Ukraine Commemorates Anniversary of Deportation of Crimean Tatars
In Nov. 2015, the Verkhovna Rada recognized the deportation in 1944 as genocide
Photo from Ukrinform–UATV
Seventy-four years ago today, on the orders of the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, hundreds of thousands of Tatars were deported from the Crimean peninsula to various regions of the Soviet Union.
On the morning of May 18, 1944, in Crimea, agents of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs, also known as the NKVD, broke into the homes of Tatar families. The Tatars were given 15 minutes to gather their belongings and evacuate their homes. Then, they were forcefully loaded onto trucks and brought to the nearest railway stations.
They were deported because Stalin accused them of collaborating with Nazi Germany.
Of the 200 thousand deported, 20 to 46 percent died within the first few years. It is difficult to establish the exact numbers, as documents of the NKVD are still classified in the Moscow archives.
In the last years of World War II, the Soviet government deported a number of people of different nationalities under arbitrary accusations of treason. Not only Crimeans were deported under Stalin’s forced population transfers, but people from the Caucasus, Baltics, and other Turkic peoples as well.
Despite arrests, fabricated criminal cases, dismissals, and isolation, the national movement of the Crimean Tatars continued, using non-violent methods. Tatars were finally able to return to the peninsula in 1987.
In Nov. 2015, the Verkhovna Rada recognized the deportation of Tatars from Crimea as genocide. The Rada decided that every May 18, Ukraine would commemorate the victims.
After the illegal occupation of Crimea by Russia in March 2014, Tatars are again being persecuted, and their fundamental freedoms and human rights are being violated. They are banned from commemorating the tragedy today on the peninsula.
However, in other cities all over the country, events of remembrance are taking place today.
Ukraine and other countries, where the Crimean Tatar diaspora still lives, remember the 1944 genocide, and they hope that a similar tragedy will not happen again.