69th Anniversary of Crimean Tatar deportation commemorated
Source : Agencies | 18 May 2013
May 18th marks 69th anniversary of the the mass deportation of Crimean Tatars under the regime of Joseph Stalin. This tragic event continues to influence the lives of the Tatars who have managed to return to their homeland, and even politics of Ukraine.
Due to hunger, thirst and disease, around 45% of the total population died during the process of deportation.
The resettlement of Crimean Tatars began in 1967, but they soon found out that their return was not welcomed.
Prior to the deportation, Crimean Tatars primarily resided in the southern resort areas and in urban centers, but because of the high demand on the resort areas of the Crimea, the Crimean Tatars were forced to settle mainly in the steppe regions.
A massive influx of Crimean Tatars from Uzbekistan has led to an overcrowding of limited housing and greater pressure on formerly Tatar lands that are now occupied by other groups.
In 2006, only 90% of Tatar settlements had electricity, 70% water, and 25% paved roads. Also, ethnic Russians in Crimea have consistently raised concerns about the returning Crimean Tatars, objecting to privileges such as special access to housing or quotas for political representation.
One sad result has been violence between the two groups.
In the last five years up to 1,500 deportees have annually come back to Ukraine, guided by The Bishkek Agreement on the restoration of the rights of deported people and national minorities signed in 1992. The document simplified their return, but this year the document is in danger of not being prolonged due to the country’s poor economic condition.
The UNPO has expressed its condolences to Crimean Tatars Mejlis, wishing them strength and wisdom in developing their autonomy.
The Crimean Tatars are a Turkic ethnic group whose historical homeland is the Crimean peninsula between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. The official Crimean Khanate was established in 1441. Crimea fell under Russian dominion in the late 18th century. After the Russian Revolution in 1917, the Czarist regime ruling the Crimea was succeeded by Soviet Socialist rule.
But the hardships peaked in 1944, when Stalin deported the entire Crimean Tatar population from Crimea to the Urals, Siberia and to Uzbekistan in Central Asia. The deportation began on 18 May 1944 More than 32,000 NKVD troops participated in this action.
The forced deportees were given only 30 minutes to gather personal belongings, after which they were loaded onto cattle trains and moved out of Crimea.
193,865 Crimean Tatars were deported, most of them to Kazakh and Uzbek SSR-s. At the same time, most of the Crimean Tatar men who were fighting in the ranks of the Red Army were demobilized and sent into forced labor camps in Siberia and in the Ural mountain region.
Victims of Crimean Tatars deportation commemorated
Crimean Tatar youth commemorating the victims of the deportation of the Crimean Tatar nation climbed the Çatır Dağ Mountain according to tradition on May 11.
The Majlis of Crimean Tatar nation, World Congress of the Crimean Tatars, Federation of national wrestling kureş, public and youth organizations organized this event.
About 300 people participated in the event. There was mostly the youth aged 18-25, however, there were unusual participants: the youngest participant Seyran was 3 and the oldest İlâs Calil was 90. It would be noted that it was the second climb of İlâs-qartbaba (grandfather in Crimean Tatar – ed.) within the framework of this action.
Thus, the Crimean Tatar youth hoisted the Crimean Tatar national flag at the top of the mountain and conducted the public prayer to commemorate victims who lost their lives during the 1944 Deportation of the Crimean Tatars. They also performed the Crimean Tatar national anthem.
As organizers stressed, the date of 11 May was not chosen accidentally: the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin signed the decree on the Deportation of the Crimean Tatar nation this day 69 years ago.
The Climb of the Çatır Dağ is a traditional of the Crimean youth that is conducted annually. Representatives of the young generation gather from all corners of Crimea to pay homage to victims of the 1944 Deportation.
Meeting at Ukrainian embassy in Ankara
The embassy of Ukraine in Ankara held a roundtable meeting with leaders of Crimean Tatar civil society organizations in Turkey on Friday to mark the anniversary of the ethnic group's deportation to Central Asia at the hands of the Soviet Union in 1944.
During the meeting in the embassy building, Sergiy Korsunsky, the Ukrainian ambassador to Turkey, expressed his regret to the Tatar civil society leaders for the deportation of Crimean Tatars leading to large numbers of deaths among the ethnic community.
Representatives from associations of the Crimean Tatar diaspora based in several provinces, including Tekirdağ, Bursa, Eskişehir and Ankara, were present at the meeting.
During the meeting, Korsunsky emphasized the importance of Turkish investments toward the development of the Crimean Autonomous Region, which is linked to Ukraine.
The cultural and educational ties established between Turkey and the Crimean peninsula were also emphasized during the meeting. Crimean Tatar students receiving their education in Turkey also expressed the importance of ensuring equal standings between Turkish and Crimean universities.
The civil society representatives also expressed the wishes of Crimean Tatars for more qualified education in their native language. A proposal to commemorate May 18, the anniversary of the tragic deportation in Ukraine, was also raised during the meeting.
The Prime Ministry's Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (TİKA) is conducting a number of projects in the Crimean peninsula and in other parts of Ukraine to assist the Turkish population living there.
The projects include building mosques and pre-school and secondary schools in the region, as well as building 1,000-capacity dormitories for the Crimean Engineering and Pedagogical University. All the projects are being conducted within the scope of bilateral economic agreements between Turkey and the Ukrainian central administration.
In 1944, Soviet leader Josef Stalin accused Crimean Tatars of collaborating with Germany's Nazis and ordered some 200,000 of them to be deported to Central Asia.