Turkey marks painful anniversary of Circassians' exile
The 19th-century exile of Circassians from their Black Sea homeland remains a painful tragedy, said Turkey’s president on May 21.
"On the 157th anniversary of the deportation of our Circassian brothers from their homeland, I feel a great pain in my heart, and I wish Allah's mercy to those who lost their lives," Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Twitter.
The Circassians, a predominantly Muslim people, suffered greatly under Czarist Russia and were subjected to ethnic cleansing.
A war in 1864 near the Black Sea port city of Sochi resulted in defeat for the Circassians and saw the Russian Empire invade all of Caucasia, a region extending from the eastern Black Sea to the Caspian Sea.
In a plight similar to that of the Crimean Tatars, nearly 1.5 million Circassians were expelled from the region to east of the Black Sea when it was overrun by Russia in 1864. Up to half a million are believed to have died.
Most of the Circassian exiles were absorbed into the Ottoman Empire, settling as far away as present-day Jordan.