Centenary of Crimean Tatar Qurultay (Assembly)

Crimean Tatar Leader Mustafa Dzemilev with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ukrainian Ambassador to Canada H.E. Andriy Shevchenko, and MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj in the lobby of the Chamber of the House of Commons on May 18, 2016.

Ottawa – On Monday, December 11, Etobicoke Centre MP and Chair of the Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Friendship Group Borys Wrzesnewskyj delivered a statement on the floor of Canada’s House of Commons commemorating the hundredth anniversary of the Crimean Tatar Qurultay.

Wrzesnewskyj’s House of Commons statement read:

Mr. Speaker, in December 1917, 100 years ago, the Crimean Tatars proclaimed their Democratic Republic and launched their national assembly, the Qurultay.

The Bolsheviks abolished this state and in 1944 Stalin attempted ethnocide through the mass deportation of Crimean Tatars into Central Asia. Almost half perished during the deportation, however, starting in 1989 Crimean Tatars began returning home, and under independent Ukraine were provided citizenship and a formal right of return.

Sadly, history seems to be repeating itself. With Russia’s 2014 military invasion and illegal occupation, the Crimean Tatars are once again facing disappearances, the murder of leaders, exile, and collective repression and persecution.

As we commemorate the centenary of the Crimean Tatar Qurultay, let us reaffirm that Crimean Tatars are the indigenous people of Crimea and that Crimea is Ukraine.

Wrzesnewskyj has frequently spoken out against Russian state-sponsored human rights abuses directed against the Crimean Tatars and has hosted meetings in Ottawa and his riding with their legendary leader Mustafa Dzhemilev who spent 18 brutal long years in Soviet gulags for demanding the right of return for his people.