Statement by the Delegation of Ukraine, circulated among the OSCE participating States and Partners for Co-operation on 18 May
On 18 May 2015 Ukraine commemorates the 71th anniversary of one of the most tragic pages in the history of the Crimean Tatar people – the 1944 deportation by the Soviet regime. The deportation was a form of collective punishment for alleged Crimean Tatars’ collaboration with the Nazis during 1942-1943.
More than 238 thousand Crimean Tatars, mostly women, children and aged persons were transferred far away from their native soil – to Siberia, the Urals and Central Asia. One year later they were joined by Crimean Tatars - soldiers of the Soviet Army, whom the Stalin regime also labeled as “traitors” despite their fight against Nazism during the World War II. According to available data, horrific transportation conditions resulted into deaths of over 7000 Crimean Tatars en route. Those who succeeded to reach the destination of deportation faced repressions, hunger, deceases and absence of proper medical treatment. As a result 46.2% of people, who endured deportation, died in 1944-1948 years.
The very name of the indigenous people – Crimean Tatars – was effectively banned. It appeared to be a true genocide of Crimean Tatars, organized by Stalin and his accomplices. Ukrainians, who lost millions of lives during the 1932-1933 Great Famine, fully share the pain of its Crimean Tatar brothers and sisters. Support and re-integration of Crimean Tatars, who come back to their native land, have been one of the priority tasks of Ukraine since gaining independence in 1991.
Russian illegal occupation and annexation of Ukraine’s Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol put the Crimean Tatar community under threat. Over a year in occupation Crimean Tatars have faced repressions and intimidation, attacks on their representative bodies, media and business, detention of the activists. Their leaders have been banned from entering occupied Crimea, some of their compatriots – killed or disappeared.
In 2014 the Russian occupants hindered the Crimean Tatars to properly commemorate the 70th anniversary of deportation. The same difficulties the Crimean Tatar community of the peninsula faces this year.
Unlike the occupied territories, commemorative events are to be held throughout the rest of Ukraine, including with the engagement of the leaders of the state and government. Crimean Tatars are integral part of the Ukrainian people and Ukraine cherishes its history, culture and traditions. Any attempts of the occupants to break ties of Crimean Tatars with their native soil – Crimea, as well as with Ukraine, will fail. The Russian occupation will end sooner or later. Crimea has been and will be an integral part of Ukraine.