International Committee for Crimea
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The Victims of Communism Memorial and Crimean Tatars
The Victims of Communism Memorial was dedicated on 12 June 2007 in Washington, DC. The ten-foot bronze statue that stands at the center of the Memorial is a tribute to more than 100 million people who died as a result of revolutions, wars and atrocities committed by various communist regimes. The dedication ceremony were attended by US government officials, representatives from the Baltic and East European countries and Memorial supporters. The principal address was given by President George W. Bush, who accepted the Memorial on behalf of the American People.
More than a decade in the making, the Memorial is the brainchild of Dr. Lee Edwards who heads the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. The US Congress authorized the establishment of the Memorial and the government donated the land. But no federal funding was available for the Memorial, which is situated at the intersection of Massachusetts and New Jersey Avenues, NW, two blocks from the Union Station (Washington's train station). The Foundation raised the funds necessary to build the Memorial.
The Victims of Communism Memorial features a bronze copy of the "Goddess of Democracy" that was created by student activists in China's Tiananmen Square but destroyed by government tanks during that famous uprising in 1989. The inscription on the stone pedestal reads:
To the more than one hundred million victims of communism and to those who love liberty
Among the many individual and institutional sponsors of the Victims of Communism Memorial is Bizim Qirim (Our Crimea), an international nongovernmental organization based in Simferopol, Crimea. A legal entity that functions in compliance with the laws of Ukraine, Bizim Qirim, under the direction of its energetic President Abduraman Egiz, works toward preserving human rights, culture and customs of the Crimean Tatar people living in Ukraine, and promoting peace and tolerance among the various ethnic groups in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.
During the Dedication of the Victims of Communism Memorial, Crimean Tatars were represented by Ms. Ayla Bakkalli, who spoke on behalf of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis (Assembly) in Simferopol. The text of her Remarks is available at this Web site. Thousands of Crimea's native sons and daughters died as a result of forced migrations, artificially created famines, political repressions and deportations. The Soviet Union may be gone but its past crimes committed against our people are still felt today. Crimean Tatars understand and insist that the problems inherited from the Soviet communist era can only be addressed by democratic means. It is important that nameless victims of communism be remembered by such a Memorial that has been unveiled in Washington, DC. Crimean Tatars are among the supporters of the Memorial and were represented at the official Dedication on 12 June 2007.
For further information about the Memorial, see the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation Web site. See also A Victim's Reflections by M.B. Altan, who articulates what the unveiling of the Memorial has meant to a Crimean Tatar.