Thursday, March 13, 2014

Will there be pogroms against the Crimean Tatars?

Reports from Crimea indicate that the indigenous Crimean Tatars are very worried about the possibility of violence by ethnic Russians against their community. The Crimean Tatars have very good historical reasons to fear the occupation of their ancestral homeland by the Russian state. Both the Tsarist Russian government and Russian dominated Soviet government subjected the Crimean Tatars to ethnic cleansing. The first pushing many Crimean Tatars out of the Russian Empire into the Ottoman Empire and the second forcibly rounding up almost the entire remaining population and deporting them to Uzbekistan and the Urals.  In Uzbekistan tens of thousands of Crimean Tatars died from malnutrition and malaria from 1944 to 1948. There they lived as second class citizens as special settlers for nearly a dozen years, a status that was intended by the Stalin regime to be permanent. However, even after being released from the special settlement restrictions, the Crimean Tatars were still prohibited by the Soviet government from returning to Crimea until 1987. After that time about half the Crimean Tatar population in Uzbekistan managed to return home. The possibility of renewed violence against the Crimean Tatars is something that rightfully terrifies many in the community today. Nobody should have to live in such fear. If there are pogroms against the Crimean Tatars then US academics like Stephen Cohen who supported the Russian aggression allowing it should be loudly reminded of this bloodshed on a daily basis until their dying day.

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