November 13 marks the birthday of Mustafa Dzhemilev. The well-known leader of Crimean Tatars turned 75 on Tuesday.
Dzhemilev was born on 13 November 1943 in Ay-Serez, Crimea, at the time under Nazi German occupation. He was only six months old when his family, with the rest of the Crimean Tatar population, was deported by Soviet authorities in May 1944, soon after Soviet forces retook the peninsula. He grew up in exile, in the Uzbek SSR. In May 1989, he was elected to head the newly founded Crimean Tatar National Movement. The same year he returned to Crimea with his family, a move that would be followed by the eventual return of 250,000 Tatars to their homeland.
The Soviet regime considered Dzhemilev a dangerous enemy. Between 1966 and 1986, Dzhemilev was arrested six times for anti-Soviet activities and served time in Soviet prisons and labor camps and lived under surveillance. Dzhemilev is also remembered for going on the longest hunger strike in the history of human rights movements. The hunger strike lasted for 303 days, but the activist survived due to forced feeding.
In the 2014 Ukrainian parliamentary election, Dzhemilev who had previously served as the MP was re-elected into parliament after being in the top 10 of the electoral list of Petro Poroshenko's Bloc. The famous human rights defender, the former chairman of Mejlis of Crimean Tatars and currently the MP of Ukrainian Parliament, Dzhemilev is well known for fierce support of his people in the Russian-occupied Crimea. He and other leaders of the Crimean Tatar people strongly condemned the illegitimate 'referendum' in the Russian-annexed Crimea in March 2014, demanding that Russia leave the peninsula.