May 25, 2009

Crimean Tartars: Ukraine to Investigate Deportation

Active ImageUkraine to establish a special unit to investigate Stalin-era deportation of 200 000 Crimean Tartars.



Below is an article published by Gather :

Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, head of the State Security Service of Ukraine has announced that he is establishing a special unit to investigate Stalin-era crimes against Crimean Tatars. These same Tatars are commemorating the 65th anniversary of their mass deportation from Crimea. This investigation will look as well into the forced deportation of all other ethnic groups from the Crimean peninsula during World War II. This announcement was made in the Crimean capital, Simferopol, where the new unit will be headquartered. Nalyvaichenko said Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko ordered the creation of the unit to investigate crimes involving the repression and destruction of Crimean Tatars under the Soviet Union. This mass Stalin-era deportation killed tens of thousands of Tatars, and of course the Soviets denied all such charges.

Deportation of as many as 200,000 Crimean Tatar men, women and children began on May 18, 1944. They were accused of Nazi collaboration, placed in train cattle cars and sent to Central Asia. Tens of thousands perished along the way, and others died of malnutrition or disease soon after arriving. In 1967, the Soviet government said the charges were false.

The investigation will cover the deportation era along with the years that preceded it. The Ukrainian State Security Service has also declassified Soviet documents related to the execution of Crimean Tatar intelligentsia members. Nalyvaichenko says the forced deportation of innocent Armenians, Bulgarians, Germans and others from Crimea will also be investigated.  Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemilev told VOA he welcomes the Ukrainian decision, but notes the purpose of the investigation is not to capture or punish anyone. Dzhemilev says those directly responsible for the deportation are no longer alive. But he says it is important to see the full picture of the crime, and for society to know it was in fact a crime, because that will help in the overall recovery of society. Leader says Crimean Tatars should have education in their native language

Mustafa Dzhemilev, noted leader of the Crimean Tatars, says no laws have been passed to reinstate the social and legal rights of Crimean Tatars. Dzhemilev further warns that the entire culture and language of his people can disappear within decades if nothing is done to revive education in the native language.

Tens of thousands of tatars and Ukrainians participated in a rally Monday [19 May 2009] in Simferopol marking the 65th anniversary of the Crimean Tatar deportation.