Commemoration event gathers about 40.000 Crimean Tatars

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The Crimean Tatars have gathered together for mourning meeting devoted to the Commemoration Day of the 1944 Deportation’s victims
18/05/2009
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Today, on May 18, the mourning meeting devoted to the Commemoration Day of the 1944 Deportation’s victims has assembled about 40.000 people.

The Crimean Tatars have gathered together from all regions of Crimea as well as Turkey, Romania, Germany, the USA and Russia.

The Chairman of the Majlis of Crimean Tatar people MP Mustafa Cemil has made impressive speech before his compatriots and invited officials.

QHA cites the speech of Mustafa Cemil:

Speech of the Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people,
Mustafa Dzhemilev, on the meeting on May 18, 2009 in Ak-Mesdzhit (Simferopol)

Dear compatriots and citizens!

Welcome dear guests and representatives of the Crimean Tatar Diasporas who arrived from various countries to commemorate this mournful date – the day of the Deportation of our nation.

Very few of our fellow countrymen who personally experienced the deportation and the tragedy of May 18, 1944 are still alive and remember the details of the event. Many of them perished and were buried in a foreign land. Those who did survive those terrible conditions were small children back then and now are, just like me, over 65 years old. But for many years to come, the 18th of May will remain for us the most memorable date, because this was the day when the Kremlin started to enforce the death penalty against our people. It is our ethical and religious duty to gather on this day and pray for the victims of the genocide committed against our people, for the memory of our fellow countrymen, who despite the conditions of poverty and lawlessness in exile, continued their resistance against the regime to return to their homeland, and who, with yearning for their homeland, left us to another world.

Together with commemoration, on the 18th of May every year we also review the achievements of past years in dealing with the consequences of the deportation, we make resolutions that reflect our most pressing problems and call on state structures and international organizations to contribute to solving these problems. Today you will hear a new resolution, prepared and reviewed by the Mejlis, which will be passed if you approve it by raising your hands.

Naturally, we have a significant number of weighty demands and questions directed to the authorities in Ukraine, especially to the authorities in the [Crimean] Autonomous Republic.
We demand that laws should be passed that will restore the legal and social rights of the Crimean Tatars in their native land. We want a network of educational institutions instructing in the Crimean Tatar language to be rebuilt. We request that the historical names of the cities and villages in Crimea be rest

ored. We want justice in solving land disputes, adequate representation of Crimean Tatars in all state agencies; we demand that the Crimean Tatar language gain an official language status in Crimea, that the return of our compatriots who still remain in the places of deportation be facilitated, and a solution to many other issues.

But we should not think that passing various resolutions and appeals will solve all our problems. As the great Ataturk has said, national problems are not solved by setting up camp on the loftiest doorsteps and asking for mercy and justice. The resolution of many of our problems depends first and foremost on us, on how consolidated, smart and disciplined our actions will be.

There is a principal difference between this period of our struggle and the Soviet period. Today, all things are no longer decided by the highest authorities. In Soviet times everything depended on the opinion of the Kremlin. Not surprisingly, all our actions were directed towards making our opinions, rights and demands count in the Kremlin’s decisions. What we received in response were usually only harsh repressions against the activists of the national movement. Today there are no repressions for speaking our mind, or raising our legitimate demands.

Today it seems there is no need to be extremely brave or heroic to protest the government or the authorities, because protesting is free. But the opposite is true in Crimea, where the spirit of pro-Russian separatism dominates – one needs a lot of courage to defend state interests. But the reality is that only those who carry considerable political weight can hope to push their demands through, not those who simply represent a just position. In order to become a real political force and to protect its rights effectively, the Crimean Tatar nation, which today is a minority in its own land, needs to be more cohesive and politically active than any other ethnic group living in Crimea.

18 years ago, on the evening of the collapse of the USSR, after a 73-year long break, we held our first democratic elections and convened our national congress – the Kurultay. We elected an overarching representative body – the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, as well as local and regional Mejlises in the cities and villages where our fellow countrymen lived. We created a comprehensive system of national self-governance. Thus, we created a relatively transparent and democratic system to defend the rights of our nation most effectively. But did we do enough to make those self-governing institutions strong and influential political structures? Aren’t there a few too many narrow-minded and excessively ambitious “patriots”, whose “patriotic” activity is first and foremost directed against our own self-governance – to the utmost happiness of our adversaries? Don’t we have a few too many sects, who, again to the pleasure of our opponents, try to divide the Crimean Tatars into “right” and “wrong” Muslims, discredit our nation and our religion with their behavior in front of other people of different nationalities and religions?

Unfortunately, similar trends are visible in our Diaspora. In recent years there have been many people concerned primarily with intrigues, and not with trying to help their historical homeland. They find likeminded people in Crimea, support them, and in this way contribute to divisions among our people, and to the weakening of our National movement.

Fortunately, there are not too many people and groups who operate this way. And even if all of them were to unite – and they will never unite, because they think only self-righteously of themselves - they would not be able to compete with our system of self-governing bodies, and they will not do anything useful for their compatriots. As for their destructive activities – well, that does not require too much brainpower.

This year, in the coming 3-4 months we will reelect the local and regional Mejlises. Regardless of how difficult it will be financially, this time the elections will not be run in two-stages, but rather in a direct one-stage election. This will stop the rumors that local Mejlises are appointed from above, and thus the elections will have more authority among our people. I would ask all of our people to take an active part in those elections, and to elect those who would be the worthiest as your representatives. The goal should be not to search constantly for failures in the members of Mejlises elected by you, but to lend them every possible bit of support and assistance.

In addition, many of our problems can and should be resolved by us ourselves, without waiting for state decisions or laws.

One of the biggest problems that we face is the danger of losing our national identity and our native language. Today the Crimean language is listed by UNESCO as one of the languages in danger of extinction. We talk a lot about the need to restore our national and territorial autonomy. But please tell me, who needs this autonomy, if we are to lose all our national and cultural traits, our language and culture, as we assimilate to the Russian-speaking majority.

It is imperative for us to restore an education system in our native language, to open many kindergartens and schools where education is conducted in the Crimean Tatar language. What prevents us from making some effort to spend at least some time every day learning the language, reading at least a couple of pages in Crimean Tatar language journals and books, teaching Tatar to our kids? Isn’t it shameful, when people at home with their own relatives and children speak not in their native language, not even in a state language, but in the language of a foreign country?

One of the important measures we must take to reverse the consequences of the deportation, to restore the rights and dignity of the Crimean Tatar people, and to establish an interethnic peace in Crimea is to restore the historical names of the cities and villages in Crimea. Those names were desecrated by the Soviet regime, which used renaming as a measure of ethnic cleansing in Crimea. Unfortunately, the majority of the Ukrainian Parliament is indifferent to these problems – similar to how indifferent many of them are to the problems related to protecting the national dignity of the Ukrainians themselves. It was evident to see how outraged a part of the Parliament was when the President attempted to restore the good names of the true patriots of Ukraine, who struggled for the independence of this country, for accepting Holodomor (the Famine) as genocide against the Ukrainian people. This Parliament is still not ready to help us. But what prevents us from resolving this question with our own means? I call upon all our compatriots to gather some resources, to place plaques in every city entryway and exit with the historical name of the places. What about the chauvinists, who may want to tear those names down? They should think about whether signs in the Russian language will remain intact.

Tomorrow we will open the first worldwide Congress of the Crimean Tatar people. We hope that this will become a new step towards the consolidation of our people and towards resolving our problems.

Dear compatriots! I want once again underline that our future is in our own hands. For the future of our children, for restoring our rights in our native land, for preventing future possible bloodshed on our land, for the fastest reversal of the consequences of the crime committed against our people, our actions must be very well thought-out, organized, and proactive.

As the great Islamic philosopher Mohiddin Al-Arabi said more than 800 years ago, “Allah helps those people who are united. People who do not have internal strife and discord cannot be conquered.”

(Translated from the Crimean Tatar language by QHA )

By QHA

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