Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Tatar Leaders in Exile Appeal to West for Support in Ending Last Empire

Paul Goble
            Staunton, May 6 – Five Kazan Tatar leaders in exile are calling on the West to  live up to its past commitments to the right of nations to self-determination and help peoples like the Tatars who in Russia, the last empire, to defend themselves against Moscow’s efforts to wipe them out and to urge them to make the Captive Nations Week resolution international in scope.

            The leaders, Vil Mirzyanov in the US, prime minister of independent Tatarstan in  exile, Rafis Kashapov in Great Britain, deputy prime minister, Nafis Kashapov in Poland, a second deputy prime minister, Roza Kurban in Turkey and Kamil Sukayev in the US, have sent a letter to the leaders of the US, the UK, Germany, France, Canada, Turkey and Finland.

            The text of their open letter, portions of which are translated below, have been posted online by the Yenicag portal (yenicag.ru/lidery-tatarskogo-naroda-v-izgnanii-o/295396/). For background on the Idel-Ural movement both domestically and internationally, see windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/03/ever-more-active-idel-ural-movement.html.

            “Each of you,” the letter begins, “being the leader of your own state, know how much grief, tears and sufferings authoritarian regimes in China, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Zimbabwe and Russia have brought to peoples in the past and are bringing to them in the present.”

            “The totalitarian regime of Moscow” is of particular concern given that it is “the metropolitan center of the last colonial regime on our planet” and, because of its nuclear weapons, routinely ignores international agreements and commitments it has made to respect political freedoms and civil rights within its borders.

            That imperial approach is displayed “with particular force” in regard to “the enslaved peoples on the territories it controls.” Moscow continues to pursue an assimilationist policy intended “to create a faceless and subservient mass under the name Rossiyane,” setting up fake governments and forcing nations to establish their own organizations beyond its reach.

            “Putin’s Russia, making use of destructive legislation and all kinds of prohibitions is cruelly carrying out a policy of ethnocide.” It is supported in this by the Russian Orthodox Church which is little more than a handmaiden of the FSB and which seeks to create “’Russian Orthodox’ without faith, without history, without language and without a unique culture.”

            “For us in the 21st century the most horrible thing is to observe the disappearance of peoples. On the territory of the present-day Russian Federation, 13 peoples have already disappeared from the ethnographic map of Russia and several dozen more are at the edge of disappearance.”

            During the first decade of his rule, Vladimir Putin shut down in Tatarstan alone, 690 Tatar schools. Then, his regime stopped issuing data on this, but in 2017, Tatar activists concluded that he had shuttered about 1500 more in the years since that time. In other actions, he has eliminated 2500 slots for Tatar-language instructors.

            Moreover, in recent years, “more than 250 Tatar newspapers and journals” have stopped operation; and even though Tatarstan send more than 700 billion rubles (11 billion US dollars) to Moscow each year, it gets back only 180 billion (3 billion US dollars). And because the Kazann Tatars are the second largest nation in Russia, Moscow uses them to fight its wars.

            On March 21, 2018, the Free Idel-Ural Social Movement was established in Kyiv. It unites and seeks real sovereignty for Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Chuvashia, Udmurtia, Mari El and the Ezryano-Moskshania (Mordvinia). These Turkic and Finno-Ugric peoples number some 12 million in all.

            “The platform of the Free Idel-Ural Social Organization must in the future become the foundation of a confederation of the same name, a state which will independently decide both economic questions and tasks of foreign policy and defense,” the appeal continues; and then it declares:

            “We are appealing to you, as leaders of influential, civilized and democratic countries” to follow the US Captive Nations Week law adopted on July 17, 1959, and proclaimed by every US president since that time and to “initiative analogous laws in your own countries.”

            “To this day, this law remains a vitally important document for the peoples of Idel-Ural, Siberia, and the Caucasus. International recognition of this document undoubtedly will be a factor that will restrain the aggressive policy of the Kremlin and a factor of the defense of the rights of enslaved peoples from the arbitrariness of colonial administration.”

            “Support of the world community will allow these peoples to stand on an independent path of development and define by themselves their own fate,” the appeal concludes, urging the leaders not to be frightened by talk about how horrific the coming apart of the Russian Empire would be.

            “Liberation from a colonial path is always a path to progress and the final result of this will make a serious contribution to the development of democracy, peace, stability and all-human values.”

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