On May 18th, Ukraine commemorates the victims of the deportation of Crimean Tatars, which became one of the most tragic pages of the history of the 20th century.
77 years ago, following the decisions of the USSR State Committee of Defense, the Crimean Tatar people were subject to mass deportation from their native land, the Crimea. About 200,000 Crimean Tatars, mostly women, children and elderly, were deported to remote areas of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation.
The deportation was held by the USSR National Commissariat of Internal Affairs troops as a specially designed punitive operation, which included armed encirclement of the villages, forced ousting of Crimean Tatars from their houses, protracted detention of people at squares or cemeteries, forced loading of people into overcrowded cattle wagons, and confiscation of all immovable and movable property.
At special settlements where the Crimean Tatars were brought to, they were used as a source of hard grueling labor, including labor at mines, sawmills, construction of irrigation channels. According to various estimates, within the first years after the forced deportation over 46% of Crimean Tatars died at the said settlements for hunger, malnourishment, mass diseases, tortures and backbreaking labor. The forceful detention of the Crimean Tatars in exile and the ban on their return and settlement back in their native land, in Crimea, lasted up until November 1989.
The Verkhovna Rada (parliament) of Ukraine recognized the crime of the Stalin’s regime as genocide of the Crimean Tatar people. In the name of restoring historical truth, we call on our international partners to pay tribute to innocent victims and condemn this crime committed by the totalitarian communist regime.
Moreover, it must be noted that the current Kremlin regime and its occupation administration in Crimea again resorts to terror against Crimean Tatars. There are ongoing repressions, searches, illegal detentions and fake legal proceedings. Also, the ban on the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people is still there. The atmosphere of fear, physical and psychological pressure has forced almost 40,000 citizens of Ukraine, including more than 20,000 Crimean Tatars, to leave the occupied peninsula.
Ukraine urges the Russian Federation to stop the human rights violations in the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, immediately release all political prisoners, ensure full compliance of the Russian Federation with the obligations as an invading state in accordance with international law. At the same time, the Ukrainian Side relies on further consolidated and concerted efforts of the international community to help restore respect for international law and reinstate Ukraine’s control over Crimea.