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The Struggle of the Indigenous Peoples of Crimea for Survival

Sahirman, Elvir

Crimean Tatars: today, this small number of people is known all over the world. The history of the Crimean Tatars is full of complicated moments and tragic events, as well as the centuries-old history of Crimea itself. On repeated occasions, representatives of the Indigenous Crimean Tatar Peoples were persecuted and repressed—their territories were seized, they were deported to Central Asia in cattle wagons, and they were not allowed to return to their homeland. Because of such inhumane policies, the number of Crimean Tatars has decreased significantly over the years. In an interview with the author of this chapter, historian Gulnara Abdullaeva stated that there are only about 300,000 Tatars who live compactly in their historical homeland—in Crimea (more than 100,000 still remain in Uzbekistan). The events of recent years served to be a true tragedy for them. Because of their disagreement with the occupation of Crimea by Russia, they are continuously subjected to pressure and repression by the Russian authorities of the peninsula. This is recognized in resolutions made by the United Nations General Assembly. However, the Tatars’ extraordinary ability to unite and their centuries-old experience of non-violent struggle for their rights makes it possible to keep Crimean issues on the agenda at the international level. Crimean Tatars sincerely believe that soon things are bound to improve and people will live freely and will be able to return to their homeland. The older generation often repeats: “We survived deportation in 1944, heat and cold, hunger and death, inhumane conditions of life in a foreign land. After nearly half a century, we were able to return to our homeland. We will definitely survive this, too.” And trust me, they are right. Their great desire to live freely on their land will overcome any obstacle.

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Also Published In

Global Indigenous Youth: Through Their Eyes

More About This Work

Academic Units
Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Institute for the Study of Human Rights, Columbia University
Published Here
October 28, 2019


This is a chapter from "Global Indigenous Youth: Through Their Eyes". The entire volume is available in Academic Commons at