78th anniversary of the deportation of the Crimean Tatars in 1944

Following the genocide under Stalin, we are now seeing a repetition of sorrowful historic events under Putin

Today, the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) would like to recall the collective deportation of the Crimean Tatars under Stalin: "It is especially bitter for this troubled community that we are now seeing a repetition of their sorrowful history of expulsion and flight due to Putin's war of aggression against Ukraine," stated Hanno Schedler, STP expert on genocide prevention and the responsibility to protect.

May 18 marks the 78th anniversary of the beginning of the deportation of the Crimean Tatars in 1944. Back then, around 238.500 Crimean Tatars were deported to Central Asia in cattle wagons. Almost 44 percent of the deportees are said to have died, and most of the victims were women and children. Several other minority groups of the former Soviet Union were deported as well. This genocide is one of the worst atrocities in recent European history. It was not until the late 1980s that the first Crimean Tatars were allowed to return.

"However, as early as in 2014, tens of thousands of Crimean Tatars lost their home due to the Russian annexation of Crimea. They were forced to flee to the Ukrainian mainland, as this was the only place where they could live in freedom," Schedler added. "What the Crimean Tatars experienced on their peninsula since 2014 was a bitter foretaste of what is happening in the areas occupied by the Russian army today. Even if there are no more bombings, people are still murdered or disappeared by the Russian occupying forces."

The STP is organizing an online webinar on the history of the Crimean Tatars – on May 24, 2022, starting at 5:30 pm (https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_zrtIcyWEQqOF8lsaTxi5lQ). Aishe Memetova, Crimean Tatar political scientist and founder of the human rights organization "Devam" (continuation), will shine a light on the development since 2014 – and talk about the methods with which the Russian regime is suppressing the Crimean Tatar culture, their language, and the civil society.

Since their return from exile in Central Asia, the Crimean Tatars managed to build up several media, and they used their self-governing body, the Mejlis, to represent their interests. After the annexation, Russia started to destroy these structures. In April 2017, the International Court of Justice in The Hague demanded Russia to revoke the closure of the Mejlis and to give the Crimean Tatars back their rights. Russia had ignored the court's decision. In the scope of Russian propaganda, the Mejlis is falsely depicted as "terrorist" or "extremist". Contrary to the Russian propaganda, Crimea is not recognized as part of Russia, but is seen as a part of Ukraine under international law.

In 2018, the United Nations General Assembly decided that the Russian annexation of Crimea was to be seen as illegal. This evening, "Berlin Info-Point Krim" will hold a vigil on the occasion of the 78th anniversary of the deportation of the Crimean Tatars – on Pariser Platz in Berlin, starting at 8 pm.  

Hanno Schedler is available for further questions: h.schedler@gfbv.de or +49 551 49906-15