19.5 An Appeal by the Crimean Tatar People

No 19 : 30 April 1971

Appeal of the Crimean Tatar People to the 24th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party, to the Soviet Press, to All Communists

(The Appeal is here reproduced in an abridged form)

The Central Committee of the Communist Party is well aware of the existence in the USSR of the national movement of the Crimean Tatar people for a return to their homeland in the Crimea and the restoration of Lenin’s historic decree on the autonomy of the Crimea. Hundreds of thousands of Soviet citizens are participants in this movement. The [Crimean Tatar] people send thousands of its representatives, messengers from the people, to the central authorities in Moscow. To the Central Committee alone they have handed hundreds of thousands of letters from individuals and 163 volumes of various documents, on which a total of more than three million signatures have accumulated over the years. And all without result. [1]

Our people appealed to the 23rd Party Congress. The presidium of the congress was sent an appeal which more than 130,000 people had signed, yet our question was not raised at the congress.

Our situation as a nation is intolerable. For we do not ask for ourselves anything exceptional. We wish to be an equal people among the equal peoples of our country. We have faith that the Party will solve this problem …

A terrible national tragedy befell the Crimean Tatar people on the night of 17-18 May 1944. While most of the Crimean Tatar population who were fit to bear arms were fighting at the fronts of the Great Patriotic War, their families in the rear – old men, women, children, partisans, members of the government of the Crimean Autonomous Republic, members of the USSR Supreme Soviet – all without exception were turned out of their houses, driven into trains and deported to remote areas of the country.

To disguise the essence of the barbaric act of banishing the Crimean Tatars from their Homeland, the enemies of Lenin’s nationalities policy and of the friendship of the peoples maliciously laid against them the baseless charge of “betraying” the fatherland. The decrees of 1946 and 1956 were a legislative consolidation of this treacherous act, serving as its vindication or veiled justification. Moreover these decrees greatly aided the concoction of slanderous fabrications against the Crimean Tatars in the areas of historical science, literature and so on. The Crimean Tatars, as a people, have been struck from all encyclopedias, guidebooks and reference books. Pseudo-scientific historians and writers have appeared, who shamelessly falsify historical reality with impunity, whipping up hatred against a small nation …

With great bitterness we inform the congress that the numerous letters and Appeals sent by Crimean Tatars to the highest Party and government bodies over a number of years remain unanswered, are passed over in stubborn silence and ignored, despite the legal obligation to reply to us.

Moreover our problem, from a matter for consideration by Party and legislative bodies, has been turned into a matter for the agencies of security and internal affairs, at which our people expresses its deep indignation. One might think that our national movement in some degree “threatened” the security of the country and conflicted with the interests of Party and State. (Together with this Appeal we submit documents of indictment exposing the improper actions of the administrative authorities, who are trying to intimidate our people.)

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The Crimean Tatar people angrily condemns the deeply disturbing atmosphere which has been created in the Crimea with regard to its original inhabitants and to citizens of Crimean Tatar nationality who arrived to take up residence there after the promulgation of the decree of 5 September 1967. (We attach to this Appeal irrefutable documents exposing numerous instances of outrages committed against Crimean Tatars attempting to return to their Homeland, the Crimea.) …

Appealing to the great forum of the Communists of our country, we ask you:

1. To sanction an organised return of the Crimean Tatars to their native land, the Crimea, and to create the necessary conditions for their successful development as a people and as a nation.

2. To renew the validity of Lenin’s decree of 18 October 1921 on the formation of the Crimean Autonomous Republic.

3. To reinstate in the ranks of the Party all those expelled from it for taking part in our national movement.

4. To release and rehabilitate all our representatives sentenced for taking part in our national movement.

5. To call to account the falsifiers of the history of the Crimean Tatar people.

NOTE

[1] The first thorough analysis of the Tatars’ fate and campaign is in The Crimean Tatars and Volga Germans by Ann Sheehy. Minority Rights Group, 36 Craven St., London WC2N 5NG, 1971.