The Crimean Tatar Resource Center
The hot summer wind is whirling up the dust on the unpaved roads, grapes and pears are hanging heavy from the trees; no place on earth could look more peaceful than the Arabat Spit in August. Yet out there, on the Sea of Azov, Russian naval vessels are patrolling, and the border crossing into Russian-occupied Crimea is few minutes away by car.
In a modest motel, run with love and care by family of Crimean Tatars, a group of young people from different parts of Ukraine is sitting together, talking. The group is participating in the third Liberty Camp, organized by the Crimean Tatar Resource Center in co-operation with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom and the Estonian Institute for Human Rights. Many participants have been personally affected by the occupation; have had to leave Crimea; have relatives in Russian prisons. Others belong to the Crimean Tatar minority in Turkey; some are young Ukrainian or international human rights activists.
The topic of conversation is the situation in occupied Crimea: the military buildup on the peninsula, the targeted settlement of Russian nationals, the massive housing projects it involves, the incessant subpoenas and house searches targeting Crimean Tatars and Ukrainian activists, the fear, the growing list of political prisoners. The conversation is part of a wider context, however: the fight for universal human rights. The young activists are developing fundamental human rights knowledge. They study the freedom fighters and resistance movements of the last century – the US civil rights movement, the Estonian independence drive, the Anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa. They discuss how tactics of civil disobedience and citizens' activism can be transferred between locales. They analyze the structures that support the occupation of Crimea and possible angles of attack for public action and campaigns.
In practical workshops, they devise creative and artistic ideas for #LiberateCrimea, the international campaign of solidarity. On the 27th anniversary of Ukrainian independence, they use a few spare hours for a special performance: they march up to the border, carrying Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar flags, wish the Ukraine a happy birthday, and demand the liberation of the occupied peninsula. The hour the Liberty Camp ends, they know, is the hour their real work begins.