On July 7, 2015, the first Crimean-Tatar film Haytarma (Return) was screened for the first time in Washington, D.C. The film is based on a true dramatic story of the forcible deportation of the Crimean Tatar people from their native land – the Crimean peninsula – by Stalin’s regime on May 18, 1944.
Winner of several international awards, Haytarma (Return) has special relevance against the backdrop of the Russian occupation of Crimea, blatant systematic violations of rights and freedoms of Ukraine’s citizens – especially the Crimean Tatars – by the occupation power and pressure on independent media on the occupied territory. The Crimean Tatar independent television station, ATR, which produced the film in 2012, has since been shut down in Crimea by the Russian authorities. ATR resumed its broadcasting from Kyiv hoping to be back to the Crimean peninsula after the end of Russian occupation.
The screening in Washington, D.C., was organized by the Embassy of Ukraine in the USA with the support of the National Democratic Institute (NDI). It was preceded by remarks from Yaroslav Brisiuk, Chargé d’Affairs of the Embassy of Ukraine in the USA, Laura Jewett, NDI’s regional director for Eurasia, and Irena Lasota, president of the Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe, which works with Crimean Tatar organizations. The event was concluded by Q&A session.
Yaroslav Brisiuck noted in his remarks that 75 years ago, on July 23 the Welles Declaration was issued. The USA condemned USSR’s intervention into domestic concerns of neighboring democratic states and claimed Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania’s annexation to be unacceptable and illegal. Y.Brisiuck expressed a hope that similar declaration might be issued by the USA regarding Russia’s occupation and aggression against Ukraine.