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The following news report published in The Observer (27 July 1969) was the second article written by Peter Reddaway but appeared under an anonymous byline, Special Correspondent. It relates to the Tashkent trials of Crimean Tatars and the arrest of General Petro Grigorenko in May 1969.
See also the first article, "Exiled Tatars in struggle with Kremlin" by Peter Reddaway, published in The Observer (30 March 1969) with photographs, and reprinted on ICC's Web site.
We are grateful to Professor Reddaway for bringing the Observer articles to our attention and reporting on the struggles of Crimean Tatars against the Soviet authorities for the first time in a major Western newspaper more than four decades ago. Editor.
Crimes against Tartars being hushed up
By a Special Correspondent
While a thick veil of secrecy hangs over Tashkent, where 10 Crimean Tartar leaders have been on trial since 1 July, remarkable new documents about the Tartars' resolute campaign to return home from exile to the Crimean have reached the West.
The people on trial as reported exclusively in THE OBSERVER in March are Rollan Kadiyev, Izzet Khairov, Riza Umerov, Ayder Bariev, Svetlana Ametova, Munire Khalilova, Reshat Bairamov, Ridvan Gafarov, Ruslan Eminov and Ismail Yazydzhiev.
The charges are thought to concern the alleged 'spreading of deliberate fabrications, defaming the Soviet political and social system.' One such 'fabrication' is alleged to be the Tatars' claim that 46 per cent of their nation perished in the savage deportation of 1944, the official figures being much lower.
In one of the new documents written by ex-General Peter Grigorenko after he had studied the case, and sent by him to the court and to defence lawyers in March the official figures are analyzed at great length and shown to be false.
Grigorenko then gives freer rein to his feelings:
So now, a quarter of a century after a monstrous crime has been committed against a small but honest and industrious people, the whole colossal apparatus of coercion of the Uzbek Republic unleashing itself on the children who survived those years, in order to shut their mouths and save from moral punishment the criminals those who took part in the barbaric action against the Crimean Tartar people.
On 7 May Grigorenko was arrested in Tashkent and put in solitary confinement. He had gone there, at the request of 2,000 Tartars, to appear as a 'social witness' at the trial. But the Tartars themselves merely redoubled their efforts and, among other things, compiled a vast 6,000 word appeal 'To the Presidium of the World Conference of Communist and Worker' Parties and 'To People of Goodwill.'
The appeal states that 110,000 Tartars died as a result of the deportation, and continues:
From 1956 onwards the Crimean Tartars have been continuously appealing to the party and Government, asking to be returned to their Crimean motherland and for the restoration of their rights.
...meetings of Tartar workers in defence of their rights are dispersed by the militia, by KGB troops and by internal security troops. This has occurred in Bekobad, Angrena, Fergana, Kuvasai, Tashknet, Chirchik, Samarkand and in other cities where Crimean Tartars reside. In July 1967 twenty mandated representative out of the 415 who had travelled to Moscow to ask for the question of the Crimean Tartars' return to the Crimea to be settled were received by a group of officials headed by KGB Chairman Andropov, candidate member of the Politbureau of the Party Central Committee, on whose behalf Andropov announced that the Crimean Tartar people had been groundlessly accused of treason; the deportation of the nation was an act on injustice and "the Party and Government want to settle your problem."
After an edict had at last rehabilitated the Tartars, but said nothing about their return to the Crimea, about 6,000 Crimean Tartars travelled to the Crimea on the strength of the edict of 5 September for the purpose of getting registered and obtaining employment, but only three unmarried men and two families in all succeeded in getting registered. And this too at a time when all over the Crimea there is a demand for workers in different trades and there are thousands of empty houses intended for people to be recruited for the Crimea....
At a press conference given to foreign journalists, Paletskis [President of the Soviet of Nationalities] declared: "Recently an edict appeared in virtue of which the Crimean Tartars have the right to reside in Crimea but they don't want to return to the Crimea." What cynical lies....
The document also describes the leaders now on trial, calling them "the best sons and daughters of the people."
Originally published in The Observer, 27 July 1969.
Posted: 1 July 2013.