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Crimean Tatars Demonstrate in Bakhchisaray

On May 7, a large group of Bakhchisaray residents met in front of the Municipality Building to protest the increasing repression and discrimination against Crimean Tatars. Holding banners, Ukrainian flags, and Crimean Tatar flags with the national emblem (tamga), they demanded representation of Crimean Tatars in the Crimean Parliament and state offices. They blamed the deteriorating condition of Crimean Tatars on the continuing communist rule in Crimea and the lack of concern for the indigenous population on the part of the Ukrainian President and Parliament. The group then marched through the streets of Bakhchisaray to the Palace of the Khans (Han Saray), shouting "Crimea, our Homeland," "No to Communism," "Allah is great," and "Crimea! Homeland! Mejlis!" After a short meeting in the courtyard of the Palace of the Khans, they declared their intention to meet again on the 16th of May and begin the march on Simferopol. The protest meeting was organized by the local Mejlis (Assembly) in Bakhchisaray.

The following is the text of the Resolution passed by meeting participants:

Resolution of the Crimean Tatar Protest Meeting

Bakhchisaray, Crimea
7 May 1999

We, the Crimean Tatars, residing in the Bakhchisaray region, have gathered here to declare that our civic and political rights have so far not been restored. The restoration of the rights of Crimean Tatars, indigenous people of Crimea, is a necessary condition for safeguarding the integrity, preservation, and development of our nation in Ukraine. It has been ten years since we began to return and resettle in our homeland, but our position in Crimean society remains extremely powerless and humble. All the appeals of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People sent to the President, Parliament, and Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine have been ignored. After the Crimean Tatars were deprived of representation in the Crimean Parliament, they [the Russian majority] adopted a new Constitution of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. This is leading to ethnic dictatorship of the post-war settlers in our motherland, and the discrimination against our people has become even more pronounced. They are trying to restore the criminal communist regime in Crimea. We, Bakhchisaray residents, are appealing to the President, the Government, and the Verhovna Rada of Ukraine with the following demands:

I. NATION-WIDE

  1. To restore the Crimean Tatar national autonomy in Crimea within the independent democratic Ukraine
  2. To adopt a special legislation "On the status of the Crimean Tatar people in Ukraine"
  3. To recognize legally the status of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People as the only highest plenipotentiary body of the Crimean Tatars
  4. To establish the Muslim holidays, Ramadan Bayram and Kurban Bayram, as state holidays in Crimea
  5. To restore the historical place names of Crimea, which were changed after the deportation of Crimean Tatars

II. REGIONAL

  1. To establish an effective representation of Crimean Tatars in the executive and legislative branches of government
  2. To stop discrimination against Crimean Tatars in professional positions within the government and to provide guaranteed representation of Crimean Tatars in legislative and executive branches
  3. When preparing state, district, and local budgets, to include a line item for the program for return and resettlement of Crimean Tatars
  4. To stop the obstacles to the establishment and development of national education [for Crimean Tatars]
  5. To allocate plots from the reserve state lands to establish agricultural businesses
  6. To return, according to the legislation of Ukraine, the religious buildings to appropriate religious organizations.

Meeting participants
(about 1,000 people)