79 years ago, Russia committed one of the largest crimes against humanity, which turned into genocide – the deportation of the Crimean Tatar people. In the middle of the night, Soviet security forces began breaking into homes, expelling people without time to gather. In the first 3 days, they deported more than 180 thousand Crimean Tatars to the most remote areas of the USSR.
Far from their homes, from their historic homeland, Crimean Tatars have been fighting for their right to return for more than half a century. And they were able to return without obstacles only in the days of independent Ukraine. And then Russia invaded their home again.
In the first year of occupation alone, about 20 indigenous people were victims of enforced disappearances, and dozens more were victims of criminal prosecution. Now, after 9 years of occupation, 116 of 182 political prisoners are Crimean Tatars. They were imprisoned for their religion, active civic position, journalistic activities, and even just for helping other illegally imprisoned fellow citizens.
Life under constant surveillance by the FSB, searches in the middle of the night at gunpoint by occupation forces, who, despite the cries of children, continue to turn the house upside down and plant “evidence.” Torture, labeling as a “terrorist,” deprivation of the last word at the trial, ignoring and not providing medical care, and deportation again, just under a different name – “transfer” to a Russian prison.
Out of 182 political prisoners, the occupiers left less than a third in Crimea. There are 29 Crimean Tatars among them. And all of them face deportation to Russian prisons. Two Ukrainian prisoners have already died in the horrific conditions of these places, one of them is a representative of the indigenous Crimean Tatar people, Dzhemil Gafarov.
On the Day of Remembrance of the victims of the genocide of the Crimean Tatar people, we urge you to join the Letters to a Free Crimea campaign. Here you will find the names of our fellow citizens who were illegally imprisoned in Crimea or taken to Russia by the occupiers.
Support them with a conversation about something interesting, share your impressions, ask for advice. This way we will show them that we have not forgotten that we are fighting for them and we will win. And our illegally imprisoned citizens will return to their homeland.
May the memory of the thousands of Crimean Tatars who died as a result of the 1944 deportation be blessed!