Sunday, November 2, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Volga Tatar Activist Organizing Pan-Turkic Movement in Ankara

Paul Goble
            Staunton, November 2 – Rafis Kashapov, a leader of the All-Tatar Social Center (VTOTs), has moved to Ankara where he is working to organize a pan-Turkic movement to attract attention to the plight of the hard-pressed Turkic nations within the borders of the Russian Federation and to gain support for them from other Turkic peoples.
             In a post on the VTOTs portal yesterday, Kashapov cited with approval Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s statement a half century ago that Turkey and the Turkic peoples of the world “must be prepared” for “union” with Turkic groups then under the rule of the communists and the Soviets (
             As Kashapov points out, there are more than 300 million people who are part of the Turkic world: the Turks, the Tatars, the Azerbaijanis, the Kazakhs, the Crimean Tatars, the Chuvash, the Kygyz, the Bashkirs, the Uzbeks, the Turkmens, the Tuvins, the Khakas, the Karachays, the Balkars, the Kumyks, the Nogays and the Karaims.
             Among these peoples are many who are living under the oppression of non-Turkic states, including the 40 million Uyghurs in China and approximately 20 million members of Turkic-speaking nations within the borders of the Russian Federation.
            The latter have “a significant Turkic component” in their languages and cultures,” Kashapov says, and this means that “we Turkic peoples have the right to establish movements for the coordination of the activities of the Turkic peoples in Russia.” That is especially true because the situation of the Turks of Russia is so bad.
            As evidence of that, Kashapov says that “in recent years in Russia have been closed more than 2,000 Tatar schools and gymnasia, all Turkic academic institutions were closed earlier” and that is despite the fact that the Tatars are the second largest nationality in the Russian Federation after the Russians.
             “About the rights of other Turkic and Finno-Ugric peoples,” he suggests, it is better not to speak because they are being mistreated even more severely.
             After thanking the presidents of Turkey, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan for their support of the Turkic world, Kashapov appeals to them to “defend the rights of the Turkic peoples in Russia” as well. To that end, he says, he seeks to establish ties with Turkic social-political organizations.
             In addition, the VTOTs leader says, he is planning to establish “an organized group of Tatar activists who are living in Turkey, to meet with Turkic officials, and to promote better coverage of the Turkic peoples in the Russian Federation by Turkey’s mass media.

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