Crimean Tatars have a colossal experience of struggle.
President of the World Congress of Crimean Tatars, chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people Refat Chubarov has stated that in his interview to Charter97.org.
On March 17, Refat Chubarov took part in the ceremony of presenting the Viktar Ivashkevich National Award for the Defense of Human Rights, established by Charter97.org.
– This spring was marked by four years since the beginning of the illegal occupation of the Crimean peninsula by Russia. How do the Crimean Tatars struggle, what are they focused on?
– As you know, we experienced the greatest tragedy in the 20th century. In 1944, on May 18, following the decree of Stalin, the Crimean Tatars were completely deported from their land. Since then, we have struggled for 45 years to return back to our land.
What is happening today has much in common with what happened in 1944. The only difference is that it's the 21st century and Putin, unlike Stalin, does not dare to put hundreds of thousands of people in a car and take them out of the Crimea while the whole world is watching.
Therefore, the Russian invaders are now trying to squeeze the Crimean Tatars off from their land as much as possible by intimidation. And not only Crimean Tatars – other people are affected too, if they are not loyal to the invaders. Russia turns the Crimea into a powerful springboard for further aggression, to intimidate its neighbors.
This is a springboard on the southern flank of NATO and, of course, Russians do not need people who do not welcome them on such a military bridgehead.
Crimean Tatars have a tremendous experience of struggle in conditions of various totalitarian regimes. What saves them and helps to keep dignity in this situation is the realization that their main goal is the intention to live on their land. They do and will keep doing everything to stay in the Crimea.
The Crimea unites us, although sometimes we can have different political views. And when it comes to understanding that we should stay on our land and protect our land from intruders, it motivates us tremendously, practically all of us, except, perhaps, several dozen people.
– Today, presidential elections are held in Russia. What do you think about this event?
– Today, presidential "elections" are held in the Russian Federation, but they are obviously criminal as they are extended to the territory of another state, and citizens of another state will take part in these "elections" because they are forced to.
The Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar addressed all people living in the Crimea in advance, urging them not to take part in the illegal "elections" and not to become accomplice in the crime that Putin and his entourage are now committing not only against Ukraine, but also against the entire civilized world.
We receive daily a huge amount of reports about the unprecedented pressure that the Russian invaders put on the Crimean Tatars. A lot of people depend on the occupation authorities which force them to go to the polling-centers themselves and to make others to do it as well.
Such people include teachers in schools, doctors in hospitals, clerics, imams in Muslim mosques, businesspersons who are threatened that if their employees do not go to illegal "elections", they will get big problems with their business.
It is extremely important for the invaders to demonstrate to the whole world that the Crimean Tatars who boycotted the illegal "referendum" on March 16, 2014, have allegedly "realized" during these 4 years, how "just" is the position of the occupants in relation to people in the Crimea, and came to vote. Russians want to draw such a "picture."
At the same time, they, of course, would like to see people, who are more or less well-known in the Crimean-Tatar community, appear on polling stations so that they could then show them on TV both inside the Crimea and abroad.
I also want to note that on March 1 the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted a special appeal to the parliaments, governments, presidents of countries, as well as to international organizations.
In this statement, the Verkhovna Rada urges leaders of all countries to avoid visits to the Russian Federation during the period, when the person who will be illegally "elected" in the territory of the Crimea will be fulfilling presidential functions and also not to invite that person who will be "elected" as the president.
Although we all perfectly understand that there is no election in Russia and Putin will be the appointed president of Russia again.
– On January 24, the Charter-97 website was blocked. How do you assess the position of the Belarusian authorities in relation to human rights and media freedom?
– I want to begin with the fact that on December 19, 2017 a vote was taken at the UN General Assembly on the resolution on the situation of human rights in the temporarily occupied Crimea.
Only a handful of states took the side of Russia, an aggressor and occupier, in this matter, and Belarus was among that handful, since its UN representative supported the Russian Federation.
Thus, that representative of the state of Belarus stated that there were no problems with human rights on the territory of the occupied Crimea, that everything was "okay" there.
I remind that situation in order to say that a state that terrorizes its citizens, which has closed any opportunities for observing basic human rights, a regime that locks up people in prisons cannot support other states and societies.
But I want to emphasize that we in Ukraine, and especially the Crimean Tatars, are able to see distinction between the people and the ruler in any state. We feel a special sympathy for the Belarusian people. This particularly applies to the Crimean Tatars: we have a part of our soul in Belarus. A part of the Belarusian nation is the Tatars, who have lived there for centuries.
It was once a single community, a part of which settled in the territories of the GDL, and we know how the Tatars are respected by the Belarusian nation.
And so it is especially painful for us that in the 21st century, when countries unite on the basis of human rights and freedoms and try to develop their societies as much as possible, Belarus, by the will of Lukashenka and his satraps, continues to be a stain on the map of the planet.
But I want to emphasize that all of us, and first of all the Belarusian people themselves, will take out this stain easily, it will happen automatically when Putin’s regime outsmarts itself, when Russia changes. And that is why, all that the Charter-97 website does for the sake of the Belarusian people, and what we do in Ukraine – it all is aimed at ensuring that these regimes disappear.