Sorrows of the Sürgünlik
Today in the magazine: Ambassador Callista Gingrich writes of the tragic plight of the Crimean Tatars. 🇫🇷 Plus: The #FrenchElectionTwitterSummit
We were surprised and pleased when Ambassador Callista Gingrich proposed to write an article for us about the plight of the Crimean Tatars and the Sürgünlik. Like the words “Holocaust” and “Holodomor,” the word “Sürgünlik” denotes one of the unspeakable crimes of the twentieth century. Even though it is one of the century’s clearest cases of genocide, it is also poorly known and little studied.
The suffering of the Crimean Tatars—first, persecution and deportations under Stalin; now, the reprisal of that terrible trauma—is unending. Since the occupation of Crimea, it has been the Crimean Tatars who have suffered the brunt of Russia’s repression, with waves of arrest and imprisonment. Crimean Tatars make up the vast majority of Russia’s political prisoners. To understand the outrage this represents, imaging a reconstituted Nazi Germany invading Israel as the world looks on and insists that Israel has always been German.
The irony of a common Russian calumny against Crimean Tatars—that they are terrorists and extremists—is that they are pacifists. Westerners rarely associate Islamic movements with pacifism, but the Crimean Tatars are notably committed to nonviolence.
Mustafa Dzhemilev—known as Qırımoğlu, or “Son of Crimea”—has led the National Movement of Crimean Tatars since 1989. When he was only six months old, he became one of the nearly 200,000 ethnic Crimean Tatars exiled by Stalin to central Asia in 1944. He is, as the Georgetown University Journal of International Affairs put it, “one of the most remarkable and least known heroes of Islamic nonviolence.”
As the catalyst behind the Crimean Tatar National Movement, Dzhemilev has remained committed to the principle of absolute nonviolence. He has endured arrests, imprisonments, and exiles and has resisted his adversaries through hunger strikes, boycotts, demonstrations, international publicity, and tireless political campaigning.
Dzhemilev is perhaps best known for having gone on the longest hunger strike in the history of human rights movements. It lasted for 303 days. (He survived due to forced feeding.) He’s been nominated several times for the Nobel Peace Prize.
In 2014, Akhtem Chiygoz, Deputy Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatars, was sentenced to eight years in prison for “organizing mass riots.” As his lawyer said,
The Crimean Tatars are the symbol of resistance in Crimea, of the struggle for freedom. At the same time, they don’t enter into active contact with the Russian enforcement bodies and don’t take up arms. Of course, that makes the Kremlin very nervous … It would be so much simpler (for the Kremlin) if they used violence. It’s the peaceful, non-violent protest that’s stumped the Kremlin, forcing it to seek measures to intimidate the Crimean Tatars, force them into submission. (In Russian.)
As for the charge of “organizing mass riots,”
Curiously, some of the activists are being prosecuted for taking part in demonstrations [against the outcome of the phony 2014 referendum] that took place even before the disputed referendum. For Valeriya Lutkovska, Commissioner of the Ukrainian Parliament on Human Rights, this is “legal surrealism.” Perhaps the best known case is that of Akhtem Ciygoz, the deputy chairman of the Mejlis, who was arrested and tried for taking part in a demonstration that took place on February 26, 2014, i.e. three weeks before the referendum and two days before the pro-Russian separatists came to power. Prominent Russian journalist Oleg Kashin notes that this situation started by “playing with time and space,” something not that infrequent in contemporary Russia.
While Russians are told by the Kremlin that the Crimean Tatars are violent extremists, Putin meanwhile “liberates” Mariupol with the assistance of a mob of Chechen jihadis:
A true Christian renaissance, no?
Nonetheless, there are many people in the West who remain determined to believe that Putin is Europe’s vanguard against jihadists—so many that there’s a non-zero chance Marine Le Pen will be elected president of France tomorrow. The odds of this aren't high, but they are not zero, as they would be in any sane polity. Le Pen, Salvini, Orbàn and their kind drivel on endlessly about the “Muslim invasion of Europe”—even as they’re in bed with Putin, who has literally ordered this. It is maddening to contemplate.
As it happens, many of the European “observers” of the phony referendum in 2014 were outright neo-Nazis. They were financed by Russia’s Eurasian Observatory for Democracy and Elections, which is headed by Luc Michel and Jean-Pierre Vandersmissen, who are both supporters of the neo-Nazi Jean-François Thiriart and members of the far-right Parti Communautaire National-Européen (PCN-NCP). The list of observers included representatives of the far-right parties Jobbik (Hungary); Ataka (Bulgaria); Vlaams Belang (Belgium); and the Freedom Party (Austria). There were also members of neo-Stalinist far-left parties, including Germany’s Die Linke.
So much for denazification.
🇫🇷 The French Election Twitter Summit
Election silence has descended in France. By law, the presidential candidates may no longer hold rallies. TV and radio airwaves are forbidden to discuss the campaign. No new polls may be published until 8:00 pm tomorrow, when the winner will be announced.
But the French Election Twitter Summit crew is still in the game. We’ll be holding one last conclave today at 5:00 pm Paris time. Here’s your time zone converter. The discussion, as usual, will be in English.
➡➡🇫🇷HERE’S THE LINK TO JOIN🇫🇷
For preparation, Anne-Elisabeth Moutet’s latest:
Every day, politicians from Nicolas Sarkozy to the Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the closest France has to Jeremy Corbyn, hammer voters that backing Le Pen is unacceptable. Academics, liberal journalists, and various personalities sign long letters in Le Monde to denounce her.
Even a former British Europe minister, Denis MacShane, circulates bullet points explaining in French why Marine’s apparently toned-down platform will drag France out of the EU, ruin the country and do Putin’s work. None of these arguments is false, but the hysterical tone is counterproductive. There’s a widening French constituency that will vote for her precisely because she works the great and the good into such fury.
It is still likely that Emmanuel Macron will win on Sunday. The French, after all, are extraordinarily risk-averse. But certain? Non.
And Arun Kapil’s:
… all but one of the polls taken over the past week show Emmanuel Macron widening his lead over Marine Le Pen. E.g. the Ipsos poll released today shows Macron leading by 15 points, with decisive numbers of first round Mélenchon and Pécresse voters moving to Macron to block MLP. Mme Le Pen could still win, of course—and the latest Odoxa poll shows a close race—but barring a dramatic shift over the next two days, it would be a shocker at this point.
… As predicted, MLP was indeed better prepared [for her debate with Emmanuel Macron] time, having done her homework—under the supervision of a secretive group of hard right-leaning énarques and other high-level types—and memorized statistics. And, as expected, she remained generally calm and collected throughout. No trash-talking or vituperative attacks as in 2017. But while she tried her best to sound wonkish—which is taken seriously in France; even ordinary folk given over to populism want the leader of the nation to at least give the impression of being smart—no one can out-argue the Inspecteur de finance Emmanuel Macron when it comes to policy wonkishness—even if he sometimes has to fake it himself (and which does happen). So in the exchanges on the cost of living (the nº 1 issue for the French public), pension reform, the health care system (which is in a bad state), the competitiveness of the French economy, the environment, and other issues involving spending money, Macron inevitably got the better of Le Pen, and particularly in highlighting the contradictions, incoherency, inanity, and pie-in-the-sky character of so many of her proposals. She was, in short, out of her depth.
Some highlights from the debate for Francophones:
The presidential debate revealed a new side to Macron, writes John Lichfield.
The Macron v Le Pen TV debate last night was a strange affair. It was gripping and dramatic but also irritating and sometimes crushingly dull.
As a piece of theater, the night was badly constructed because the greatest moment of drama came at the beginning. While answering a question on the Ukraine war, Macron launched into a full-frontal attack on Le Pen’s links to Moscow and Vladimir Putin. Her party had taken out and not yet fully repaid a nine million euro loan from a Russian bank, he said. That made her a “dependent” of the Russian state. “When you talk about Russia you are talking to your banker, Madame Le Pen. That’s the problem.”
Macron nails Le Pen on Putin, writes Arthur Goldhammer:
Security and immigration were the themes on which the differences between the candidates were most glaring. “I will be the president of le régalien,” Le Pen announced in her opening statement, using the term, redolent of monarchy, that the French reserve for the functions of national security and law enforcement. Gilles Bouleau, the elder of the two moderators, asked both candidates if they could “guarantee” that at the end of their five years in office there would be less violence, less crime, and less insecurity in France. Le Pen gave her unsurprising answer (yes), which Macron promptly deflated by retorting to the moderator, “Asked as you have asked it, it’s impossible to answer no to your question.” He went on to supply facts and figures about what he had already done to improve the security of the French (such as hiring 10,000 more police, increasing the budget of the courts, and beefing up protection against cyberattacks), while Le Pen insisted that the country had sunk into “barbarity and savagery” and was plagued with “anarchic and massive immigration.” She promised to rearm the police “morally,” by which she apparently meant that nothing law enforcement did to suppress “barbarity and savagery” would be subject to criticism, much less prosecution. She would ensure that sentencing was swift and certain and build more prisons to hold the expected hordes of barbarians. …
… The world could look very different at 8 p.m. this Sunday when the results are announced. For a brief moment France will once again hold the attention of the entire world, not because it will have regained the grandeur of which General de Gaulle once dreamed but because it will have avoided sinking into bassesse—or not.
Election debate marks normalization of far-right politics in France, writes Jon Henley:
Twenty years ago to the day, on 21 April 2002, Jean-Marie Le Pen advanced to the second round of the presidential elections in a political earthquake. The eventual winner, Jacques Chirac, refused point blank to debate “intolerance and hatred”.
France’s 2022 presidential debate marked the full normalization of the party now led by his daughter, and of its policies—the culmination of a 15-year push on her part to detoxify the Front National, soften its jackbooted image, and transform it into a “normal” party. …
Why France will be divided no matter who wins. (Podcast.)
An Ipsos-Le Monde poll published on Wednesday morning showed that an overwhelming majority of respondents (79 percent) believe that major social unrest will occur during the next five-year term, regardless of who enters the Élysée Palace. Most of them are also convinced that the situation in France will worsen (57 percent if Ms. Le Pen becomes president; 48 percent if President Macron is re-elected). Expect the victory speech on Sunday night, whoever the winner will be, to be much more sober than usual.
Le Pen calls on the “people of France” to stand up against Macron’s “contempt.”
Mellowed tone one day, raging the next. Marine Le Pen put on a different face in Arras on Thursday, April 21, twenty-four hours after her televised debate against Emmanuel Macron. In front of 3,000 supporters gathered for a final rally, she delivered the most aggressive speech of her presidential campaign, in a populist, accusatory, and threatening tone. With anger in her voice, the far-right candidate got to the heart of the matter by addressing her own performance indirectly and criticizing “the attitude of the candidate president.” “We saw a nonchalant, condescending, and arrogant Emmanuel Macron without self-imposed limits. A president should not behave like this. But are we really surprised?” she began, drawing whistles in response. …
… The member of parliament for Pas-de-Calais presented herself as “the only alternative to the system.” “In the face of this cold oligarchy that confiscates power, in the face of the self-appointed, arrogant and self-righteous elite,” she raged, “we are the voice and soul of the silent majority, too kindly silent!”
If you missed it yesterday, I wrote about the political significance of these imprecations.
Macron’s Big Pimpin’ photo has given rise to parodies the world around ..
Here’s something one may now do in Paris …
And here’s three steps to pronouncing the “r” in French.
See you at the summit!