International Committee for Crimea
ICC, P.O. Box 15078, Washington, DC 20003.
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CRIMEAN TATARS HAVE THE RIGHT TO RETURN TO THEIR ANCESTRAL HOMELAND (CRIMEA) AND JOIN THE WORLD COMMUNITY OF NATIONS
We, the undersigned, are deeply concerned with the ongoing plight of the Crimean Tatars, a Turkic-Muslim people, who remain as one of the very few, if not the only nationality of the former Soviet Union, yet to be politically rehabilitated.
The entire Crimean Tatar population was unjustly and brutally uprooted from their ancestral homeland on May 18th, 1944. After the deportation, their homes, mosques, schools and national cemeteries were bulldozed by Soviet authorities. 46.2% of the Crimean Tatar population, mostly women and children, perished because of hunger, thirst and illness during this deportation. To this day, fifty three years after the mass deportation, the majority of the Crimean Tatars still remain in exile in Central Asia, mainly in Uzbekistan, where they were deported to, anxiously waiting to return to the land of their ancestors.
There are 270,000 Crimean Tatars in the Crimea, most of them financed their own return by sacrificing their life-long savings to face further discrimination in their own homeland. 130,000 out of 270,000 Crimean Tatars are yet to be given Ukrainian citizenship due to the new citizenship law which requires a five year waiting period for citizenship. This puts the lives of these returnees, especially the children and the elderly, in jeopardy because they are not eligible to use the available health care or social assistance awarded to citizens only.
Ukraine and Uzbekistan have tried to negotiate a settlement to assist Crimean Tatars to return home, but could not agree on who should be eligible for financial assistance. Uzbek authorities want to consider only those Crimean Tatars who were born in the Crimea and who were physically deported from the Crimea, as "deportees" who should be awarded financial assistance. As most of the Crimean Tatars who remain in Uzbekistan were born in Uzbekistan, this type of help practically means very little.
Furthermore, the Crimean Tatar people have elected the Crimean Tatar National Mejlis, to represent them in every level of their national struggle to regain their political and human rights. It is a democratically elected body which is yet to be officially recognized by any country, including Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Russia. It is extremely difficult for the Crimean Tatar Mejlis to fight for the rights of her people as long as she does not have the "de jure" recognition. The Crimean Tatar National Mejlis is barely standing on its feet; it lacks all the means to build a strong infrastructure necessary for a new nation. Official recognition of the Mejlis which will eliminate these problems, is therefore imperative.
We, sincerely believe that the Crimean Tatar people have been punished long enough for a crime they never committed -- even the Soviet Government admitted this with a decree promulgated on September 5, 1967.
We, therefore, strongly urge The US. Government, The European Commission at Brussels, the U. N. Commission on Human Rights and President Leonid D. Kuchma of Ukraine and President Islam Kerimov of Uzbekistan to:
Help Crimean Tatars to regain their national and human rights and join the world community of nations!
ICC, P.O.Box 15078, Washington, DC 20003