December 10, 2004 marks the fifty-sixth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly. This historic document was promulgated to achieve "the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms." (Preamble of Universal Declaration of Human Rights.) The Article 21, Section 1 of this extraordinary document states:
Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his Country, directly or through freely chosen representatives....
In the Presidential election held on October 31, 2004, the Ukrainian people went to the polls to exercise their fundamental right to elect freely their next president. When the results of this election was announced and President Leonid Kuchma’s hand picked successor Viktor Yanukovych was declared the winner, many international observers as well as many Ukrainians were confused because the exit polls had shown the opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko as the clear winner. The supporters of the west oriented, reformist candidate Yushchenko felt betrayed, but they patiently waited for the run-off election scheduled for November 21, 2004. When the Central Election Commission announced Viktor Yanukovych as the winner, close to a million Ukrainians took to the streets to declare loudly their frustrations, as they felt their basic human rights were blatantly violated and their votes were out right "stolen." Thus began the "Orange Revolution" which took over the Independence Square in Kiev to protest this fraudulent election. For the next three weeks the participants of the "Orange Revolution" peacefully demonstrated against their government for violating their basic human rights. The sheer determination of the Ukrainian people to regain their blatantly violated rights and make their votes count was loudly applauded by the freedom-loving people throughout the world, including the Crimean Tatars.
The peaceful and colorful action of the Ukrainian people drew international attention. European Union's foreign policy chief Juvier Salana and several other European leaders actively participated in negotiations between the Ukrainian government and the opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko to resolve the political crisis. Finally, the Supreme Court of Ukraine after several days of deliberation, declared the run-off election of November 21 null and void, and announced a new election scheduled for December 26, 2004.
Yes, in less than two months, the rights of the Ukrainian people were restored with the support of the international community. No one can be as proud and as encouraged as the Crimean Tatars who have been waiting for their basic human and national rights to be restored for the past sixty years. Therefore,
- On this historic International Human Rights Day, we, the Crimean Tatars in Diaspora, appeal to Honorable Javier Salana, the foreign policy chief of European Union, as well as all the political leaders of the world to divert their attention to Crimea, another political hot spot in Ukraine and review the political and socio-economic status of the Crimean Tatars, the indigenous people of Crimea.
We also appeal to all the participants of the "Orange Revolution" to take a moment to pay attention to the status of the Crimean Tatar people, who after sixty years of peaceful struggle are still unable to return and resettle (in toto) in Crimea, their ancestral homeland from where they were unjustly and brutally deported on May 18, 1944. We appeal to you to help the Crimean Tatar people to regain their basic human and national rights violated by Stalin and the Stalinists sixty years ago and are still being violated.
- We invite you to carry the "Orange Revolution" to Crimea on 18 May 2005 and join the Crimean Tatar people to commemorate the darkest day in the Crimean Tatar history -- May 18, "Our Day of Mourning."
- On this historic International Human Rights Day, encouraged by the "Orange Revolution" and the international attention it received, we want the world to know our peaceful and simple task, which is to be able to return and resettle in the land of our ancestors and peacefully share Crimea with others who already live there. We want the world to know that Crimean Tatars have no other homeland but Crimea, and there is enough land there to be shared peacefully as it was prior to the shameful mass deportation of May 18, 1944.
A peaceful and successful International Human Rights Day to all.
Mubeyyin Batu Altan
International Committee for Crimea
11 December 2004
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