International Committee for Crimea

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ICC Notices (2014-2015)

The following announcements and news, now part of our archives, were posted to ICC's Home Page 2014-2015 (in reverse chronological order):

National Holodomor Memorial

The National Holodomor Memorial in Washington, DC was onveiled on 7 November 2015. The Memorial honors millions of Ukrianians who lost their lives during the 1932-1933 Famine-Genocide resulting from the repressive policies of Soviet government under Stalin. At the height of the man-made famine, 28,000 people were dying daily because the authorities confiscated the grain from the countryside and used it to raise revenues for Soviet industrialization.

Holodomor Memorial in Washington, DC
National Holodomor Memorial in Washington, DC
Crimea and Crimean Tatars were not immune to the devastation in the mainland Ukraine. In fact, Crimea began experiencing starvation before the 1932-1933 Famine, as it was among the first places to feel the devastating effects of collectivization. In an article published in 1931, Famine in Crimea, Cafer Seydahmet Kirimer (1889-1960) described the famine conditions prevailing in a land which always had a surplus of foods.

World Congress of Crimean Tatars meets in Ankara

The Second World Congress of Crimean Tatars convened on August 1-2, 2015, in Ankara, Turkey. Attended by Tatar representatives from 12 countries, invited guests and government officials, the World Congress offered a platform for the Crimean Tatar diaspora to reaffirm its support for their kin struggling in occupied Crimea. While pro-Kremlin Crimean authorities put pressure on Crimean Tatar NGOs and leaders living in Crimea not to attend the Congress, many activists living in Ukraine were able to participate.

Second World Congress of Crimean Tatars
Second World Congress of Crimean Tatars.

The World Congress reelected Refat Chubarov as President and established an executive committee responsible for implementing its charter. It adopted a declaration regarding the indigenous status of Crimean Tatars, stating that "the right to self-determination belongs to the indigenous Crimean Tatar people." Secondly, the Congress also called on the international community to recognize the Russian aggression, beginning with the annexation of Crimea in 1783 and extending through the deportation of Crimean Tatars in 1944, as genocide. During that period, more than a million and a half Crimean Tatars were forced to leave their homeland and half of those deported in 1944 died as a result. Photo Credit: Nese S. Karatay. (Posted: August 2015)

For additional information and photos, see: "Ankara Congress Underscores Why Crimean Tatars are Such an Asset for Ukraine and Such a Problem for Moscow" and "World Congress of Crimean Tatars held in Turkey." (Posted: August 2015)

Recent Additions to the ICC Web site

Three documents were recently published on the ICC Web: First, "Country of Craftspeople: Developing Crimean Tatar Culture in Diaspora," is a report by Greta Uehling about recent initiatives to maintain and develop Crimean Tatar arts and crafts in Ukraine. Secondly, "Space as Part of Crimean Tatar Identity: A Millenial's View," is an interview and comments by Brian Woods, who focuses on the concept of space in forming Crimean Tatar identity by interviewing a young woman who moved to Crimea with her repatriating family in the early 1990s. Her childhood memories and her reaction to the recent Russian occupation of her homeland are covered. Thirdly, Inci Bowman challenges the traditional notion that Crimean Tatars are basically Asian in nature by citing evidence that they carry European genes also. In her essay "Genetically, Who is a Crimean Tatar?" she argues that Crimean Tatars are descendants of the peoples who moved to the peninsula from different directions and lived there for centuries. (Posted: July 2015)

ICC Participates in Wreath-Laying Ceremony

On 12 June 2015, the 8th annual wreath-laying ceremony took place the Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington, DC to honor more than one hundred million people who were victimized by various Communist regimes. The ICC was among the 50 embassies and organizations that participated in the program. On behalf of ICC, Ilbay Ozbay presented a wreath in memory of all those Crimean Tatars who died as a result of repressive measures of the former Soviet Union. Unusual support for Crimean Tatars came from Free Cossacks of Ukraine in Toronto, Canada. A small group of Cossacks drove down from Toronto to participate in the ceremony. (Posted: June 2015)

Cossack Banner displayed Victims of Communism Memorial
Cossack Banner at Victims of Communism Memorial

Crimea and the Crimean Tatars

"Crimea and the Crimean Tatars" is a 4-minute slide program created by Barbara Wieser, a member of the ICC Board of Directors. It aims to familiarize the viewer with the homeland of Crimean Tatars and their recent experiences under Russian occupation. We would like to acknowledge the assistance of Lillia Muslimova in selecting the music and certain images. Crimea and the Crimean Tatars may be viewed on YouTube. (Posted: May 2015)

71st Anniversary of Crimean Tatar Deportation

On the 71st Anniversary of Crimean Tatar Deportation on 18 May 1944, we would like to share with you the logo created for the occasion. The swallow is a symbol of spring, of hope and renewal. For those Crimean Tatars who were once again exiled from their homeland, Crimea is now in red, after more than a year of Russian occupation. Those who remind behind have to endure repression, being subject to illegal searches, loss of property and individual freedoms, and kidnappings, even death. On this somber occasion, we remember all those lives lost during the brutal deportation of Crimean Tatars and decades of exile in distant lands. (Posted: May 2015)

Logo, May 18, 2015

Farewell to Ambassador Olexander Motsyk

His Excellency Olexander Motsyk, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to the US since 2010, recently returned to Kyiv. The ICC greatly appreciates Ambassador Motsyk's interest in Crimean Tatars and his various statements in support of Crimea's indigenous people during his term of service in Washington, DC. Just prior to his departure, he prepared a written statement to be read at the Forum "The Struggle of the Crimean Tatars under Russian Occupation," held at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis on 21 April 2015. It was an event co-sponsored by the ICC, and his remarks, "Statement of Ambassador Olexander Motsyk," is available at this Web site. We extend our best wishes to Ambassador Motsyk and our appreciation for his long service in Washington. (Posted: May 2015)

Crimean News Agency Denied License

The only independent news agency of Crimean Tatars in Crimea is targeted by the occupying Russian forces. Authorities have refused to renew the license of the Agency, also known as Qırım Haber Ajansı or QHA. See: Paul Goble's Russian Occupation Authorities Move to Close Crimean News Agency, Windown on Eurasia, 22 February 2015.

QHA logo
QHA Logo

Crimean Tatar TV Forced to Close

The only Crimean Tatar television station ATR went off the air right after midnight on April 1, 2015. Its anticipated shut down was discussed widely in the Western media, and European Union and US State Department issued statements opposing the move. Russian officials rejected ATR's application for a new licence for four times, saying that the document contained procedural errors. Amnesty International called the official decision to close ATR "blatant attack on freedom of expression, dressed-up as an administrative procedure." Along with the ATR, children's TV Lale and radio station Maydan also had to stop operations. ATR General Director Lilya Budzhurova was adamant: "Those who decided to close TV ATR probably decided not just to hit out at a television channel, but at the entire people [Crimean Tatars]....Their attempt can hardly succeed; we have been through worse than this."
See: "Crimean Tatar TV silenced, searches and arrests continue" by Halya Coynash and Mubeyyin Altan's Appeal "Don't Let Them Kill ATR," sent to Crimean Tatar diaspora. Photo credit: Cengiz Soysal. (Posted: April 2015)

Nowruz celebration in DC
Demonstration in front of Russian Consulate in New York

Screening of "Son of Crimea"

A Screening of the documentary "Son of Crimea: Struggle of A People" is scheduled for 28 March 2015 at the George Mason University, Arlington, VA. Parts 4 and 5 of the documentary that relate to Soviet human rights activist Petro Grigorenko will be shown along with another documentary in the making. Titled "Maidan, Petro Grigorenko and Crimean Tatar Dissidents," the program is organized by the Arlington Sister City Association, in cooperation with the International Committee for Crimea, Inc. and the Embassy of Ukraine. For more information, see the Flyer. (Posted: March 2015)

"Who Talks about the Crimean Tatars Nowadays?"

In his remarks delivered at the film screening of "Son of Crimea" at George Mason University on 28 March 2015, Paul Goble compared Petro Grigorenko (1907-1987) and Mustafa Jemilev (1943- ), both former Soviet dissidents and staunch defenders of Crimean Tatars. Grigorenko was stripped of his rank as a General in the Soviet Army and later his Soviet citizenship because of his unyielding stand on Crimean Tatars. The General insisted that terrible crimes had been committed against the Tatar population, who must be allowed to return to their homeland Crimea and have their own republic. Like Grigorenko and Jemilev, Goble argued, we must continue to speak about the Crimean Tatars whose human rights are being grossly violated under the oppressive rule of pro-Russian government of occupied Crimea. "Given the legacy of General Grigorenko, the efforts of Mustafa Jemilev, and the nature of the situation now," Goble concluded, "we cannot do any less." His remarks, "Who Talks about the Crimean Tatars Nowadays?" can be accessed here at this site.

Nowruz Celebration in Washingon, DC

International Committee for Crimea, Inc. was invited to the Nowruz Commission's Gala by the Embassy of Ukraine. We helped the Embassy staff organize a cultural exhibit of Crimean Tatar arts and crafts. Ukrainian Embassy participates in Nowruz Commission's events because of Crimean Tatars, the largest minority group in Ukraine who observe Nowruz. The festive event was held on 14 March 2015 in the Andrew Mellon Auditorium, Washington, DC. For related photos, see ICC's Picasa Web Album "Nowruz Commission's Gala."

Nowruz celebration in DC
Nowruz Celebration in DC

Religious Freedom in Crimea

"Status of Religious Freedom in Crimea Today" by Catherine Cosman is an excellent summary of developments since the Russian occupation of the peninsula in March 2014. The article details how the Russian law on extremism is affecting the Muslim population, namely Crimean Tatars, who have been subjected to numerous searches and confiscation of property. Ms. Cosman is a Senior Policy Analyst at the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, Washington, DC. (Posted: February 2015)

Greta Uehling on Crimean Tatars

Greta Uehling's new publication, "Crimean Tatars as Victims of Communism," traces the history of the various forms of repression under Soviet regime, famines, collectivization, elimination of intellectuals, mass deportation and "Detatarization of Crimea. The article helps us focus on the sufferings of Crimean Tatars prior to their return to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea in Ukraine and their efforts to reestablish their lives in their homeland before the Russian occupation of the peninsula in February 2014.

Stairs made grave markers
Stairs made of grave markers

Dr. Uehling teaches at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and is the author of a major work on Crimean Tatars, Beyond Memory (2004). She is on the ICC Board of Members. (Posted: January 2015)

Ukrainian Embassy expresses solidarity

We greatly appreciate the support of the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington DC. On 23 September 2014, Ukrainian Embassy staff held the Crimean Tatar flag, expressing their solidarity with Crimean Tatars fighting for freedom. They tweeted "I am Crimean Tatar" and "Crimea is Ukraine," inspired by Ukrainian President Victor Poroshenko's speech at the U.S. Congress, when he said "I am Crimean Tatar." (Posted: September 2014)

Ukrainian Embassy staff
Ukrainian Staff, holding Crimean Tatar flag

Victims of Communism Memorial Anniversary

Once again, Crimean Tatars were represented at the wreath-laying ceremony at the Victims of Communism Memorial, Washington, DC, on June 11, 2014. The occasion marked the 7th anniversary of the unveiling of the Monument in 2007 and the 20th anniversary of the establishment of Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.

Flowers in memory of Crimean Tatar victims
Flowers presented in memory of Crimean Tatars

During the ceremony, Myroslav Marynovych, a Ukrainian human rights advocate, received the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom. The other receipient, Mustafa Jemilev was unable to attend the ceremony. Ms. Lilia Muslimova, long-time secretary of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, delivered Mr. Jemilev's message. Diplomats from foreign embassies, Members of United States Congress, representatives from nonprofit organizations and ethnic groups attended the event. Over forty wreaths, bouquets and floral arrangements adorned the Memorial at the end of the 2-hour ceremony. The ICC presented a basket of flowers in memory of Crimean Tatars, victimized by the Soviet authorities. (Posted: June 2014)

Dream Land appears in Ukrainian translation

Dream Land, a novel by Lily Hyde, was recently issued in Ukrainian under the title Omriyanii krai (2014). It tells the story of a girl, who returns to Crimea with her family from exile in Uzbekistan. Her grandfather's stories provide background on the tragedies suffered by Crimean Tatars during deportation and exile. The problems of settling in their homeland Crimea are seen through the eyes of the 12-year old girl Safi. With this new edition, Lily Hyde's 2008 novel is now available three languages French, Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian. We are pleased to publish here Paul Goble's review, "Defining Novel about the Crimean Tatars Appears in Ukrainian." (Posted: June 2014)

Ukrainian edition of Dream Land

Amnesty International Report

Amnesty International issued its Public Statement on the harassment and violence against Crimean Tatars on May 23, 2014. "Despite assurances made by the de facto Crimean authorities to protect the rights of Tatars, since the annexation of the peninsula by Russia in March this year, the Tatar community has faced increasing violence and discrimination," said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International Director for Europe and Central Asia. The report is an excellent summary of human rights violations in Crimea, and it can be downloaded from the Amnesty's Web site. (Posted: June 2014)

"Son of Crimea" screened on May 18 and 22

In observance of the 70th anniversary of the Crimean Tatar deportation, the documentary "Son of Crimea: Struggle of a People" was screened at George Mason University, Arlington campus on May 18, 2014. The documentary tells the story of the Crimean Tatars' arduous journey during deportation, unsanitary conditions in cattle wagons used to transport them, and the misery awaiting the deportees in places of exile. Ukrainian Embassador Olexander Motsyk attended the event and addressed the audience. Inci Bowman of the ICC introduced the film and Paul Goble provided the commentary following the screening. The event was organized by Arlington Sister City Association, Ivano-Frankivsk (Ukraine) Committee; in cooperation with International Committee for Crimea, Inc., and the Embassy of Ukraine, Washington, DC. A report produced by the Voice of America: Ukrainian Service is available at VOA News Website (in Ukrainian).

Son of Crimea-poster

The May 22 screening of "Son of Crimea" was organized by the Assembly of Turkish American Associations in Washington DC, in cooperation with the ICC. Again, Inci Bowman introduced the film and handled the Q&A discussion.

A description of "Son of Crimea" is available at this Web site, and you may view the trailer for the documentary on YouTube: (Posted: June 2014)

Statement on Invasion of Crimea

The Board of Directors of the International Committee for Crimea, Inc. is deeply concerned about the recent political developments in Crimea. Since the end of February, Crimea has been under the illegal occupation of pro-Russian forces. Crimean Tatars, who were deported by Soviet authorities seventy years ago and still remember and feel the pain of the loss of their family members and their homeland, are naturally very apprehensive and fearful of what the future may hold for them. We are doing what we can by raising awareness of the situation in the US and stand in solidarity with the peoples of Crimea who opt for a life in a democratic society. (Posted: March 2014)

Mustafa Jemilev's message

See also: "An Urgent Appeal to President Barack Obama" by Mubeyyin B. Altan, a member of the ICC Board of Directors.

ICC participates in "Fallen Heroes" Vigil

Inci Bowman spoke at the "Fallen Heroes" silent protest to honor the memory of Ukrainians who died in Kyiv as a result of government crack down. The gathering was held in front of White House on 23 February 2014. Her remarks are posted here. (Posted: March 2014)

UNESCO participates in celebration of Ismail Bey Gaspirali's Life

This year (2014) marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Ismail Bey Gaspirali (1851-1914), a Crimean Tatar publisher, educator and reformer. UNESCO has included Gaspirali's name on the list of eminent personalities whose anniversaries are celebrated by Member States of the United Nations. Nominated by Turkey, with the support of Ukraine, Ismail Gaspirali is already a well-known figure in the Turkic world. He "was not only an educational reformer, a strong promoter of literacy, and proponent of mother-tongue education, but also an avid supporter of women's education and emancipation." See: UNESCO's "Celebration of Anniversaries in 2014."

A portrait of Gaspirali
Portrait of Ismail Bey Gaspirali

We hope that with UNESCO's endorsement, Gaspirali will be better appreciated worldwide. The ICC Web site already includes an important section on Gaspirali, developed on the 150th anniversary of his birth in 1851. Various aspects of Gaspirali's work are detailed in scholarly articles, a long obituary by a contemporary, a timeline and a bibliography. See: "Celebrating the Life of Ismail Bey Gaspirali." Throughout 2014, we will be sharing this important resource and reporting on events relating to the Gaspirali anniversary.

A new film about Crimean Tatars: "Coming Back"

This is a "must" film for anyone interested in Crimean Tatars. It is a documentary we have been waiting for many years. Produced by Ahmet Seven, a Turkish film maker, and published online by Al Jazeera Network, it covers the deportation of the Tatar population and their return to homeland Crimea. In fact, personal narratives by the survivors of deportation and long exile form an essential part of the film, making it extremely effective. "In the beginning, the lack of a video-archive about the exile seemed to be a deficiency," said the film producer Seven. "But this allowed me to place the human stories at the centre of the film." A lesser known tragic event at Arabat (Crimea), where the forgotten Tatar villagers, mostly women and children, were executed two months after the deportation in May 1944, is also included. We extend our appreciation to Ahmet Seven for his interest and creativity in producing the film. The 45-minutes documentary, "Coming Back," is available at Al Jazeera Network. (Posted: April 2014)

A Peace Corps Volunteer in Crimea

We are pleased to publish an interview with Barbara Wieser, who served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Simferopol, Crimea, from 2009 to 2013. She was based at the Gasprinskii Library, which houses a rich collection relating to Crimean Tatar literature and history. Her experiences in Crimea reveals what it means to be a volunteer working with people trying to revitalize their cultural heritage after decades of living in exile. Barbara Wieser is on the ICC Board of Directors and currently working on another Peace Corps related project in Kyiv. See: A Volunteer in Crimea: An Interview with Barbara Wieser. (Posted: January 2014)

For earlier announcements and news, see: ICC Notices (2011-2013) and ICC Notices (2008-2010).

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