On this day, we commemorate the victims of the deportation of the Crimean Tatars, a genocide against the indigenous people of Crimea carried out by the Soviet government on 18–20 May 1944.
Around 200,000 Crimean Tatars were deported from their homeland, and according to the self-census of the National Movement of Crimean Tatars, this figure amounts to 423,100. Women, children, the elderly were brutally packed into cattle trains and sent mostly to the Uzbek SSR. Nearly 8,000 Crimean Tatars died during the deportation, while tens of thousands perished subsequently due to the harsh exile conditions.
The Soviet government used claims that some Crimean Tatars allegedly collaborated with Nazi Germany to justify the ethnic cleansing. The representatives of this ethnicity were labeled as “traitors”, and in the consequent years after the deportation, the intense campaign of detatarization followed to erase remaining traces of Crimean Tatar existence.
77 years later, the Crimean Tatars living in the occupied Crimea face prosecution again from the successor of the Soviet regime – the Kremlin. At least 75 Crimean Tatars are imprisoned by the occupation regime, and groundless charges of extremism are used to enlarge their prison sentences.
The repressions against Crimean Tatars need to stop, and the de-occupation of the peninsula is the only way to ensure the rights of its indigenous people are respected.