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Crimea's Tatars mark 1944 deportation of Crimea's Tatars

According to the organizers, about 30 thousand of people participated in the event.

Source : Agencies / 19 May 2014

Thousands of Crimean Tatars gathered at a mosque on Sunday to commemorate the day 70 years ago that the mass deportation of their families began under the orders of the Soviet leader Josef Stalin.

Waving blue and yellow flags and chanting slogans, they rallied outside the mosque on the outskirts of the capital, Simferopol, as Russian military helicopters circled overhead.

The 1944 Soviet-era deportation of 200,000 Tatars to Siberia and central Asia killed many and is a reason for Tatars' deep mistrust of the Russian authorities. Many still associate Moscow's rule with oppression, exile and suffering.

69 years have passed since the genocide during which more than 45% of Crimean Tatars were killed.

Tatar community leaders including the head of the Mejlis assembly, Refat Chubarov, and Crimea's chief mufti made an appeal to the crowd for unity.

"We didn't think we'd be marking the anniversary under these circumstances," Chubarov said. "I don't have a solution to our problems, but I know that we will only be respected if we are united."

Mufti Emirali Ablaev led prayers for the deceased ancestors of those present and called for dialogue with the region's new leadership.

In a resolution adopted at Sunday's rally, the Tatars called for Crimea to have autonomous status within Russia to protect their rights. The Tatars – who make up more than 12% of Crimea's population of two million – also demanded laws to guarantee their representation in Crimea's government.

According to the organizers, about 30 thousand of people participated in the event.

 

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