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The Real Story about How Crimea's Indigenous Peoples are Affected by the Ukrainian Conflict

By Tai Pei

The US is not the only country that manipulates the information released by the press. Many, many countries do it. Take for example, Ukraine and Russia, countries that deny Indigenous Peoples' rights, and do not even like to use the term "Indigenous Peoples," rather "national minorities", and are doing what they can to destroy Indigenous languages, even if on paper it sounds like they protect them, and since we all know, we live in a society where what's on paper is what "counts." These countries who have their eye on Crimea all of a sudden remember the Crimean Tatars, (the largest group of Indigenous Peoples in the Ukraine), and in their news casts are now saying how the Crimean Tatars will pick up arms to defend them. (Ukraine says that, the other side, Russia, is also using this arguement, well knowing that Crimea has a 60 percent Russian population.)

Crimean Tatars are not siding with either side, for they have endured much at the hands of both, including being massacred. International law addresses Free, Prior, Informed Consent. If an action is going to impact an Indigneous Peoples,  it have their Free, Prior, Informed Consent, period, there is no way around it!

Our brothers and sisters in many places of the world have had to endure "extinction myths", the non-recognition of Indigenous Peoples by their governments, and the many speeches by politicians and academics who love to create fear speaking about divisions of peoples if they allow for "these others" to claim and exercise their inherent right to self-determination.  In reality, as much as some will like to mock it, self-determination is a fundamental, basic human right according to international law.

As an advocate of Indigenous, human, and environmental Rights, I am compelled to inform you what our brothers and sisters are living in Crimea. My brothers and sisters who as I, advocate for these same rights at the United Nations and other international platforms, are in a place of much instability with opposing forces who only place Indigenous Peoples at great risk.

By letting the world know that Crimean Indigenous Peoples are not siding with either side, we may help our brothers and sisters. Please share this information widely.

--Tai Pelli is a Taíno woman who advocates for Indigenous, human and environmental rights, the eradication of the Taíno myth of extinction as well as other social issues such as domestic violence, child sexual abuse and substance addiction. She runs a blog Tai Pelli.