in person

Mustafa Dzhemilev: We are being trapped

16.05.2014 | By Rustem Khalilov

The leader of Crimean Tatars told KW about ways of protection of the rights of his people and not losing human dignity

KW: Mustafa Agha, what is happening today in the Crimean Tatar national movement?

M.D.: Unfortunately, there is no hard resistance to the occupation regime. Now there is an attempt to somehow protect our rights in such a difficult situation for the people. Apparently, resistance is likely to come later.

KW: What is the attitude of the Crimean Tatars to Ukrainian authorities today?

M.D.: We had claims to Ukrainian authorities, we always mentioned them. But this does not mean that we will justify the annexation of the territory in favor of another state the state which deported our people and subjected them to genocide. Perhaps, now we have the most democratic government in the whole history of Ukraines independence, and after the presidential elections, we believe, it will be even better.

Unfortunately, Ukraine had no systematic policy in respect of Crimea. Just look, there were 14,000 Ukrainian servicemen, the vast majority of them came from the chauvinistic Crimea. At the first appearance of Russians they raised Russian flags. Was it so hard to predict that?

The Russians came and the SBU, the Prosecutors Office and the police saluted and became Russian citizens. Imagine if there were Crimean Tatars. But they were deliberately not allowed to those bodies! Up to now, there are virtually no Crimean Tatars in the SBU. And in the police their number is approximately by ten times lower than there could have been in proportion to their population. So we have the results. Alpha (a special unit for the SBU Ed.) was located 20 kilometers from Simferopol and could neutralize the terrorists, which seized the Crimean Rada and the Council of Ministers on February 27, within a few hours. But first of all, there was no such order, and secondly, they have mostly been trained to fight Crimean Tatars. And no one could even imagine that the older brother would attack us, although we have always been talking about it. That is the reality.

KW: For many years you have sought the adoption of the law on redress of the right of the deported...

M.D.: It has already been passed. The Rada adopted the resolution, which clearly states that Crimean Tatars are indigenous people of the peninsula. Instructions were given for Ukraine to join the 2007 UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples. In short, the prospects for recovery of our rights in Ukraine are very impressive. But if we became citizens of Russia and Crimea became part of Russia, in the future event talking about the status of Crimea would be prohibited, because it would fall under the Law on Separatism. Which means, we fall into the trap.

Maybe at present to solve some social problems, it is necessary to negotiate with them (the RussiansEd.), and, perhaps, even temporarily get their passports, but the danger is much greater. Becoming citizens of Russia, we will be powerless. And then, even though the state of democracy in Ukraine leaves much to be desired, but in comparison to Russia, Ukraine is simply like Paris.

KW: You were not present at the last session of the Qurultay. What would be your reaction to cooperation with the Crimean government?

M.D.: First of all, I would make a harsh statement on the occupation and inadmissibility of the occupation regime for the Crimean Tatar people. Secondly, I would not send people to take part in such illegal government. I believe it is unethical to sit at the same table with bandits.

If one does not agree to have a Russian passport, does not become a Russian citizen, they become foreigners on their own land. It is easy for Russia to pursue such a policy, when they are able to divide our nation. Just imagine: 300,000 Crimean Tatars do not accept it. So how can they see us on own land as foreigners? Many people just do not understand the power of consolidation.

Of course, there will always be some scum who echoes any regime, but they will never make any difference. Even Putin, no matter what he says about the Mejlis and its former chairman in the press, in current situation quickly realized the power of opinion of the indigenous people. And I did not ask for his audience. He asked me to talk to him. It is important for him that the Crimean Tatar people, the indigenous people spoke in favor of annexation to Russia. This would give him such an important trump card! It would say: look, even the indigenous people want me.

Even in those years when we were fighting for homecoming, there were some people who adhered to moral principles, while others stuck to purely everyday needs. It always has been so. Such is life.

KW: Does the national movement become vulnerable because business owners play an increasingly important role in the Qurultay?

M.D.: We do not have that many business owners among us, I would not say they make any difference. It is about pragmatism. Short-run pragmatism. The steps that are taken sending people into power they are planned for a few months, maybe a year. And in the long-term prospect it will cause damages to the national interests. I think this is due to lack of political experience of the members of the Mejlis. Although members of the Mejlis in this regard have split up. 10 or 12 members of the Mejlis were planning to walkout in protest. I asked them not to do that and solve the problems through compromise.

KW: If Russia agrees to introduce to the Crimean Constitution a 20% quota of Crimean Tatars in public authorities and restoration of toponymy, which concessions would Crimean Tatars accept in their turn?

M.D.: At all accounts we would disavow our declaration of the illegality of the occupation and the need to respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine. In the end of the day, it is the opinion of the whole world community. I believe, that such benefits are temporary, because Russia has never complied with its agreements . But if did introduce to the Constitution those provisions which they declared in the decree, there would be less irritation among Crimean Tatars from Russian presence. It would be in Russias interests, too. But they were not smart enough to do that.

KW: When will the next session of the Qurultay take place?

M.D.: I would not hurry to convene the Qurultay. In connection with the situation many people have different points of view. This is normal, but it is very important that the different points of view do not lead to a split among our people. Therefore, now it is important to look for some compromising way acceptable for everyone: to defend our rights and at the same time not to lose our national dignity. If we find such happy medium, perhaps, the Qurultay will convene with such suggestions. Saying no cooperation with the invaders is easy in Kyiv. When we say there is no need to do so, we must suggest the proper ways to do something. If we offer some steps and we know that there will be retaliatory measures, we shall develop a mechanism to protect ourselves against them. The situation is extremely complicated, and it is impossible to give any recipe quickly.

KW: How do you see your future in Ukrainian politics?

M.D.: What is the future for a 70-year-old person? The main task would be to leave some political elite, to help them rise to their feet. If I have enough energy to do something, then I would do it.

KW: Over the recent years have you made political mistakes that you regret?

M.D.: When I see a mistake I try to correct it immediately. But in strategic terms there were no errors, and I hope that there will be no mistakes in future. As to the fact that some business owners, tending to be overly pragmatic, try to imposed the point that we need to raise Russian flags as soon as possible I would say, it is very short-sighted. It will result in troubles and sorrows for our people.

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