Ukraine commemorates victims of genocide against Crimean Tatars

Ukraine commemorates victims of genocide against Crimean Tatars

On Saturday, May 18, Ukraine marks the Day of Struggle for the Rights of the Crimean Tatar People and commemorates the victims of genocide against the Crimean Tatars on the 80th anniversary of the tragedy of their mass deportation.

The deportation of Crimean Tatars began on May 18, 1944 at 03:00 and lasted until early June (the first and largest wave ended on May 20).

The official basis for the deportation of the Crimean Tatar people was a secret resolution of the State Defense Committee No. 5859 "About the Crimean Tatars" dated May 11, 1944, in which the Crimean Tatars were charged with alleged mass treason and mass collaborationism during the occupation of Crimea by Hitler's troops.

According to official data (the so-called numbers of Lavrentiy Beria), 183,144 people were deported. According to Tatar sources, more than 400,000 were deported, and about 46% of the deportees died within one-and-a-half years. Some 32,000 NKVD employees took part in the punitive operation. People were given from a few minutes to half an hour to take personal belongings, provisions, dishes and household equipment with them. Most of the property remained and was confiscated by the state. Most of the deportees were sent to special settlements in Uzbekistan, some to the Gulag, and another part to replenish the special contingent for the Moscow coal basin.

Read also: MFA commemorated victims of genocide of Crimean Tatar people

Deportation was part of the "de-Tatarization" of Crimea. Other elements included the destruction of cultural and historical monuments, the replacement of historical local names with new ones such as "Sovietsky", "Pervomaysk", "Krasnogvardeysk", etc. People from Russia and other republics settled in Crimea. During the post-war period, the population of Crimea increased by almost ten times.

Stalin's policy towards the Crimean Tatars was not something new. Russia's capture of Crimea in 1783 led to the decline of cultural life on the peninsula, with many ancient manuscripts burned in a barbaric manner and many architectural monuments destroyed. It was then that the first settlement of Crimea by Russians and foreign colonists began, and the brutal Russification policy took hold. After Crimea was transferred to the Ukrainian SSR in 1954, a decree was issued in 1956 (it was not published) regarding the rehabilitation of the Crimean Tatars, but practically granting them no right to return to their homeland. The mass return of the Crimean Tatars to their homeland began only in the late 1980s.

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