On May 18, Ukraine marks the Day of struggle for the rights of the Crimean Tatar people and commemorates the victims of the deportation of Crimean Tatars in 1944.
The deportation of the Crimean Tatars began on May 18, 1944 at 3 a.m. and lasted until the beginning of June. The deportation of the Crimean Tatar people was carried out in the line with the secret decree of the State Defense Committee No. 5859 “On Crimean Tatars” of May 11, 1944, where the Crimean Tatars were accused of allegedly betrayal and collaboration with Nazis during the occupation of Crimea by Hitler's troops. In reality many Crimean Tatars were fighting the Nazis in the ranks of anti-Hitler coalition troops.
It was undoubtedly an act of genocide and ethnocide.
Officially, 183,144 Crimean Tatars were deported from Crimea; according to Tatar sources, the number reached 228,500 and during the first year, 110,000 of them died. 32,000 NKVD officers took part in the operation. People were given several minutes for packing up.
Most of those deported were sent to special settlements in Uzbekistan, some of them to GULAG. Crimea was inhabited by immigrants from Russia and other republics. Mass return of the Crimean Tatars to the homeland began only in the late 80's. Despite everyday difficulties, there was peace and it was possible to live calmly and freely on the native land. Nowadays the Crimean land became the object of Russia's occupation and Tatars faced the threat of discrimination on their native land again.
On May 16, 2014 President of Ukraine issued Decree which established May 18 as a Day of struggle for the rights of the Crimean Tatar in order to support Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians in Crimea for realizing their rights as representatives of indigenous people.
On November 12, 2015 Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine (Parliament) adopted the resolution On the recognition of the deportation the Crimean Tatar people as an act of genocide.