Crimean Tatars: Do They Still Have a Home?
As Crimean Tatars return from exile, they face continuous challenges concerning their rehabilitation in their homeland.
Below is an excerpt from an article published by Laurence Lee for Al Jazeera:
After decades of exile across central Asia, the ethnic Tatars of Crimea in
Nearly half a million were deported at the end of the Second World War, and 200,000 died on their horrific journey into exile.
Haidar was 16 when he was deported under the orders of Josef Stalin, the Soviet leader, and like other Muslim Tatars in
He was the only member of his family to survive exile and when he came back in 1990, aged 62, he found his family's houses had all been destroyed, or in one case, full of Russian families who had taken it over.
"The Russians aren't to blame. It was the fault of the authorities and the state. We were taken to central Asia, they were brought here from
In the town of
It's easy to find Tatar families still coming back, building homes because someone else is living in theirs.
Coming home has become a journey full of bitterness and broken hopes - and no help from the authorities.
Many returning Tatars were denied planning permission to build new homes, with some living in outbuildings such as garages.
On woman, Fatima, told Al Jazeera: "We don't have anything to share with the Russians. We just live day to day. We only hope for some help, and peace, but we don't get it. If you don't feed yourself no-one will."
"For many years we have demanded autonomy for the Crimean Tatars," says Akhtem Cheigoz, a Tatar community leader.
"But the authorities say we are in the minority, here in our native land. They say there is no solution, but for us this is the most important issue. We face discrimination every day."
The return of the Crimean Tatars remains a work in progress.
Whether the next generation will be any luckier than their ancestors may depend on the decisions of their Slavic neighbours.