Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Crimean Tatars Seek Form of Autonomy

  • Bakhchisaray was the seat of Crimean Tatar rule until Russia seized the region in the late 18th century. (Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
    Bakhchisaray was the seat of Crimean Tatar rule until Russia seized the region in the late 18th century. (Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

The Kurultay (congress) of the Crimean Tatars has begun meeting in emergency session. Delegates are considering a draft resolution on realising the Crimean Tatars’ right to self-determination on their historical territory in Crimea.

“In passing this document, we will be announcing to all sides that we are beginning the political and legal procedures for creating national territorial autonomy for the Crimean Tatar people in their historical territory in Crimea,” the head of the Mejlis (Tatar elected body), Refat Chubarov, said. “This decision is founded on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of September 13, 2007, which sets out the rights of indigenous peoples to self-determination (Article 3), autonomy and self-government (Article 4), and to participate, if they so choose, in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the state where they live (Article 5).”

Chubarov also pointed out that under Article 30, military operations cannot be conducted on the territories of indigenous peoples without their requesting or consenting to this.

“We underline that Crimea is indubitably the historical territory where the Crimean Tatar ethnos with its own national state formed,” Chubarov continued. “Our position is that Crimea’s status is currently being altered without consent or free expression of will by the Crimean Tatars, the indigenous people of Crimea.

“We reaffirm our aspiration to consolidate and further develop the relationship between Crimean Tatars and all the ethnic communities living in Crimea.”

On this occasion, the Kurultay is meeting in Bakhchisaray, although it usually gathers in Simferopo. Channel 5 TV reports that the assembly was shifted out of fears that pro-Russia forces might stage acts of provocation.

Rustam Temirgaliev, deputy prime minister of the Crimean separatist government, is attending the gathering.

It was announced earlier that there was just one item on the agenda, to discuss the situation in Crimea and seek solutions to how the Crimean Tatars are to live in the annexed territory from now on.

“It is likely the delegates will announce a referendum on Crimea’s status. That is what [veteran Crimean Tatar leader] Mustafa Jemilev said in Brussels, at least,” the report says.

In the March 16 “referendum” held by the self-proclaimed authorities in Crimea, turnout was put at over 80 per cent with 97 per cent voting to join the Russian Federation. Jemilev later stated that contrary to the result that had been declared, only 34 per cent of Crimean residents had taken part. The Crimean Tatars did not recognise the referendum and did not take part.

A week after the referendum, Mustafa Jemilev said he was not being allowed to enter Crimea. 

This article republished from Ukrainska Pravda with kind permission.

Original article in Ukrainian/Russian.