Tatars were kidnapped, three of them found dead, more than 130 criminal cases against Crimean Tatars were opened.

Ukrainian authorities take numerous measures to protect the rights and freedoms of Crimean Tatars. Mr. Mustafa Dzhemilev, MP and former head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar nation, was appointed as the president’s representative for Crimean Tatars. On March 30, 2014, the Parliament of Ukraine passed a decree “On Acknowledging Crimean Tatars as Indigenous People of Ukraine,” a special department on the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol was established within the Secretariat of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, and an inter-party Crimea union was established by MPs.

The U.N., OSCE ODIHR, Council of Europe and other international organizations draw attention to numerous cases when Ukrainian locals, especially Crimean Tatars and pro-Ukrainian activists, were kidnapped, tortured, imprisoned by Russian occupation authorities.

The responsibility for all violations of human rights in Crimea rests with the Russian Federation as an occupying authority under international law.