‘We all are Crimean Tatars’: Ukrainians unite to mark key anniversary

Author : 112 International

21:44, 18 May 2016

‘We all are Crimean Tatars’: Ukrainians unite to mark key anniversary

Author : 112 International

The indigenous people of Crimea continue to experience persecution in the 21st century

21:44, 18 May 2016

On May 18, Ukraine marks 72th anniversary of the deportation of Crimean Tatars by the Soviet government. The problems of the Crimean Tatar population have received the second round after the Crimea occupation by Russia. And the song of Ukrainian winner Jamala at the recent Eurovision Song Contest 2016, “1944”, told the world about the grief of her compatriots both in 1944 and 2014, and received a warm response.

“Modern European people are not indifferent, and are ready to hear about the pain of other people and are ready to sympathise,” – the Guardian newspaper quotes Ukrainian singer Jamala before the contest.

Let's learn more about the tragedy of the Crimean Tatars

Tatars are the indigenous people of Crimea, their settlements appeared on the peninsula in 13th century. In the early 18th century, there were an absolute majority of Crimean Tatars on the peninsula - 444 thousand, and two decades later, Crimean Tatars were the second largest population after the Slavs of the peninsula (in 1926 - 25.1% of the total population).

Ukraine’s Cabinet commemorates victims of 1944 deportation of Crimean Tatars

In 1922 the Soviet government officially recognized Crimean Tatars as the indigenous population of the Crimean Autonomous Republic. They were allowed to develop their culture: newspapers, magazines were issued in their language, educational institutions, museums, libraries and theaters used the native language too. Crimean Tatar language, along with the Russian was the official language of autonomy.

In 1944, the Crimean Tatar people were accused of treason and collaboration with Nazi occupiers. The deportation began at dawn on May 18, 1944. The employees of the NKVD (People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs) came to the Tatar houses and announced that they are being evicted from Crimea.

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They had to quickly pack up and go. Officially, each family had the right to take up to 500 kg of luggage, but actually allowed to take much less, and sometimes - nothing at all. 70 trains overflowing with people were sent to the east. Many children and elderly people were deceased during the relocation. All the assets remaining after the Tatars in Crimea, the state arrogated to itself. 238 500 people were deported from Crimea.

Turchynov: 72 years after deportation of Crimean Tatars, the history repeats itself

Newcomers were cheap labor in a foreign land, they used to work in the collectivefarms and industrial plants. Children of migrants weren’t able get education in Crimean Tatar language. The Soviet authority destroyed the Tatar monuments, closed cinemas, libraries and mosques. The informal ban on the return of Tatars to Crimea was in force until 1989. Return to the indigenous population of Crimea was difficult and was accompanied by land conflicts with local residents, but 250 thousand people came back to the peninsula.

A new challenge for the Crimean Tatars started after Russia's annexation of Crimea in March 2014. Some of them left the peninsula because of persecution, others suffering from raids, trials and detentions. Some received a ban to the entry to Crimea, including the leaders of the Crimean Tatars Mustafa Dzhemilev and Refat Chubarov.

The struggle of the Tatar people for their land and their rights continues to this day.

Related: Ukraine’s Jamala reflects on historic Eurovision win

Related: UN calls on Russia to respect Crimean Tatar rights on 72nd deportation anniversary

Related: Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry published video to commemorate victims of 1944 deportation of Crimean Tatars

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