by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Pavlo KLIMKIN
during the Roundtable 2: ‘Implementation of the rights
of indigenous peoples at the national and local level’
at the first World Conference on Indigenous Peoples’
(22 September 2014, New York)
Ladies and Gentleman,
Dear friends and colleagues,
At the outset let me thank all those who contributed to the preparation of today's Roundtable as well as to those who organized an outstanding event – the first World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.
What brought us here today is an issue of paramount importance.
Unfortunately, a period when indigenous peoples were defenseless in their rights is not a thing of the past.
With the Russian occupation of Crimea, we are back to the international reality of annexations, aggressions and open territorial claims.
And – as usually – minorities are the first to suffer.
The annexation turned the sunny and hospitable peninsula into a herd of tension, aggression and intolerance.
Many groups who just yesterday were a part of Crimea’s multicultural and friendly face – became the unwanted minorities.
Crimean Tatars being one of them. Today, Crimean Tatars, ethnical Ukrainians and other minorities on the Peninsula are objects of an open, unabashed discrimination.
Along with its troops, the Russian Federation brought to Crimea the ideology of hate and isolationism. People get punished for speaking different, looking different and thinking different.
Every day we receive new complaints on the violation of their political, language and cultural rights.
History has a black sense of humor. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the deportation of Crimean Tatars. Will the year 2014 mark a beginning of their new historic predicament?
The answer will depend on many things – including on the resilience of international community to Russia’s attempts to impose its reckless behavior as a new normal.
The occupation authorities recently denied the entrance to the Peninsula for the most prominent Crimean Tatars’ politicians, namely – MP of Ukraine Mustafa Dzhemilev and leader of the Crimean Tatar national movement in Ukraine and worldwide, chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People Refat Chubarov.
I am proud to announce that these two leaders of Crimean Tatars (with amazing personal history of fighting dictatorships) are participating in this Conference. Please, listen to their voice – as it is a voice of moral authority and personal courage against all historic odds.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Ukraine is striving to create the legal and institutional mechanisms to protect the rights of indigenous and other peoples living in Ukraine.
The Parliament of Ukraine adopted the Resolution concerning guarantees of the rights of the Crimean Tatar People within the Ukrainian State.
The Cabinet of Ministers established the Council of inter-ethnic harmony as well as the post of the Government Commissioner on ethnic policy.
Mustafa Dzhemilev was appointed as the representative of the President of Ukraine on Crimean Tatars’ issues.
In view of blatant infringements on the rights of indigenous people by Russia, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine adopted a Statement on support of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
It was circulated as an official document of the 68th session of the UN General Assembly under the agenda item “The Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”
You know about Ukraine’s fight for sovereignty and independence against the external aggressor.
Ukraine is paying a huge price to prevent the occupation (and oppression!) spreading to other parts of the country, of Europe.
Native Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars stood shoulder to shoulder together with other Ukrainian citizens from the very first days of the Revolution of Dignity.
When undeclared war in Donbas was ongoing, the representatives of the heroic Crimean Tatar people again, shoulder to shoulder, with all Ukraine combated same aggressor, who occupied Crimea earlier.
Crimean Tatar Reshat Ametov was one of the first victims of this war.
On March 3rd he went on a one-man protest in front of the occupied City Hall of Simferopol. The same day he was abducted by unknown people – in front of dozens witnesses and cameras. On March 15th his body was found by a roadside – tortured, badly mutilated, with a bullet in the eye.
This is the new reality of Crimea.
These are the new rules, that the aggressor is trying to force upon Crimean Tatars, Ukraine and – by and large – on the whole international community.
This unspeakable tragedy and the act of heroism reminds us, why all nations of the world (no matter how distant from Crimea) must give a thought to this barbaric force what is moving not only onto Ukraine, but also onto all of us.
It is not a moment to be silent and indifferent.
It is a moment to open our eyes at to look at things through the prism of Crimean Tatars – the people brutally torn away from their homes 70 years ago and re-living a historic nightmare right now, amid 21st century.
The United Nations, this respectable international body was founded just one year later after the Deportation – for the very reason of preventing tragedies like this.
Let us remind ourselves that the only way for this organization to live up to this role is to stand firmly by those suffering from aggressions, annexations and the ideology of hate. Today it is Crimean Tatars as a part of Ukraine. If the international community stands by passive – tomorrow it can be any other minority of this world.
I thank you.