Today, on May 18, 2021, Ukraine marks the Remembrance Day for the Victims of the Crimean Tatar People Genocide and honors the memory of more than two hundred innocent victims of the Stalinist regime. In 1944, Crimean Tatars were forcefully thrown into freight wagons and deported to the remote regions of Central Asia and Siberia.
The deportation of 1944 was a purposeful action of the USSR antihuman communist regime to eliminate one of the indigenous peoples of Crimea.
Per various estimates, more than 46 percent of Crimean Tatars perished during the first years of deportation due to starvation, mass diseases, physical abuse and hard labor at special settlements.
During the deportation years, Crimean Tatars were held in special settlements under harsh conditions of a curfew regime. They were forced to hard labor, worked at coalmines, fell forest trees and constructed irrigation systems. These losses notwithstanding, Crimean Tatars continued their decades-long political fight for the right to return to their Motherland.
In 2014, seventy years after the 1944 deportation, the Russian Federation occupied Crimea and renewed repressions against Crimean Tatars. Systemic political persecution, physical and psychological pressure, annihilation of the independent media, discrimination on the basis of religion, violation of ownership and language rights forced more than 48,000 Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians to leave the occupied peninsula. On 29 September 2016, Russia’s Supreme Court upheld the decision to ban the Mejlis on the Crimean Tatar people labelling it as an extremist organization.
Hundreds of Ukrainian citizens in Crimea became victims of political repressions on fabricated charges. Dozens remain detained either in Crimea or in Russia for politically motivated reasons or on trumped-up charges.
Ukraine’s position on defense of European democratic values, human rights and freedoms remains unchanged and unwavering. Ukraine protects the rights of the Crimean Tatar people as it does regarding the rights of all indigenous peoples residing on the Ukrainian territory.
Ukraine urges the international community to condemn this crime of the totalitarian communist regime and recognize the 1944 deportation of Crimean Tatars as the act of genocide against the Crimean Tatar people.
We call upon the entire democratic world to support the Crimea Platform and jointly clear the way to de-occupation of the peninsula and resolution of the pressing political, security, legal, economic and humanitarian problems caused by the Russian Federation’s occupation of Crimea.
“Oh how many of them
had courageously fought for their freedom!
And fell dead for that sacred, that holy the right!
To eternally clear the good name of our people
And let everyone know:
‘We’re not dead, we persist, we’re alive!”
Crimean Tatar poet, translator, journalist