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Ukraine commemorates anniversary of Crimean Tatars' forced deportation, genocide

by The Kyiv Independent news desk May 18, 2023 12:20 PM 2 min read
Flags of the Crimean Tatar people fly on May 18, 2020, during a rally in memory of the victims of the forced deportation of Crimean Tatars which began on May 18, 1944. ( Yulii Zozulia/ Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
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The Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar flags were lowered at the Foreign Ministry on May 18 to commemorate the forced deportations carried out by the Soviets in 1944, Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzheppar reported.

From May 18-20, 1944, the Soviet secret policy forcibly deported thousands of indigenous Crimean Tatars –  including women, children, and the elderly – across thousands of kilometers from Crimea to Uzbekistan.

An estimated 8,000 Crimean Tatars died in the process. Estimates on total deaths from harsh exile conditions range from 34,000 to over 100,000.

The deportation has officially been recognized by Ukraine and several other countries as a genocide against the Crimean Tatars.

The Crimean Tatar flag lowered at the Foreign Ministry to commemorate the Soviet's forced deportations in 1944. (Photo: Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzheppar / Twitter) 

Afterward, the Soviet authorities attempted to erase any remaining traces of the Crimean Tatars on the peninsula.

"History repeated itself in 2014. Modern Russia applies the worst repressive practices in Crimea. But it failed before and it will fail again. Liberation of the Crimean Peninsula will put an end (to Russia's) perverted imperialistic ambitions and respect for human rights be restored worldwide," Ukrainian-Crimean Tatar deputy minister, Dzheppar, wrote.

Crimea has been under Russian occupation since 2014, and the Crimean Tatars who remained on the peninsula have faced regular persecution by occupation authorities.

Russia has also continued its tradition of using forced deportations as a tactic of terror against Ukraine. The Reintegration Ministry confirmed in late March that over 19,000 Ukrainian children had been forcibly deported to Russia since the start of the full-scale invasion.

In late April, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin signed a decree allowing the deportation of Ukrainians in occupied territories who refuse to take Russian citizenship.

Crimean Tatars dream of their homeland’s liberation as Ukraine strikes back in the south
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