Posts Tagged ‘Europe’

Pope’s Philly trip could be a turning point on US marriage front

Rome, Italy, Nov 26, 2014 / 05:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Legal expert Alan Sears said that the push for marriage redefinition in the U.S. has provided a platform for the issue at large and that Pope Francis’ visit in 2015 could mark a shift in the contentious debate.

“This could be a turning point in the struggle for marriage,” he told CNA Nov. 26. “The Holy Father has the opportunity to speak in the USA, to step into the middle of this with the message of love, with a message of hope to clarify and help people to understand the beauty of God’s design.”

Sears serves as president of the international legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, which specializes in the protection of religious liberty worldwide. He was recently in Rome for the Nov. 17-19 colloquium on the complementarity of man and woman in marriage that was attended by Pope Francis.

Also referred to as the “Humanum” conference, the gathering was sponsored by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in collaboration with the Pontifical Council for the Family, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity.

The meeting came amid the ongoing push for the legalization of same-sex “marriage” in the U.S. – a contentious issue that’s has left many Catholics divided. Sears believes many people today are deeply confused about the true nature of marriage and unaware of the security it provides to both individual families and society at large.

Pope Francis’ to Philadelphia for next year’s World Meeting of Families could likely be just as impactful as that of St. John Paul II on the pro-life movement when he came to Denver, Colo. in 1993 for World Youth Day, he said.

“One of the most incredible speeches was that which (John Paul) gave on the culture of life,” Sears recalled. It “was a turning-point moment” for the many in the pro-life movement whose work had largely been “pushed to the way-side” by secular press and those advocating abortion. Through his speech St. John Paul II sparked a new dimension of pro-life work that was founded on God’s plan for humanity and the joy that life brings, he reflected.

And what we are seeing now is an “incredible turn of public opinion,” so much so that “the pro-life movement is not too far away from a tipping point for victory.”

In this context, the visit of Pope Francis – at a time when the debate on marriage is so fierce – could be the opportunity those fighting for traditional marriage have been waiting for, Sears observed.

He explained that right now many U.S. courts “have chosen to redefine marriage through extra constitutional means, and assert that things which were always considered to be consistent with the constitution are unconstitutional, and many people just don’t understand this.”

He said that placing emphasis on the beauty of marriage during the papal trip could be a key step in helping society to understand the enormous benefits, love and protection growing up in a family with both a mother and a father provides to children.

“People try to cover and say the only reason this is so bad with this attempted redefining and claiming something else as marriage is because of society’s discrimination. That’s not so,” Sears said.

“The ideal best – every study, experience shows and culture has shown for thousands of years – is a mother and a father committed to each other for life.”

Sears recalled a video that was shown during the marriage colloquium in which a man currently involved in a homosexual relationship in France gave his testimony about wanting to adopt children with his partner.

After initially talking about their mutual desire to have children, the couple began to research about parenting and raising children.

They eventually the couple decided that they shouldn’t have children since “it would be an act of selfishness for us because we recognize we would be creating a situation of permanent motherless-ness that would be unnecessary for children.”

Sears said Pope Francis has an opportunity during his visit to suggest concrete efforts people can make to both uphold and celebrate marriage, such as renewing wedding vows.

The beauty of marriage “is one of the great confusions because people don’t understand the joy marriage between a man and a woman brings that all other substitutes do not provide,” he said

Sears noted how throughout his world travels, one thing he has constantly encountered in each place in the thousands of people he meets is a lack of knowledge and formation on Church teaching and scripture as it relates to marriage.

So even “a simple sermon going back to the basics (of marriage), like John Paul’s simple sermon going back to the basics of life” would be greatly effective coming from the Pope, he said.

Alan Holdren contributed to this report.

The plight of Christians in Turkey, ahead of Pope Francis’ visit

Istanbul, Turkey, Nov 26, 2014 / 04:43 pm (Aid to the Church in Need).- Since the beginning of the Iraq war in 2003, and especially since the eruption of the Syrian civil war in 2011, Turkey has become the destination—or passage way—for hun…

The Pope sides with the Gospel, not political ideologies

Aboard the papal plane, Nov 26, 2014 / 12:08 am (CNA).- Pope Francis has said he aims to express the social doctrine of the Church, not the views of partisan political philosophies, suggesting it is reductionistic to say otherwise.

“I don’t know if the Pope is Social Democratic or not,” he told a French reporter during an in-flight conference Tuesday, who had mentioned the ideology popular among socialists in Europe.

“I don’t dare qualify myself on one side or another.”

His comments came in response to a French reporter who asked if the Pope’s words before the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France Nov. 25 “could be heard as political words” which “could be compared to a Social-Democratic sentiment.”

The reporter apparently referred to comments about the dangers of multi-national interests weakening the power of democratic nations for the sake of economic uniformity.

“Can we say that you might be a Social-Democratic Pope?” the reporter asked.

“This is a reductionism!” the Pope replied, joking that the question’s labeling “makes me feel like I’m part of an insect collection: ‘This one is a social-democratic insect’.”

The Pope said he does not identify with any one side or label on such matters, pointing instead to “the message that comes from the Gospel, from which the social doctrine of the Church has been taken.”

“In this concretely, and in other social or political things that I expressed, I have not detached myself from the social doctrine of the Church, no? And, the social doctrine of the Church comes from the Gospel and of the Christian tradition.”

Pope Francis thanked he reporter for the question, saying “you made me laugh.”

Be brothers and sisters for peace, Pope tells Europe

Strasbourg, France, Nov 25, 2014 / 05:05 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis said Tuesday that brotherhood and a spirit of mutual service are needed to overcome conflict, telling the Council of Europe that both the continent and Christianity have special…

The challenge of human rights recognition in Europe

Strasbourg, France, Nov 25, 2014 / 03:31 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- While Pope Francis was applauded at the European Parliament on Tuesday at his mention of children “killed even before being born” as among the victims of a “throwaway” culture, the European Court for Human Rights has said regulating the treatment of infants born-alive after late-term abortion is outside its competence.

According to the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 10 percent of children survive abortion attempts.

“Every year, children are born alive at the time of the abortion procedure after the 20th week of pregnancy in Europe. They are, most often, abandoned to die without care, struggling to breathe, sometimes for several hours, or they are killed by lethal injection or suffocation, then thrown away with organic waste,” Gregor Puppinck, director of the European Center for Law and Justice, told CNA Nov. 24.

Together with the International Catholic Child Bureau, the World Union of Catholic Women Organizations, and the Federation of Catholic Family Associations, the ECLJ has asked for a meeting with the Council of Europe’s High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The purpose was to present to the high commissioner a document exposing the fate of children born alive after abortion.

“To leave some of them to die without treatment, or killing them, simply because they are not wanted, is inhuman,” stressed Puppinck.

Last July, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, which gathers the governments of the 47 member states, failed to reach an agreement on measures to be taken in order “to guarantee that foetuses who survive abortions are not deprived from the medical treatment that they are entitled to – as human persons born alive – according to the European Convention on Human Rights.”
Puppinck underscored that “some governments, by fear of questioning late abortions, refused to recognize publicly that these newborns have rights.”

“The following request for a meeting with the High Commissioner for Human Rights has been refused, since the High Commissioner held that his mandate did not cover those questions.”

“This position is contradicted by the fact that the very same High Commissioner, on Jan. 15, took a public position against sex-selective abortion, asking for it’s criminal prohibition,” Puppinck claimed.

Failing to hold a meeting with the Council of Europe’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, the NGOs have launched a petition to bring the question in front of the Strasbourg Parliament Assembly.

“This is just one of the issues at stake within the European Union,” said Puppinck.

The lawyer underscored that “there is a split for what concerns the notion of freedom. The individualistic notion of freedom forbids, in fact, any other kind of expression, and also puts into question the autonomy of the others.”

This split may be found in two cases recently brought to the European Union: Sindicatul ‘Pastoral cel bun’ v Romania, and Fernandez Martinez v Spain.

The first case is about a labor union formed in 2008 by the clergy of an Orthodox diocese in Romania to defend their “professional, economic, social and cultural interests” in their dealings with the Romanian Orthodox Church.

When the Romanian government registered the union, the Church sued, pointing out that her canons do not allow for unions and arguing that registration violated the principle of church autonomy.

A Romanian court agreed with the Church, and the union challenged the court’s judgement in the European Court for Human Rights. The union argued that the decision not to register it violated Article 11 of the European Convention, which grants a right to freedom of association. In 2012, the chamber reasoned that, under Article 11, a State may limit freedom of association only if it shows “a pressing social need,” defined in terms of a “threat to a democratic society,” and this did not happen in Romania.

So the chamber faulted the Romanian court, and Romania appealed to the Grand Chambre – the last judicial appeal venue in European legislation.

The second case is that of Fernandez Martinez, a Spanish instructor of religion.

In Spain, public schools offer classes in Catholicism, taught by instructors approved by the local bishop. Fernandez Martinez did not get his bishop’s approval. A laicized priest, Fernandez Martinez took a public stand against mandatory priestly celibacy. When the school dismissed the instructor, he brought suit under the European Convention: his dismissal – he argued – violated his right to privacy, family life, and expression.

A section of the European Court ruled against him, because in withdrawing approval – the section stated – the bishop had acted “in accordance with the principle of religious autonomy”.

“This religious autonomy is put always more into question in Europe,” said Puppinck.

And he also stressed that “the fact the first case was with an Orthodox Church is meaningful. I may say that Orthodox and Catholics should always more work together, even in political field, to defend their freedom and foster their mutual commitment for the common good.”

Will Pope Francis’ words foster a new pact for Europe?

Brussels, Belgium, Nov 24, 2014 / 05:09 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- With elections for European Parliament having taken place in May, an auxiliary bishop of Brussels hopes that Pope Francis’ Nov. 25 visit to the body will impact the new members of parliament.

Pope Francis will travel to Strasbourg on Tuesday, there addressing the local seat of European Parliament and the Council of Europe.

The European Parliament includes members of parliament from the 28 states of the European Union, while the Council of Europe is the organization for the defence of human rights in Europe, and has 47 members.

Bishop Jean Kockerols, Auxiliary Bishop of Malines-Brussels, recounted to CNA on Nov. 21 the commitment of the Church in Brussels to evangelize the European Parliament.

“The Church of Brussels is very close to European Union, there are exchanges, contacts … we try to welcome these officials, and this is the reason why Mass is celebrated in 23 different languages in Brussels, since the first thing to do is building bridges of trust with these people.”

The bishop underscored that “we should do more,” especially to foster the commitment of these officials in the parishes.

The European Union “has lived a great evolution,” he said, noting its expansion from six to 28 member states.

Bishop Kockerols’ hope lies in “Pope Francis’ ability to have an impact” on the European Parliament, since “many of the members of parliament are new, and they should know that they have the right and the power to give things a direction.”

The Church, he said, is “trying to build a strong network of officials and members of parliament, because it is important that they discover the social teaching of the Church.”

He also stressed the importance of having criteria for European policies which are “more oriented to the human person.”

Father Patrick Daly, general secretary of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community, said Pope Francis’ visit is significant for highlighting Europe’s social, economic, and political family.

He described the commission as a “watchdog on the evolution of European institutions,” and this is why “Pope Francis’ visit is quite important for our work … it shows that the Pope appreciates the European project, and he deems it important for all citizens.”

“This is a papal affirmation of great importance. The Pope acknowledge that the (European) Parliament, gathered in Strasbourg for a plenary assembly, determines in some ways the future profile of our social, economic, and political family.”

Fr. Daly recounted that the bishops of the commission are above all “worried about the situation of young people, who cannot find a job, and, if they do work, they cannot build a family life.”

All of these new families are living in a highly secularized Europe.

“On the other hand, we should not forget that though our world is more secularized than 50 years ago … I think that the search for authentic values is still at the heart of the European project.”

Human dignity at risk in Europe, advocates warn before Pope’s speech

Strasbourg, France, Nov 24, 2014 / 11:27 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Ahead of Pope Francis’ Nov. 25 address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, pro-life leaders are emphasizing the danger of a mentality that fails to respect life across th…

Will Pope Francis’ visit to Europe’s parliament bolster family issues?

Brussels, Belgium, Nov 22, 2014 / 06:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Awaiting the Pope’s visit to Strasbourg next week, an official of the Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe says she hopes Francis will insist on family issues, as they are crucial to fulfilling Europe’s dream of peace.

“If you want peace, then defend the family,” Maria Hildingsson, secretary general of federation which works for political representation of family interests from a Catholic perspective, told CNA Nov. 20.

Founded in 1997, FAFCE works with both the European Union and the Council of Europe, and is the only independent organization clearly registered in the EU as Catholic; it represents organizations from 15 nations.

Pope Francis will travel to Strasbourg Nov. 25, there addressing the local seat of European Parliament and the Council of Europe.

The European Parliament includes members of parliament from the 28 states of the European Union, while the Council of Europe is the organization for the defence of human rights in Europe, and has 47 members.

Based on her experience of years of advocacy in the two international bodies, Hildingsson has found a split between them.

“The split is about issues of human sexuality. The EU is very active in promoting the ‘gender’ ideaology agenda, without finding much resistance; while in the Council of Europe the EU states find a lot of resistence on these issue by countries outside the EU, especially the eastern countries which have introduced laws to counter propaganda on homosexuality,” Hildingsson said.

She lamented that “the family is almost forgotten among the official issues of the European Union. The Euro 2020 strategy is about work – and we know you cannot raise a family without economic support – but it is not based on a family perspective, it is rather about improving the competiveness of European countries. The family is thus put aside.”

Hildingsson explained that in fact “the vast majority of European children live with a father and a mother,” but on the other hand “this sense of economic sense of insecurity puts at risk the capacity to establish stable relationships.”

FAFCE has been working to affect public opinion in Europe by organizing conferences, petitions, and campaigns. On the occasion of the European elections, it launched a manifesto in order to identify politicians with family friendly policies, and it also led a campaign to decry the ‘Estrela report’.

Drafted by the Portuguese member of parliament Edite Estrela, the report put reproductive health on a par with human rights. Though it was non-binding, it could have paved the way to push this agenda on all the countries of European Union.

The report did was not approved, with the EU ruling that sexual issues must be discussed at a national level. It is believed that this decision was due in part to the international campaign led by FAFCE involving several citizen and family assocations.

This is why Hildingsson stresses it is “important that in his speech Pope Francis insist on subsidiarity, of the respect of the heritage and culture of each country.”

And then, she suggested, “the Pope could emphasize that if you want to build peace, you cannot manage it without the family. We must respect the profound anthropological difference of man and woman. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in the original French version, speaks about a family composed by one woman and one man.”Will Pope Francis’ visit to Europe’s parliament bolster family issues?

US cardinal to the undocumented: you can ‘come out of the shadows’

Rome, Italy, Nov 21, 2014 / 10:15 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The vice president of the U.S. bishops’ conference has said that charitable immigration reform must address the needs of both legal and illegal immigrants, encouraging the latter to come forward and receive help.

“Immigration (reform) should be more comprehensive, that is, we cover all immigrants, even the undocumented. We give people a chance to get their green card, a chance to come out of the shadows, so that when they work the money they get for themselves helps the culture too,” Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo told CNA on Nov. 19.

“From my point of view, it’s important that immigrants come out of the shadows, particularly the undocumented ones. In my mind it’s one of the most important things we could do.”    

Present in Rome for a Nov. 17-21 congress on the Pastoral Care for Migrants, Cardinal DiNardo, who is Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, Texas, offered his comments just one day before U.S. President Barack Obama revealed a major immigration reform package, issued by executive order.

In what is seen as a highly-contentious move, the president announced that he would stay the deportation of certain undocumented immigrant parents for up to three years, allowing them to work legally. Eligibility requirements include having lived in the U.S. for at least five years, having children who are U.S. citizens or legal residents, passing a criminal background check and agreeing to pay taxes.

Roughly 4 million people will likely qualify for this measure, while thousands of others will benefit from other changes. The president extended benefits of temporary residence to more children of undocumented immigrants, expanding the eligibility for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and extending their temporary stay from two to three years.

In addition, the president said he would increase border security resources and deport those who had illegally crossed the border recently. He said he would focus government enforcement resources on criminals and those who threaten security.

The executive order will mark the biggest change in immigration policy in three decades.

In his televised address, President Obama echoed Cardinal DiNardo’s sentiments in telling immigrants to “Come out of the shadows and get right with the law.”

The president insisted that his proposals did not amount to amnesty or straight-shot path to citizenship, although it will offer Social Security cards to those who qualify for the deferred deportation.

“What I’m describing is accountability – a common-sense, middle ground approach,” the president said.

“Mass amnesty would be unfair,” he stated. “Mass deportation would be both impossible and contrary to our character.”

Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio Elizondo of Seattle, chair of the U.S. bishops’ migration committee, issued a Nov. 20 statement welcoming the announcement of deferred deportations, saying that the United States has “a long history of welcoming and aiding the poor, the outcast, the immigrant and the disadvantaged.”

Each day in the Church’s social service projects, hospitals, schools and parishes, the devastating consequences of the separation of families due to the deportation of parents or spouses can be seen, he said.

The bishop noted that the episcopal conference had asked the Obama administration to “do everything within its legitimate authority to bring relief and justice to our immigrant brothers and sisters,” adding that as pastors, “we welcome any efforts within these limits that protect individuals and protect and reunite families and vulnerable children.”

He urged President Obama and members of Congress to work together in pursuing permanent reforms to the U.S. immigration system that seek the best interests of both the nation and the persons who migrate to the country in search of refuge.

“We will continue to work with both parties to enact legislation that welcomes and protects immigrants and promotes a just and fair immigration policy,” the bishop said.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, issued a Nov. 20 statement, saying, “There is an urgent pastoral need for a more humane view of immigrants and a legal process that respects each person’s dignity, protects human rights, and upholds the rule of law.”

“As our Holy Father, Pope Francis, said so eloquently: ‘Every human being is a child of God! He or she bears the image of Christ! We ourselves need to see, and then to enable others to see, that migrants and refugees do not only represent a problem to be solved, but are brothers and sisters to be welcomed, respected, and loved,’” the archbishop said.

On the topic of improving the pastoral care of immigrants, Cardinal DiNardo explained that the Church already offers a lot of help. However, he said that a legal reform would help “lighten-up” the Church’s burden and allow greater focus on pastoral assistance.

“The Church always emphasizes the human person, so when we talk about the human person, we don’t ask if you’re an immigrant or whether you were born in the country,” the cardinal observed.

“You are a human person that has aptitudes, has a singularity, has an excellence and a dignity that we want to draw on,” he said, stressing that this vision is important to keep in mind when welcoming immigrants and helping them integrate into society.


The life of minorities in Ukraine, one year after protests began

Kyiv, Ukraine, Nov 21, 2014 / 04:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- One year ago, Mustafa Nayyem, a Ukrainian journalist born in Afghanistan,  began Euromaidan from his post on Facebook: “Let us be serious. Who is ready to come to The Independence Square today before midnight? Likes are not considered, only the comment, ‘I am ready’.”

This year, Nayyem changed his journalistic career to become a member of the Ukrainian parliament. However, not only has his life changed this year, but all Ukraine has become different.  

Euromaidan, the protest movement centered on Maidan (as Kyiv’s Independence Square is known) led to a change of government in Ukraine in February. Tens of thousands participated in the protests, and around 100 people died. Since then, Russia has annexed Crimea from Ukraine, and more than 4,300 have died in fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists in the country’s east.

The protests began the evening of Nov. 21, 2013, as people gathered at Maidan objecting to the government’s announcement that it would not sign a major economic partnership agreement with the European Union, in favor of a $15 billion bailout agreement with Russia.

Serhiy Nigoyan, a Ukrainian of Armenian descent, was the first victim of the protests:  he died Jan. 22 on Hrushevskoho Street in Kyiv, just after the first stage of escalation.

“He was Ukrainian. My wife and I are left without anything. We had just one son. My wife still cries every day. One year after, nobody has told us who is actually are responsible for his death. We think we will never discover it. We just desire that he and other young people will stay in the memory of the people. After all, they are heroes,” Garik Nigoyan, Serhiy’s father, told CNA.

Serhiy’s death showed that Euromaidan was not only a protest of ‘Ukrainian nationalists’ – in addition to the Armenian-Ukrainian, Michael Zhyznevskyy, a Belarusian activist, died at Maidan Jan. 22.

Religious minorities were also joined together at the Maidan protests. While Jews and Muslims each constitute less than one percent of Ukraine’s population, both religious groups were alongside the country’s majority Christians at Maidan.

“I know that at Maidan it was the case that in one corner of a tent a young girl prayed in the Jewish tradition, and in the other a Muslim prayed with his ceremony. I don’t know if it would be possible otherwise, but for them it was absolutely natural,” the Jewish-born Ukrainian artist Oleksandr  Roitburd told CNA.

“There were people from the right and the left, conservatives and liberals, anti-Semites and Jews, but they did not come to Maidan to fight against each other, but to protest against  the government.”

“I don’t think that after Maidan there is less corruption – it is a process,” Roitburd said. “Even economic life is more difficult than before. Yet this is no longer perceived us as a humiliation, but we keep thinking hopefully. People began to appreciate the personal space of freedom.”

Russians, too, have found a place in Ukraine since the protests began a year ago.

Andrew Teslenko, who lived most of his life in Barnaul, Russia, 2,600 miles east of Kyiv, received refugee status in Ukraine this week, together with his wife.

“In Russia the police opened the criminal case against me, because of my support for Maidan – I had made just a few posts on Vkontacte,” a Russian social network. “This spring they accused me in ‘inciting inter-ethnic conflict’ and ‘calling for extremism.’ The maximum term of imprisonment is five years. They searched our flat, and removed all our computers. That night, my wife and I decided: we can’t stay there anymore, and needed to run.”

While their refugee status gives them the opportunity to legally work in Ukraine, it does not make it any easier for the Teslenkos to integrate into their new home. Nevertheless, Andrew says, “it is easier to breathe here.”

“Of course, I realize that Ukraine, as a country which was at war for a long while, cannot become successful in a short time. My wife and I want to help develop this country in the field of migration and integration of foreigners, as we ourselves passed this way.”

Christians, too, are forming new ties in Ukraine since Euromaidan.

On Nov. 13, representatives of five different Orthodox Churches in the country signed the “Rivne Memorandum,” which Archbishop Thomas Gullickson, apostolic nuncio to Ukraine, said in his Nov. 16 blogpost, “denounces inter-religious violence, calls for an end to Russian aggression in Ukraine, and formulates the wish that there should be one Orthodox Church for Ukraine.”

Two bishops  of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church which is backed by the Moscow patriarchate were among the signatories, but they later withdrew from the memo, saying they had signed “under duress.”

In Crimea, by contrast, minorities have not always fared well under the changes of the past year.

Following the change of government in Ukraine, the country’s southern peninsula was annexed by Moscow on March 18.

In Russian-administered Crimea, Tatars, the indigenous group who are nearly all Muslim and who constitute 15 percent of the population, are facing particular persecution.

On Nov. 12, arson was attempted on the mosque in the village of Sonyachna Doluna. On Oct. 6 an activist, Eden Asanov, was found dead in Yevpatoria; she had been disappeared Sept. 29.

The Tatars say that the disappearing of young activists in Crimea is common, but no one takes responsibility for these actions.

On Sept. 16, the Majilis, the Tatars’ representative office was searched for 16 hours, and the group’s leader, Mustafa Dzhemilyev, was exiled from Crimea for five years by the Russian administration.

Refat Chubarow, the head of the Majlis and who is also exiled from Crimea, told CNA: “One day this conflict should finish. I believe it will. Than we need to help Russia somehow to be our good neighbor.”

Alim Aliyev, co-founder of the volunteer  organization Crimea SOS, added that “in Crimea there is a real danger to the life of each person who has a ‘different’ opinion. Anyone who thinks the annexation of Crimea is Russia’s aggression, not a natural process, is considered an extremist. After the kidnapping, killing, and intimidation of activists, the Russian government wants Crimean Tatars to become humble citizens of the Russian Federation, or that we should leave Crimea ourselves, because of the circumstances they created. This is our land – it was too hard to return there, to leave it so easily.”

Of the 300,000 Tatars who call Crimea home, since Moscow annexed the peninsula on March 18, 8,000 have already emigrated.

“The Crimean Tatars traditionally are the most pro-Ukrainian population, because we have assimilated the most with Ukraine. With Ukrainians we are connected by common senses of life – we know what it means to defend the right to freedom; Russian don’t have this experience,” a 26-year old Tatar told CNA.

“The Crimean Tatars still clearly remember Stalin’s deportation, which for us is very painful. We don’t want back in the Soviet Union.”

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