The U.N. Rights Office is calling for the protection of rights of minorities in Crimea on the 72nd anniversary of Stalin’s mass deportation of Tatars from their homeland. The UN is also calling on Russia to lift the ban on the Mejilis.
The forcible deportation of the Crimean Tatars from their homeland was ordered by Joseph Stalin in 1944 as a form of collective punishment for allegedly collaborating with the Nazis. Soviet authorities organized the deportation which is also known as Sürgünlik in Crimean Tatar language.
More than 230,000 people were deported, mostly to the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic. This included the entire ethnic Crimean Tatar population, at the time about a fifth of the total population of the Crimean Peninsula, as well as smaller numbers of ethnic Greeks and Bulgarians. A large number of deportees (more than 100,000 according to a 1960s survey by Crimean Tatar activists) died from starvation or disease as a direct result of deportation. It is considered to be a case of ethnic cleansing. For a long time Crimean Tatars and Soviet dissidents called for recognition of the genocide of Crimean Tatars.
Only in 1989, more than 30 years after Stalin’s death the USSR recognized the mass deportation as a crime against humanity of the highest degree. On November 12, 2015, Ukraine’s Parliament adopted a resolution recognizing the event as genocide and declared 18 May as a Day of Remembrance for the victims of Crimean Tatar genocide.