May 18 is a commemorative day for Crimean Tatars, the events that etched in the memory of the nation took place no less than 76 years ago; however, history repeats itself. In 1944, a year before the World War II was ended, the authorities of the Soviet Union initiated inhuman act towards Crimean Tatars – a deportation of these people from their native land allegedly by the reason of their collaboration with Nazi Germany. In early morning of May 18 the soviet military and special services forced Crimean Tatars to leave their homes – people were given no more than half an hour to take some basic necessities, and after they were loaded into cattle trains that should have bring them to remote areas of the Union.

For the most part people were deported to Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and the Ural region. According to the latest data, the number of deported Crimean Tatars reached 193,865, about 7,889 people died on the way because of dreadful conditions (poor sanitation, lack of food, water) and violence; tens of thousands died in exile. The operation lasted till the beginning of June, all the property, left on the Crimean Peninsula, was confiscated and never returned.

Each year Crimean Tatars honor the 18th of May as the day of national tragedy. Deportees were forced to live in poor conditions. First of all, the areas were not prepared for the arrival of Crimean Tatars beforehand, so people had to build some shelters by themselves. They felt lack of food and clothes, unfavorable climate led to diseases, however, Crimean Tatars could not rely on any medical care. As a result of deprivation, during the first year of the settlement only in Uzbekistan 46,2% of the deportees died. It was forbidden to leave the area of settlement, as well as to come back on the peninsula! The repatriation process was very slow. Only in 1989 Crimean Tatars began to return massively. Some countries (Latvia, Lithuania, Canada, Ukraine) recognized the deportation of Crimean Tatars as an act of genocide.

In March 2014, when Russian Federation annexed the Crimean peninsula, Crimean Tatars experienced deja vu. Under the Russian rule Mejlis, a representative body of Crimean Tatars that was created in 1991 and since then had been functioning on legal positions within Ukrainian legislative system, was declared to be an extremist organization and forbidden. The former Head of this representative body Mustafa Dzhemilev was banned from entering the Crimean peninsula; Refat Chubarov, the Head of Mejlis at present time, was accused of organizing mass riots, violation of territorial integrity of Russian Federation and calls for separation Crimea from Russia.

Crimean Tatars suffer of political oppression and violation of human rights. Under the pretext of fight with extremism, the regime conducts illegal house-searches, arrests and expulsions. During the period of occupation, 13 people were abducted, 21 were killed; among 190 political prisoners, 136 were Crimean Tatars. In fact, since the occupation, Crimean Tatars are treated as those who are dangerous for the regime and, consequently, they cannot feel themselves in safe on native land.

Memory of genocide: 76 years since deportation of Crimean Tatars

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