: Right to Homeland: Photo exhibition on Crimean Tatars deportation
Society16:16 May. 18, 2016

Right to Homeland: Photo exhibition on Crimean Tatars deportation

Expo features portraits and personal stories of people who survived the expulsion

May 18th marks the 72nd anniversary of the deportation of the Crimean Tatars. In 1944 more than 200 hundred thousand people were forcibly taken away from their homes by the order of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. And today, this photo exhibition is dedicated to the victims of the Communist repressions.

Read more about Crimean Tatar deportation in Ukraine Today's special project

The exhibition features 10 portraits of the Tatars, who personally experienced the deportation. Their stories begin on the day the Soviet police broke into their homes. The communists accused them of cooperation with Nazi Germany. And in two days almost all Tatars, living on the peninsula, were moved to Central Asia.

Tamila Tasheva, "Crimean Tatars deportation" photo exhibition organiser: "We published personal stories of ten people, who survived the deportation. They are the representation of the people, they bear the genetic code of the nation, so we wanted to tell this tragedy through their exact words."

The organisers of the exhibition read the stories of the Crimean Tatars out loud. They say, they want to explain the full scale of this crime. Because even now, many Ukrainians either don't know or confuse the facts about the deportation.

Anastasiya Dryzhak, "Crimean Tatars deportation" photo exhibition moderator: "This is more than what it looks like, it's not just an exhibition, cause when you take the paper and read these stories in a few paragraphs, you feel this fear, these emotions, that were felt by the people who survived the deportation."

Read also Crimean Tatars banned from honouring 1944 deportation victims

The Crimean Tatars say, the communist-like repressions still exist in today's Crimea, occupied by Russia. The peninsula is surrounded by fear and hatred. The so-called local authorities raid mosques and detain dozens of Muslims on a regular basis. And Mejlis, the representative body of Crimean Tatars, is now considered "an extremist organisation".

Eskender Beriev, Crimean Tatar Mejlis member: "Ukrainian government needs to approve bills aimed to dealing with the consequences of the deportation. Because this deportation is ongoing, people like Mustafa Dzhemilev, Refat Chubarov, now Russia has banned them from entering Crimea. Russia is doing this to push out the Crimean Tatars from from the homeland. And I think they want to force the members of Mejlis to give up their connections to the institution."

Lyal S. Sunga, Hague Institute for Global Justice, Rule of Law programme head: "Certainly, deportation of populations is a very serious violation of human rights, and if you look into Rome statut of the international Criminal Court, you'll see that forcible expulsion of population from a territory does constitute a crime, so that's the law of today, and back in 1944 it was also considered a crime against humanity."

In 2015 Ukrainian Parliament recognised the deportation as a genocide. They have called on the United Nations to do the same. Crimean Tatars hope joint efforts of the international community will stop the persecutions on the Russian-occupied peninsula. They will continue to organise events like this to bring the issue to the forefront.

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