International Committee for Crimea
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A Victim's Reflections
Mubeyyin Batu Altan
The first memorial honoring over 100 million victims of Communism was dedicated on June 12, 2007 in Washington DC. Hundreds of people, including dignitaries from Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Romania and other countries, participated in the dedication ceremony where President George W. Bush was the principal and Hon. Congressman Tom Lantos was the keynote speakers. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and the chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation Dr. Lee Edwards also delivered poignant speeches pointing out the importance of this historic day. "...and here in the company of men and women who resisted the evil and helped bring down an empire, I proudly accept the Victims of Communism Memorial on behalf of American people," declared President Bush, adding the newest memorial to the list of memorials in Washington DC.
I was there for myself, for my family, for my community and for my people who continue to suffer under the remnants of communism. I was there for myself because I am a victim of Soviet Communism. I was only forty days old when my family was forced out of Crimea, leaving most of our loved ones behind.
I was there for my family who were the true victims of Soviet Communism. They experienced the deportation of Kulaks, the artificial famine of 1932-33, the forced labor camps and the mass deportation of 1944. My polio stricken paternal grandfather (May Allah's blessings be upon him!) died of starvation during the artificial famine of 1932. My paternal grandmother buried five members of her family within five days in 1931. My family, those who were able escape, spent many years in war-torn Europe as "Stateless People," running from one city to another, not knowing where they would end up, or what tomorrow would bring. They spent many horrible years in refugee camps trying to survive. No one knew their sufferings and no one cared. I was there for them.
I was at the dedication of the Victims of Communism Memorial on June 12, 2007, also for my community, the Crimean Tatar community in New York. Most of our members (many of them passed away) were also victims of communism, and this memorial honors their long suffering as well.
Finally, I was there for my people, the Crimean Tatars, who were and still are the victims of Soviet communism. I was there to witness a historic day that recognizes the long suffering of all "Victims of Communism," including myself, my family, my community and my people.
It was, indeed, an emotional and honorable day for me. I was able to honor those who sacrificed their lives for the cause of freedom and democracy, and those who continue to fight peacefully for these inalienable rights. In addition, meeting many interesting people who are concerned about human rights and briefly drawing their attention to the continuing plight of the Crimean Tatars made this day a memorable one. I was able to briefly discuss the current socio-political status of the Crimean Tatars with a Council of Europe member who has just returned from Kiev, and who asked me to send him all the information about Crimean Tatars. I had a chance to briefly talk to the former President of Romania, HE Emil Constantinescu, about the Crimean Tatars in Romania. During the Round Table Discussion held in the afternoon, I was able to ask one of the panelist, a member of European Parliament from Estonia, whether or not the European Union members have the "Political Will" to investigate the plight of the Crimean Tatar people in Crimea, and prepare an objective report. Talking to Dr.Paul Goble, a long time friend of Crimean Tatar people, about the current situation in Crimea made this day a memorable one.
I am glad that I had this opportunity to be part of this historic day honoring the "Victims of Communism," including the Crimean Tatars. My sincere thanks and appreciation go to Dr. Lee Edwards and all those who made this day possible!