The State Committee on Nationalities and Religions of Ukraine elaborated the Draft Law of Ukraine on the Concept of the State Ethnic-National Policy of Ukraine and prepared it for submission to the Supreme Council of Ukraine for adoption.
It is a notable fact that the project was elaborated without discussing of and taking into consideration opinions of representatives of indigenous peoples of Crimea whose territory is under the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian State. On 25 May 2010 this project will be discussed at so called «round-table» and only one representative of Karay community who is residing in Kiev was invited to participate.
The reasons become obvious after studying the text.
In the first part of the Concept titled «Terminology» there is no definition of a deported people and minorities deported on the ground of ethnic origin though according to the draft Concept it provides for some of their political and social rights. Only one people — Crimean Tatars — were deported from the territory under the jurisdiction of the modern Ukraine, as well as some representatives of another indigenous people — Crimean Karays, and representatives of a whole range of national minorities from Crimea. From other regions of Ukraine representatives of different nationalities were not deported on the ground of ethnic origin but on social-political grounds (kulaks, anti-Soviet beliefs, etc) as a part of general repressive policy of the former USSR.
We believe the Concept purposefully focuses on separate representatives. This is done with the aim to release the State of obligations and neccessity to restore their collective rights and to focus on adaptation and integration that, in fact, is assimilation of the deported people and national minorities.
In particular this concerns indigenous peoples as in the Concept there is a definition of «indigenous peoples» obviously not agreeing with the international legal standards.
According to the Concept «Indigenous peoples are a community of citizens formed historically and sharing common features of ethnic identity, language, culture, customs, practices tribal or semi-tribal living, is not or little integrated in general national society, that causes its lower social-economic level of development than that of the rest of the population; legally life of the community is fully or partially regulated by own customs and traditions. As a result of insufficient potential for preservation and protection of their ethnic identity such communities require specific legal regime of protection and support».
This definition can be compared to the official definition of the Internaitonal Labour Organization (ILO), of which Ukraine has been a member for many years, included in the Concention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples:
1. This Convention applies to:
(a) tribal peoples in independent countries whose social, cultural and economic conditions distinguish them from other sections of the national community, and whose status is regulated wholly or partially by their own customs or traditions or by special laws or regulations;
(b) peoples in independent countries who are regarded as indigenous on account of their descent from the populations which inhabited the country, or a geographical region to which the country belongs, at the time of conquest or colonisation or the establishment of present state boundaries and who, irrespective of their legal status, retain some or all of their own social, economic, cultural and political institutions.
2. Self-identification as indigenous or tribal shall be regarded as a fundamental criterion for determining the groups to which the provisions of this Convention apply.
As it becomes obvious, it is either complete ignorance of the elaborators of the Concept, or, which is most probable, attempt to make reservations to the international law and substitute it with the standards ensuring assimilation of indigenous peoples of Ukraine covered by the word «integration».
The Preambule of the ILO Convention 169 says the following: Having been convened at Geneva by the Governing Body of the International Labour Office, and having met in its 76th Session on 7 June 1989, and
Noting the international standards contained in the Indigenous and Tribal Populations Convention and Recommendation, 1957, and
Recalling the terms of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the many international instruments on the prevention of discrimination, and
Considering that the developments which have taken place in international law since 1957, as well as developments in the situation of indigenous and tribal peoples in all regions of the world, have made it appropriate to adopt new international standards on the subject with a view to removing the assimilationist orientation of the earlier standards, and
Recognising the aspirations of these peoples to exercise control over their own institutions, ways of life and economic development and to maintain and develop their identities, languages and religions, within the framework of the States in which they live, and
Noting that in many parts of the world these peoples are unable to enjoy their fundamental human rights to the same degree as the rest of the population of the States within which they live, and that their laws, values, customs and perspectives have often been eroded, and
Calling attention to the distinctive contributions of indigenous and tribal peoples to the cultural diversity and social and ecological harmony of humankind and to international co-operation and understanding, and
Noting that the following provisions have been framed with the co-operation of the United Nations, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation and the World Health Organisation, as well as of the Inter-American Indian Institute, at appropriate levels and in their respective fields, and that it is proposed to continue this co-operation in promoting and securing the application of these provisions, and
Having decided upon the adoption of certain proposals with regard to the partial revision of the Indigenous and Tribal Populations Convention, 1957 (No. 107), which is the fourth item on the agenda of the session, and
Having determined that these proposals shall take the form of an international Convention revising the Indigenous and Tribal Populations Convention, 1957;
Thus one of the leading international organizations openly states that assimilation and unificatoin of indigeonus and tribal peoples is incorrect, and due to this and in accordance with other international acts and organizations, including the United Nations Organization, of which Ukraine is a founding member-State, adopts already in 1989 a new Convention and gives a precise definition of indigenous peoples, and the Ukrainian State in 2010 is guided by abolished and non-acting standards of «cold war» era.
The Concept states that it in political-legal area aims at «elaboration and improvement of legislative basis aimed at regulating development of ethnic-national relations on the ground of implementation of the European and the international law, incorporation of positive international experience of increasing effectiveness of State management in ethnic-political area». At the same time the authors shamelessly state that when adopting the Concept they are guided by the Constitution of Ukraine, despite the fact that in some articles it establishes the responsibility of the State for ensuring the rights of indigeonus peoples, and by the Internaitonal Covenant of Civil and Political Rights on the basis of which the ILO Convention 169 and the definition «indigeonus peoples» were adopted.
Not accidentially one of the main proposals for improvement of the legislative basis for the State Ethnic-National Policy of Ukraine is, according to the authors of the Concept, «Introducing amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine with regards to the list of ethnic communities of Ukraine through exclusion of the term «indigenous people»».
Based on the proposed draft, instead of ensuring implementation of its own Constitution Ukrainian State is intended to open road to legal possibility of refusal of rights and full assimilation of indigenous peopels of Ukraine.
There is an attempt to place indigenous peoples under the definition of so called of ethnic group, that is «a community of citizens of Ukraine united by common ethnic identity, origin, language, culture, and traditions. It is different from a national minority by the fact that an ethnos to which an ethnic group belongs has not in the process of its ethnogenesis established its own state».
For the information of the authors of the Concept, ancestors of Crimean Tatars, Crimean Karays and Krymchaks in the process of their ethnogenesis created not one but at least dozens of state in the territory of Eastern Europe and Crimea. The last independent one of them, known as Crimean Khanate, existed for over three centuries, when the modern Urkaine has not yet celebraed its twentieth anniversary.
If the authors of the Concept seriously think that in the territory of the continental Ukraine there are no indigenous peopels, it is their right. The Concept says nothing about existence of Ukrainian in Ukraine as a state-forming nation. However in the territory of Crimea there were, are and will be indigenous peoples. At the moment they are Crimean Tatars, Crimean Karays and Krymchaks who have their inalienable rights ensured by the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples recently adopted by the UN General Assembly and by a range of other acts in the international law.
Adoption of the Concept of the State Ethnic-National Policy in Ukraine without taking into consideration the existence under it jurisdiction of the territory where indigenous peoples, including those that during certain historical periods had different forms of national statehood, live from time immemorial will mean that the Ukrainain State will voluntarily and one-sidedly acknowledge that Crimea is not a part of Ukraine and its jurisdiction over Crimea is a temporarily historical fortuity having no grounds neither in the history of the peninsula not the basis of the international law.
Honorary Head of the Board,
Crimean Republican Cultural-Educational
Organization of Krymchaks KRYMCHAKHLAR Yuriy Purim
Head, All-Ukrainian and Crimean Organization
of Crimean Karays KRYMKARAYLAR Vladimir Ormeli
Head, Council of Elders of Seyar Sofu
Crimean Tatar Elders
President, Foundation for Research and Support Nadir Bekirov
of Indigenous Peoples of Crimea
Head of the Presidium of the Coordination Council Hubedin Kurtbedinov
of Public-Political Movement of Crimean Tatar people
Head of the Coucil of Milli Firqa Vasvi Abduraimov