We will not forget
On the 69th anniversary of the deportation of Crimean Tatars from their homeland, we remember all those who died during the years of exile. They were victims of hunger, disease, cruel separation from families and unjust governmental policies. In anticipation of the anniversary, several posters are circulating in the social media now. One says:
18 May 1944
We did not forget
We will not forget
It will not be forgotten
Most of the deportees from Crimea were women, children and elderly men, while able men fought in WWII defending the Soviet motherland. Nearly half of the deportees died during the long and arduous journey on unsanitary trains and within two years of life in special settlements. Forced to live in exile for decades, many Crimean Tatars were able to return to Crimea only after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. However, they have met many obstacles trying to resettle in their homeland. Land ownership, employment, education in their own native language, and social prejudice and discrimination remain the main problems. Recent political pressures from the local Crimean administration are not conducive to the peaceful settlement of native people subjected to forced migration and repression. Over 100, 000 Crimean Tatars are still living in Uzbekistan where they were deported nearly 70 years ago.
Frustrated by the inaction of the Ukrainian government in facilitating the repatriation of Crimean Tatars, members of the diaspora living in Turkey and European countries will be staging peaceful demonstrations on 18 May 2013. Organized by the European Crimean Tatar Cultural Center, groups of concerned citizens, carrying Crimean flags, will gather in front of the Ukrainian Embassies in Germany, France, Holland and Belgium to protest the recent political pressures exerted by the local Crimean administration and to show their solidarity with Crimean repatriates. We applaud the efforts of the members of the European diaspora to organize peaceful demonstrations in support of their compatriots in Crimea and hope that their actions will have the desired positive effect.
Inci A Bowman, Ph.D.
International Committee for Crimea, Inc.