Historical tragedies of Crimean Tatars, Circassians remembered
ANKARA – Anadolu Agency
Turkey on May 18 remembered the deportation and ethnic cleansing of Crimean Tatars 75 years ago by the Soviet Union.
“On the night of May 17-18, 1944, some 250,000 Crimean Tatars torned away from their motherland. Tens of thousands of Crimean Tatars perished under the inhumane circumstances of this exile, carried out 75 years ago. Many of them passed away in exile under harsh conditions, yearning for their homeland,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hami Aksoy said in a written statement.
He also marked the date of May 21, 1864, which is commemorated as the anniversary of the “Circassian Exile” tragedy and said “the pain of this tragedy is still alive, even today”.
“We share the pain of our kinsmen, the Crimean Tatars, as well as brotherly peoples of the Caucasus and respectfully honour the memory of those lost their lives during these exiles,” Aksoy added.
On May 18, 1944, tens of thousands of Crimean Tatars were deported to Central Asia by Joseph Stalin’s Soviet regime, which accused them of collaborating with occupying Nazi forces.
The Crimean Tatars were deported to various regions within Soviet territory, in particular Siberia and Uzbekistan. Almost half of the exiles, who endured long months of dire living conditions, are thought to have died of starvation and disease.
The exile continued until 1987, when the Soviet government allowed 2,300 Crimean Tatars to return to their homeland. Another 19,300 people followed in 1988.
Nearly 1.5 million Circassians were expelled from the region to the east of the Black Sea when it was overrun by Russia in 1864. Some 400,000-500,000 are believed to have died.
Most of the Circassian exiles were absorbed into the Ottoman Empire, settling as far away as present-day Jordan.