Remember the Date: Deportation of the Crimean Tatars on 18 May 1944
Left to right, top to bottom: Memorial to the deportation in Eupatoria; candle-lighting ceremony in Kyiv; memorial rally in Taras Shevchenko park; cattlecar similar to the type used in the deportation; maps comparing the demographics of Crimea in 1939 and 2001. Source: Wikipedia

On 18 May 2021 the Crimean Solidarity group said prayers and commemorations of the victims of the 1944 deportations were held in towns and villages across Crimea, despite warnings by Russia-imposed authorities not to hold unsanctioned public events. On 18-20 May 1944 at least 191,044 Crimean Tatars were deported from their homes by the Soviet government, mostly to the Uzbek SSR. Nearly 8,000 perished during the deportation and tens of thousands subsequently perished due to the harshness of the conditions.


RFE/RL, 18 May 2021: Ukrainian officials have marked the 77th anniversary of the Crimean Tatars’ Stalin-era deportations from Crimea to Central Asia by denouncing what they called their ongoing persecution by Russia. Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in March 2014 and backed separatists in two of its eastern provinces, sparking a war that has killed more than 13,000 people. Crimean Tatars, rights activists, and Western governments say Russia has subjected Crimean Tatars and others who opposed annexation to abuse, discrimination, and politically motivated prosecution on false charges. As Crimean Tatars marked the anniversary of the 1944 deportations, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a statement: “We will not forgive that 70 years [after the deportations] you were forced to leave your home again due to the Russian annexation.” “And those of you who remain [in Crimea] are being persecuted and imprisoned by the occupation authorities,” Zelenskiy added. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that Russia “continues to systemically suppress the Crimean Tatars.” Russia denies carrying out repressions in Crimea, but regularly announces arrests of alleged Islamist or pro-Ukrainian “terrorists” on the Black Sea peninsula. The Crimean Solidarity group said that prayers and commemorations of the victims of the 1944 deportations were held on May 18 in towns and villages across Crimea, despite warnings by Russia-imposed authorities not to hold unsanctioned public events. Commemoration events were also held in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.

Wikipedia: The deportation of the Crimean Tatars was the ethnic cleansing and cultural genocide of at least 191,044 Crimean Tatars in 18–20 May 1944 carried out by the Soviet government, ordered by Lavrentiy Beria, head of the Soviet state security and secret police, acting on behalf of Joseph Stalin. Within three days, the NKVD used cattle trains to deport mostly women, children, the elderly, even Communists and members of the Red Army, to mostly the Uzbek SSR, several thousand kilometres away. They were one of the several ethnicities who were encompassed by Stalin’s policy of population transfer in the Soviet Union. The deportation officially was intended as collective punishment for the perceived collaboration of some Crimean Tatars with Nazi Germany; modern sources theorize that the deportation was part of the Soviet plan to gain access to the Dardanelles and acquire territory in Turkey where the Tatars had Turkic ethnic kin. Nearly 8,000 Crimean Tatars died during the deportation, while tens of thousands perished subsequently due to the harsh exile conditions. The Crimean Tatar exile resulted in the abandonment of 80,000 households and 360,000 acres of land. An intense campaign of detatarization to erase remaining traces of Crimean Tatar existence followed. In 1956, the new Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, condemned Stalin’s policies, including the deportation of various ethnic groups, but did not lift the directive forbidding the return of the Crimean Tatars, despite allowing the right of return for most other deported peoples. They remained in Central Asia for several more decades until the Perestroika era in the late 1980s when 260,000 Crimean Tatars returned to Crimea. Their exile lasted 45 years. The ban on their return was officially declared null and void, and the Supreme Council of Crimea declared on 14 November 1989 that the deportations had been a crime.

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