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News of Interest
Statement on Invasion of Crimea
The Board of Directors of the International Committee for Crimea, Inc. is deeply concerned about the recent political developments in Crimea. Since the end of February, Crimea has been under the illegal occupation of pro-Russian forces. Crimean Tatars, who were deported by Soviet authorities seventy years ago and still remember and feel the pain of the loss of their family members and their homeland, are naturally very apprehensive and fearful of what the future may hold for them. We are doing what we can by raising awareness of the situation in the US and stand in solidarity with the peoples of Crimea who opt for a life in a democratic society.
See also: "An Urgent Appeal to President Barack Obama" by Mubeyyin B. Altan, a member of the ICC Board of Directors.
ICC participates in "Fallen Heroes" Vigil
Inci Bowman spoke at the "Fallen Heroes" silent protest to honor the memory of Ukrainians who died in Kyiv as a result of government crack down. The gathering was held in front of White House on 23 February 2014. Her remarks are posted here.
UNESCO participates in celebration of Ismail Bey Gaspirali's Life
This year (2014) marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Ismail Bey Gaspirali (1851-1914), a Crimean Tatar publisher, educator and reformer. UNESCO has included Gaspirali's name on the list of eminent personalities whose anniversaries are celebrated by Member States of the United Nations. Nominated by Turkey, with the support of Ukraine, Ismail Gaspirali is already a well-known figure in the Turkic world. He "was not only an educational reformer, a strong promoter of literacy, and proponent of mother-tongue education, but also an avid supporter of women's education and emancipation." See: UNESCO's "Celebration of Anniversaries in 2014."
Portrait of Ismail Bey Gaspirali
We hope that with UNESCO's endorsement, Gaspirali will be better appreciated worldwide. The ICC Web site already includes an important section on Gaspirali, developed on the 150th anniversary of his birth in 1851. Various aspects of Gaspirali's work are detailed in scholarly articles, a long obituary by a contemporary, a timeline and a bibliography. See: "Celebrating the Life of Ismail Bey Gaspirali." Throughout 2014, we will be sharing this important resource and reporting on events relating to the Gaspirali anniversary.
Euromaidan and Crimean Tatars
A central square in Kyiv, Ukraine, has been the site of demonstrations and civil unrest since 21 November 2013, now referred to as Euromaidan. Massive protests followed the government announcement that the plans to sign Association Agreement with European Union was being suspended. Participation in the protest movement swelled in numbers to hundreds of thousands of people, especially on weekends, despite heavy police presence and violence, and sub-freezing temperatures.
A protester carrying EU flag with Crimean Tatar emblem
Crimean Tatars got involved in the Euromaidan from the early days of protests because of their strong belief that their full integration into the society depends on the development of democracy in Ukraine. Refat Chubarov, Chairman of the newly elected Mejlis in Simferopol, visited Kyiv several times and spoke to the protesters. Crimean Tatar flags are frequently seen among Ukrainian and European Union flags at the site of Euromaidan demonstrations, still ongoing in Kyiv. (Photo credit: AP Images)
A new film about the deportation of Crimean Tatars, Haytarma was first screened in Simferopol in May of this year. It is based on the experiences of Amet Khan Sultan, a decorated fighter pilot in the Soviet armed forces. He is given a leave to visit his family in Crimea just prior to the deportation and witnesses the sorrowful and tragic departure of his people. The film stirred up emotions among the Crimean Tatar viewers as well as controversy which led to the resignation of the Russian Consul in Crimea. We are pleased to publish a review of the film Haytarma written by Greta Uehling. See: "The Release of Haytarma and its Aftermath."Update (October 5, 2013): Since we published the review of the film Kaytarma, it has been screened at a theater in Moscow (in June) and in at Ukrainian Embassy in Berlin (in September). It was one of the three films suggested to the Ukrainian committee overseeing the Oscar nominations for the Best Foreign Language Film from Ukraine. Organizers of a Film Festival in Kazan (Russia) had included Haytarma in their program, but it was withdrawn at the request of the Russian Foreign Ministry. The film was nevertheless admitted to the International Golden Orange Film Festival in Antalya (Turkey) and screened on October 4, 2013. A group of Crimean Tatars from Crimea as well as members of the Turkish diaspora attended the event.
Update (February 8, 2014): Included in the Bridges to the World International Film Festival (February 3-March 7), the film Haytarma was screened in different parts of the state of Maryland during the week of February 3. Festival organizers had asked various embassies in Washington, DC, to submit a film, and Haytarma was the choice of the Embassy of Ukraine. The Film Festival is sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of State of Maryland. We saw the film at the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts in Annapolis. The trailer of Haytarma (in Russian) can be seen on YouTube.
A Peace Corps Volunteer in Crimea
We are pleased to publish an interview with Barbara Wieser, who served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Simferopol, Crimea, from 2009 to 2013. She was based at the Gasprinskii Library, which houses a rich collection relating to Crimean Tatar literature and history. Her experiences in Crimea reveals what it means to be a volunteer working with people trying to revitalize their cultural heritage after decades of living in exile. Barbara Wieser is on the ICC Board of Directors and currently working on another Peace Corps related project in Kyiv. See: A Volunteer in Crimea: An Interview with Barbara Wieser.
Mustafa Jemilev's 70th Birthday
Mustafa Jemilev, Crimean Tatar leader, well-known former Soviet dissident and human rights activist, celebrates his 70th birthday on November 13. This is a particularly a significant period in his life; he just stepped down as Chairman of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis. After directing the political affairs of the Mejlis for over 20 years, Jemilev now continues in his position as a member of the Ukrainian Parliament. We extend our best wishes to Mustafa Jemilev, his family and the new Tatar leadership in Crimea.
See: ICC statement issued on the occasion of Jemilev's 70th birthday.
OSCE's Report on Crimea
The OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities issued an important report, The Integration of Formerly Deported People in Crimea, Ukraine (August 2013). It provides an up-to-date analysis of the current situation with respect to national minorities in Crimea and offers recommendations for easing inter-ethnic tensions.
"While the Government of Ukraine and the Crimean authorities have made laudable attempts to facilitate repatriation and resolve some of the issues facing the formerly deported people (FDPs), many structural problems remain," notes Knut Vollebaek, High Commissioner on National Minorities.
Among the experts who contributed to the report is Dr. Idil Izmirli, a board member of the International Committee of Crimea,Inc.
The report is in English and available at the OSCE Web site:
Cover of the OSCE Report (detail)
First Reports in English on Crimean Tatar confrontations and trials, 1969
The ICC is pleased to make available two historically significant articles from the English newspaper The Observer, published in 1969, relating to Crimean Tatar confrontations with Soviet security forces. The first article, "Exiled Tatars in struggle with Kremlin," appeared on the front page of the newspaper under an anonymous byline but was written by Peter Reddaway. The two photographs accompanying the newspaper story are described as: EXCLUSIVE: FIRST PICTURES OF CLASHES IN RUSSIA. A follow-up article, also by Professor Reddaway, "Crimes against Tatars being hushed up," dealt with the trials of Crimean Tatars in Taskhent (Uzbekistan) and the arrest of General Petro Grigorenko. We are grateful to Professor Reddaway for reporting on the struggles of Crimean Tatars against the Soviet authorities for the first time in a major Western newspaper more than four decades ago.
Front page of The Observer, 30 March 1969
Photographs relating to Crimean Tatars and Related Activities
Photographs relating to Crimean Tatars and related activities are now available at the FLICKR or PICASA Web sites:
- Fallen Heroes Vigil, Washington DC, 23 February 2014
- Nenkejan Women's Club participates in 2012 GFWC Convention
- International Conference in Crimea, 14-15 October 2011
- Ceremony at Victims of Communism Memorial, Washington, DC, 10 June 2010
- Memorial Meeting in Simferopol,Crimea, 18 May 2010
- Nowruz Celebration at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC
- Wreath-laying Ceremony in Washington, DC, 18 May 2009
- Memorial Meeting in Simferopol, 18 May 2009.
- World Congress of Crimean Tatars, Simferopol, 19-23 May 2009.
- Activities of International Day of the World's Indigenous People, Simferopol, 8 August 2009
- A Crimean Tatar Wedding
- Children of Crimea
- Crimean Tatar Embroidery
- And More ...
Last Update: 5 March 2014