International Committee for Crimea

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Zincirli Medrese in Bahçesaray, Crimea

One of the oldest educational institutions in eastern Europe, Zincirli Medrese was established in 1500 by Mengli Giray Khan. It was a traditional Islamic school of higher learning and served generations of students until 1917, when it was turned into a medical school by the Bolshevik authorities. In 1939, the complex of buildings surrounding the Zincirli Medrese became a mental hospital. After the return to their homeland, Crimean Tatars were able to gain control of the historic Medrese building. However, a decree issued on 27 March 2001 by the Council of Ministers of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea turned the ownership of the remaining buildings in the compex over to the Svyato-Uspenskiy Monastery. Following strong protests from the Criman Tatar community, the decision has been put on hold.

Posted: November 2001


The Crimean Tatar Kurultay Meets in Simferopol

The 4th Kurultay of the Crimean Tatar people met in Simferopol, 9-11 November 2001. In addition to electing members to the Mejlis, the representative political body of the Crimean Tatars living in Crimea, the delegates considered a number of issues vital to them. Mustafa Jemilev (or Kirimoglu), the well-known human rights activist and leader of Crimean Tatars, was re-elected Chairman of the Mejlis. Among the pressing issues discussed were land distribution, political representation in the government of Crimea, and upcoming local and national elections. The Kurultay also issued a number of statements, including one on terrorism. While condemning the recent horrible terrorist attacks on the United States, the group reiterated its longstanding principle of non-violence, which should be, they said, the basis for resolving all conflicts between the people and governing powers. (More)
Photo Credit: Ayder Seitosman, Simferopol

Posted: January 2002


Crimean Tatar Theater is Alive and Well

In December 2001, the Crimean Tatar National Theater in Simferopol celebrated its 100th anniversary. Following the return of Crimean Tatars to their homeland, the Theater was reorganized in 1990. To date the group produced over 35 plays and performed successfully in Ukraine and abroad.
Equally exciting is the work of the Bakhchisaray Theater-Studio, an experimental theater founded in 1999 and staffed by young people (aged 9 to 23). Their popular production of Annecigim, nerdesin? Kel! [Dear Mother, where are you? Come!], based on a story by Asan Sabri Ayvazov, has been staged in various towns and schools. Awarded the "People's Theater" title in May 2001, the Theater-Studio participated in an International Theater Festival in Evpatoria in August, and received a special citation. For an update, see the Web site of the Theater-Studio. Photo Credit: A scene from Annecigim, nerdesin? Kel! Courtesy of Bakhchisaray Theater-Studio.

Posted: February 2002


Crimean Tatar Monument of Rebirth

Plans are underway to build a monument to mark the return of Crimean Tatars to their homeland after a fifty-year exile. Sponsored by the Crimean State Institute of Industry and Pedagogy in Simferopol, Ukraine, the monument will consist of a park with a central alley lined with trees, a pool and a fountain at each end, and sculptures representing hopes and aspirations of the Crimean Tatar people. It will be built next to the Crimean State Institute. Founded in 1994, the Institute offers programs in engineering, accounting, education, applied arts and philology, and is one of the centers for the integration of cultures of diverse people living in Crimea. For additional information on the Monument of Rebirth or to find out how you can help with the programs of the Institute, see the next page.

Posted: April 2002


Crimean Tatars Observe the Memorial Day of Deportation

On May 18, Crimean Tatar communities in Crimea, Turkey, Romania and the US observed the 58th anniversary of their deportation from their homeland by the Soviet authorities. In the early hours of May 18, 1944, the entire Tatar population of Crimea, mostly women, children and the elderly were removed from their homes and shipped to the Urals, Siberia and Central Asia, while their men served in the Soviet army. Crimean Tatars claim that about half of them died on the way to and in places of exile. In the early 1990s, about half of the deported population returned to Crimea. For additional information on the deportation and the Memorial Day ceremony held in Simferopol, please see the report written by Ms. Idil Noyan-Izmirli.

Posted: June 2002


Crimean Tatar politician holds online conference

Ilmi Umerov Mr. Ilmi Umerov, Deputy Speaker of the Parliament of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and a member of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, held a conference over the Internet on October 31. The questions came from individuals well versed in Crimean and Ukrainian politics, and covered a range of topics: inter-ethnic relations in Crimea, the Crimean Tatar quest for national-territorial autonomy, restitution for confiscated property of deported people, the Chechen conflict and Crimean Tatars, and others. Even the adversaries admitted that the Crimean Tatars are politically well organized and in a better position to negotiate with the authorities than most minority groups. The conference was sponsored by the Ukrainian Web site Maidan, www.maidan.org.ua, and an English translation of the conference transcript is available at the Crimean Aspects Web site: http://aspects.crimeastar.net/english/iumerov_conf.htm
(Photo: Ilmi Umerov, addressing the Polish Parliament, 1999)

Posted: December 2002


On the 59th anniversary of Mass Deportation of Crimean Tatars

Fifteen Minutes by S. X. Osmanov Every year on May 18, Crimean Tatar communities in Crimea, Turkey, Romania, Russia and the US observe the anniversary of their deportation from their homeland by the Soviet authorities. In the early hours of May 18, 1944, the entire Tatar population of Crimea, mostly women, children and the elderly were removed from their homes and shipped to the Urals, Siberia and Central Asia, while their men served in the Soviet army. To commemorate this tragic event, we present here an essay by Mubeyyin Altan, which includes the responses of American children upon learning about deportation of Crimean Tatars.
Photo: "Fifteen Minutes," a painting by Seit Xalil Osmanov. Courtesy of M. Altan. The title refers to the very short time that the deportees had to get ready and leave their homes.

Posted: May 2003


New Resource Center of Crimean State University of Engineering and Pedagogy, Simferopol

Resource Center A new Resource Center at the Crimean State University of Engineering and Pedagogy in Simferopol opened in April 2003. Supported by the United States Embassy in Kiev, the Center is equipped with computers, video and audio devices, copying machines, reference books, CD's and audiotapes as well as publications relating to world and American literature. The Internet access from the Center's computers has already made the place popular with students, professors, and members of the community who come to the Library to use the Internet facilities. English language instructors utilize the resources of the Center while preparing for classes and use the materials for class discussions. For brief information about the Crimean State University, see the next page.

Posted: July 2003


Mustafa Jemilev Celebrates His 60th Birthday

Mustafa Jemilev Mustafa Jemilev, Chairman of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis and a member of the Ukrainian Parliament observed his sixtieth birthday on 13 November 2003. Also known as Mustafa Abdulcemil Kirimoglu, especially among the Turkish and Tatar speaking circles, Jemilev is the recognized leader of the Crimean Tatar National Movement, a former Soviet dissident who spent nearly one fourth of his life in Soviet prisons and labor camps, and a recipient of the Nansen Medal, awarded by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

For additional information about Mustafa Jemilev, see the ICC statement and the related online documents. Photo Credit: Inci Bowman, 1998.

Posted: November 2003


The Hansaray and the Royal Cemetery in Bahçesaray

royal cemetery The Palace of the Khans (Hansaray) in Bahçesaray was the administrative center of the Crimean Khanate for nearly three centuries. Built by Mengli Giray in the early 16th century, the Hansaray (now a museum) grew into a complex of buildings and courtyards, with a mosque and a royal cemetery. The presence of the adjacent royal cemetery makes the Hansaray a unique structure among the palaces in the Turkco-Islamic world. An important study by Nicole Kançal-Ferrari of the epitaphs and art of the gravestones in the royal cemetery reveals the influence of ancient Turkic and Ottoman cultural traditions. (The illustrated article may be viewed on the Web, in PDF format, about 1 MB. See also Crimean Tatar Architecture at this site.)

Posted: February 2004


Ethnic Tensions in Crimea on the Rise

Homeland or Death As the Crimean Tatars prepare to commemorate the 60th anniversary of their brutal deportation from their homeland on 18 May 1944, organized attacks on Crimean Tatars are increasing. A group of skinheads stabbed a Crimean Tatar in Simferopol, an incident that later led to a clash in a local cafe. A Cossack paramilitary group destroyed two tentative homes in a Crimean Tatar settlement near Yalta. And more recently, in the early hours of 31 March, the building of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis (self-ruling assembly) was subjected to an arson attack. What is also so deploring is the anti-Crimean Tatar reporting in the Russian mass media. (See the Appeal issued by the International Committee for Crimea. Photo Courtesy: Nadir Bekir, Simferopol, Crimea.)

Posted: April 2004


60th Anniversary of Sürgün

Monument of Crimean Tatar Martyrs in Coram, NY The 60th anniversary of Sürgün, the brutal deportation of Crimean Tatars from their homeland on 18 May 1944, was observed in Crimea and Crimean Tatar diaspora communities worldwide. A large protest meeting held in Simferopol, Crimea, was attended by about 25,000 Crimean Tatars. Members of the New York community met at the Monument of Crimean Tatar Martyrs in Coram, NY, to remember and pray for the victims of the deportation. This monument, first dedicated on 18 May 1986, is the first of its kind to honor all those who died during and after the deportation in places of exile. (For the ICC response, see Mubeyyin Altan's essay, including samples of personal narratives of survivors. Photo Courtesy: M. Altan, Washington, DC)

Posted: June 2004


Crimean Tatar Monument of Rebirth Unveiled

Crimean Tatar Monument of Rebirth Unveiled The Ukrainian Prime Minister Victor Yanukovich unveiled the Crimean Tatar Monument of Rebirth on 17 May 2004, the day before the 60th anniversary of the brutal deportation of Crimean Tatars from their homeland. The Monument is located on the campus of the Crimean State University of Engineering and Pedagogy in Simferopol, Crimea. "I believe that the national culture of the Crimean Tatars will live on," Mr. Yanukovich said, "and their spririt, which totalitarianism was unable to overcome, will live on." The focal point of the Monument is a reflecting pool, which symbolizes the moral purification of a nation who has gone through a great ordeal and suffering in asserting its national identity. For more information about the Monument, see the description posted earlier to this site. (Photo Courtesy: Dr. Zarema Seydametova, Simferopol)

Posted: August 2004


Crimean Tatars and the "Orange Revolution" in Ukraine

Crimean Tatar Flag seen during the demonstrations in Kiev During the last Presidential election in Ukraine, Crimean Tatars overwhelmingly voted for the opposition candidate Victor Yushchenko. Following the first run-off on November 21, Crimean Tatars were among the hundreds of thousands of people who converged on the Ukrainian capital to protest the fraudulent election and declared that their candidate was the true winner. They were also among the small group of Yushchenko supporters who set up tents in Crimea. As the Human Rights Day was observed worldwide on December 10, the "Orange Revolution" gave citizens of Ukraine new hope that their country is on the verge of emerging as a democratic state. Encouraged by the recent events in Ukraine and the international attention the movement has received, the Crimean Tatars are hopeful that their own national rights may be restored and they be allowed to live peacefully in Crimea, their ancestral homeland from where they were unjustly and brutally deported sixty years ago.

Posted: December 2004


Crimean Tatar Problem in the USSR, 1944-1991

Cover of the book on Crimean Tatars Fourteen years in the making, Crimean Tatar Problem in the USSR, 1944-1991 by Gulnara Bekirova is a new book based on extensive research in the archives of top government bodies of the former Soviet Union. Refat Chubarov, a member of the Ukrainian Parliament, praised the book as "a convincing evidence for the professionalism of the new generation of Crimean Tatar historians." The book includes many documents previously classified. In an interview with a Simferopol newspaper, Bekirova talked about her experiences in the Soviet archives and how she set out to find out the legal reasons why Crimean Tatars were denied entry to Crimea. You can read the interview here and see the Table of Contents (in English translation) of this important book.

Posted: March 2005


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