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Mustafa Jemilev Visits Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation

Mustafa Jemilev, leader of the Crimean Tatar de facto Mejlis (Assembly) and a member of the Ukrainian Parliament (Verkhovna Rada), met with Dr. Lee Edwards, Chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation during his recent visit to Washington, DC. Jemilev expressed his appreciation for the innovative work the Foundation is doing under the leadership of Dr. Edwards.

Mustafa Jemilev and Lee Edwards

Mustafa Jemilev and Lee Edwards

A well-known Soviet dissident who was sentenced multiple times by the Soviet government and spent nearly one fourth of his life in the Gulag, Jemilev stated that the Crimean Tatars are the true victims of communism, having suffered the deportation of their entire population, political repression and ethnic cleansing. Even after their return in the early 1990s, Crimean Tatars are still an oppressed minority in their homeland. They have received minimal support from the Ukrainian government and the state has failed to pass a law to protect their rights as indigenous people of Crimea. Lack of adequate schools to study in their own language, failure to receive land as compensation for the lost property confiscated by the Soviets when they were deported, and continuing discrimination and social injustices faced by the repatriates, all undermine the stability and security of Crimea. The election of Victor Yanukovych as President of Ukraine early this year has further deteriorated the situation, Jemilev said, because the Crimean Tatars largely voted for his opponent. An International Forum is being planned by the Crimean Tatar leadership in an effort to draw the attention of world leaders and international organizations to the predicament of the Crimean Tatars. Jemilev extended an invitation to Dr. Edwards and asked him to participate in the Forum, and Edwards made a number of suggestions and pledged his support.

The meeting with Dr. Edwards was held at the Heritage Foundation on December 13, 2010. Mustafa Jemilev was accompanied by Ms. Ayla Bakkalli, Advocacy Director, American Association of Crimean Turks, New York; Dr. Idil Izmirli and Dr. Inci Bowman, current and past presidents of the International Committee for Crimea, Washington, DC; and Mr. Arsen Zhumadilov, serving as Jemilev's translator. Following the meeting, the group proceeded to the Victims of Communism Memorial to lay a basket of flowers in memory of Crimean Tatars who lost their lives due to the notoriously destructive policies of the Soviet communist regime.

Inci Bowman, Ph.D.

Posted: 18 December 2010

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