Crimean Tatars mourn fate as Ukraine hosts summit

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Kiev – Erfan Kudusov fled Crimea with his wife and four children, as well as many other Crimean Tatars angered by the Moscow regime after Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Black Sea peninsula in 2014.

For Crimean Tatars and others, the Russian takeover evokes the tragic family memories of the massive transfer of Crimean Tatars in 1944 at the behest of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, creating fears of discrimination and persecution. I did.

Their fears materialized.

Several of Kudusov’s friends who remained in Crimea were subsequently convicted of extremism, separatism and membership of a banned organization, and sentenced to eight to nineteen years in prison.

The fate of the Crimean Tatars is of paramount importance at Monday’s first meeting of the Crimean Platform, an international summit convened by Ukraine to pressure Russia over annexations which have been accused of ‘be illegal in most parts of the world. It’s a.

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“My fear of children and memories of oppression against my people forced us to put everything in two suitcases and leave our beloved Yalta in one day,” Kudusov said. He told The Associated Press in his small restaurant in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. .. “Most of the people who left were well educated and energetic people who actively opposed the occupation of Crimea. “

Only the covers of the ancestors of their Koran, a few paintings of the rocky landscapes of Crimea and some pottery now remind Kudusov of his hometown. Letters from prisons and conversations with relatives on messaging apps paint a harsh picture of the life of the Crimean Tatars, who are now under Russian control.

“Russia is forcing the concentration camps behind a beautiful facade,” Kudusov said. “The people of Crimea are very scared and afraid to speak out loud. “

In August 2018, Vatan Karbash protested the authorities’ decision to destroy the homes of the Crimean Tatars by setting fire to Simferopol, the local capital of Crimea. He survived a severe burn.

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Ethnic Russians, who make up the majority of the 2.3 million people in Crimea, broadly supported annexation of Russia, while Crimean Tatars, who account for nearly 15%, opposed the takeover from Moscow. Since 2014, around 30,000 Crimean Tatars have fled Crimea.

Some of those who remained faced a relentless crackdown by Russian authorities banning key representatives of the Crimean Tatars and some religious groups. About 80 Crimean Tatars have been sentenced and 15 activists are missing, according to Amnesty International.

“The Russian Federation continues its policy of intimidation, systematic pressure and criminal prosecution against Crimean Tatars who disagree with the occupation or refuse to cooperate with the de facto authorities,” said Katerina, a member of the group. advocacy. ・ Mitieva said. “The homes of Crimean Tatar militants are systematically searched by the FSB (Federal Security Service of Russia).

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Just last week, four Crimean Tatars were sentenced to 12 to 18 years in prison for their partnership with Hizb Tatars, an international Islamist group that Russia banned as a terrorist organization in 2003. I did. . Banned in most Arab countries, China, Turkey and Germany.

“Russia has brought a unique vision of imperialism, fear and freedom, and an understanding of who is a friend and who is an enemy,” Mufti Eider Rustamov said in frequent Crimean Tatar mosques in Kiev. Noted.

Moscow strongly rejected accusations of discrimination against the Crimean Tatars. The Russian Foreign Ministry stressed the construction of a new mosque in Crimea, the allocation of 100,000 plots to the Crimean Tatars and the expansion of support for cultural and educational projects of the Crimean Tatars.

At the same time, Russian authorities accused the Crimean Tatars of protesting annexation in the interests of Ukraine, and Russian law punished those who demand the return of Crimea to Ukraine.

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Refat Chubarov, leader of the Crimean Tatars Mediris, the representative body of the ethnic group, was absent from a Russian court in June for six years to protest the 2014 merger, alleging it caused widespread chaos. Was sentenced to.

“Moscow continues to oppress the Crimean Tatars, and all these repressive measures, including arrests and long sentences, restrict the will of the people and force them to leave Crimea out of fear for the future of their children. Is targeted, ”said Chubarov. A person who was forced to leave the Black Sea Peninsula in 2014.

Chubarov accused Moscow of encouraging people from other areas to settle in Crimea, with more than 500,000 Russians settled in Crimea since annexation.

“In front of us, the Russian authorities have artificially altered the ethnic makeup of Crimea,” he said.

In 2016, Russian authorities banned Mejlis as an extremist organization. In 2017, an international tribunal asked Russia to abolish the ruling, but ignored the ruling.

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“Moscow completely ignores all decisions, appeals, recommendations and judgments of international organizations and tribunals,” Chubarov said.

Ukraine created the Crimean Platform to bring international attention to the fate of Crimea. It held its first meeting in Kiev on Monday, bringing together senior leaders from 44 countries and blocs, including the United States, the European Union and Turkey.

“(This is) a platform for continuous dialogue aimed at strengthening international and Ukrainian efforts to occupy the Crimean peninsula,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Emine Japarova told AP.

Ukrainian officials say that a large-scale construction project launched by Russia in Crimea aims to militarize the peninsula.

“Crimea is a military base that takes Ukrainian citizens hostage,” Dzhaparova said.

“To be a Crimean Tatar is to keep a genetic memory of the pain my people suffer from,” said Susana Jamala Dinova, a singer who won the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest under the stage name Jamala. Said in a cruel song mourning the Soviet deportation of 1944.

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“The ethnocide is ongoing in Crimea. A memorial gathering for the Crimean Tatars is also prohibited, ”said a 37-year-old singer born in Kyrgyzstan, a country in Central Asia.

In May 1944, about 200,000 Crimean Tatars, who represent about a third of the Crimean population, were transferred by Stalin to the 3,200 km of eastern grasslands of Central Asia. Soviet dictators accused them of working with the Nazis – claims widely dismissed as false by historians. It is estimated that half of them died in the next 18 months from famine and harsh conditions.

Other ethnic groups facing similar massive deportations on Stalin’s orders were allowed to return to their hometowns shortly after the death of the Soviet dictator in 1953, while Crimean Tatars were allowed to return to their hometowns afterwards. the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. I was not allowed to come back at the last minute.

According to Kudusov, his father was two years old during the Stalinist deportation, and his own twins were the age when he and his family fled Crimea in 2014.

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“It sounds scary and surreal,” he said. “But my family’s experience shows that Crimean Tatars always return to Crimea.”

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Vladimir Isachenkov from Moscow contributed to this report.

Copyright 2021 AP communication. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


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