International Committee for Crimea
ICC, P.O. Box 15078, Washington, DC 20003.
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Appeal of the Crimean Tatar people to the 23rd Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
(March 1966, 33 pages)
GREAT PARTY OF LENIN! MIND, HONOUR AND CONSCIENCE OF THE PEOPLES OF THE USSR! 23rd CONGRESS OF OUR MOTHERLAND'S PARTY!
The Crimean Tatar people, the only one suffering from inequality in our country, deprived of its Homeland, its good name and all its constitutional rights, addresses itself to you today.
Everyone knows that in 1944 the Crimean Tatars, along with other national minorities, were slanderously accused of treason and were all, without exception, exiled from their native soil to Central Asia and the Urals. More than 46.2 % of the Crimean Tatars perished in 1944-45. Since then 22 years have passed... Only for us, the Crimean Tatars, everything remains as before. We live even now in the places to which we were forcibly deported...The 20th Party Congress...inspired our people to a wider and more consistent struggle for the restoration of our legal rights. Delegations of Crimean Tatars sat in Moscow for months, trying to get audience with N. S. Khrushchev. In 1957 a letter with 14,000 signatures of Crimean Tatars, and tens and thousands of individual letters, were sent to the Central Committee of the Party... On 17 March 1958 A. I. Mikoyan received our representatives and assured them that the Crimean Tatar question would be resolved and that he personally would report everything to N. S. Khrushchev...The answer to these letters and the result of this reception was police reprisals against the Communists who were in Moscow as our representatives...
In the Crimea the unbridled campaign of slander against our people is being strengthened. Throughout the whole country Crimean Tatars are being spoken of, with even greater cynicism than previously, as traitors. It has gone as far as our having been struck off the list of peoples of the USSR and the censor still does not allow the word "Crimean Tatar" to be written. But our people, armed with Marxist-Leninist theory and the decisions of the 20th Party Congress, continue to strive for the restoration of justice...Our representatives travelled to Moscow, where they handed over to the preparatory commission for the 22nd Party Congress a new letter with 8,000 signatures. Our representatives were thrown out of Moscow on precisely the day when the program of the Communist Party was proclaimed at the Congress and when the equality and fraternity of peoples was proclaimed... Immediately after the October plenum of the party Central Committee (in 1964) our national representatives again travelled to Moscow, and for sixteen months now they have been going daily to the reception rooms of the Central Committee, the USSR Supreme Soviet and the USSR Council of Ministers. During this comparatively short period 24 volumes of letters and documents, with more than 100,000 signatures, have been handed in to the Presidium of the Central Committee. Over this year and a half hundreds of thousands of individual letters have been sent to the Central Committee and the USSR Supreme Soviet. On behalf of the Presidium of the Central Committee A I. Mikoyan again, seven years later, received our representatives. He promised to report on the desires of our people to the Presidium.
As can be seen from the above, the question of the fate of our people, a question of great political and state importance, remains unresolved. But as the necessity of finding a solution derives completely from the Leninist principles of our political system, from the decisions of party congresses and from the program of our party, we are obliged to appeal to the 23rd Congress of the Communist Party...
Anyone who has the slightest degree of education knows that the Crimea is the national homeland of the Tatars, that the Crimean Tatars are a nation that was formed in the Crimea. The Crimea without the Crimean Tatars! That was the essence of the policy of the Tsarist autocracy. The Crimean Tatars clearly realized that Tsarism and the bourgeoisie were to blame for their tragic fate. In the Russian people they saw a powerful and true friend, a strong and honest ally in their struggle for liberation...*
Evaluating the international significance of giving autonomy to the indigenous population of the Crimea, V. I. Lenin said in February 1919, during a conversation with the chairman of the Crimean Revolutionary Committee, Yu. Gaven: "The national question demands the most thoughtful and careful consideration. Bear in mind that it is precisely on this question that many of us, us Bolsheviks, most often stray from the correct path...May the small Crimean Republic become one of the torches casting the light of the proletarian revolution towards the east." (The newspaper Red Crimea number 93/lOll, 23 April 1924)...The young Soviet republic made an historic appeal "To all the Moslems of Russia and tire East"...But not even 30 years had passed when in 1944 a number of national minorities, to whom this appeal had been addressed, were forcibly deprived of their homeland and their equal national rights. The revolutionary oath of the party was grossly violated.... Appealing solemnly to the 23rd Party Congress, we ask on what grounds were Lenin's teachings on the national question and the principles of worker's democracy thus violated?
1944 was a year of tribulations for the whole Soviet people, but for the deported and dispossessed peoples it was a year of mass destruction. A whole system for the cruel destruction of tens of thousands of people was thought out and implemented.
Tenzile Ibraimova, of 38 Ordzhonikidze St. in the town of Chirchik, writes as follows (we quote the letter word for word): "We were expelled from the village of Adzhiatmak in Fraidorf district on 18 May 1944. The expulsion took place very cruelly; at three o'clock in the morning, when the children were still asleep, some soldiers came in said that we should get ready and be out of the house in five minutes. We were not allowed to take with us either possessions or food. They treated us so roughly that we thought they were taking us to be shot. Once they'd chased us out of the village, they kept us hungry for several days; we were starving, but we were not allowed to go and take anything from our homes. The children were starved and cried continuously. My husband was fighting at the front; I was alone with three children.
"Eventually they loaded us into cars and took us to Evpatoriya. From there they loaded us like cattle into goods wagons, which were crammed to overflowing. After twenty-four days we arrived in Samarkand region, at the station of Zerubulak, and from there they took us off to the Khatychin district to the "Pravda" Collective Farm. They forced us to repair individual tent-type structures. We worked and starved. Many collapsed from hunger. From our village they had taken thirty families, of which five families remained alive, though not all their members. There remained one or two persons in each of the families; the rest had perished from hunger and illnesses.
"My niece, Menube Sheikhislamova, with eight to ten children, was deported with us, her husband had been in the Soviet Army from the first days of the war and had been killed. And the family of this fallen soldier perished of hunger in exile in Uzbekistan; only one little girl, Pera, remained alive, but she became a cripple, as a result of the horror she experienced and of hunger.
"Our menfolk were at the front and there was no-one to bury the dead; corpses would lie for several days among the living.
"Adzhigulsim Adzhimambetova's husband had been captured by the fascists. Three children, a little girl and two boys, remained with her. This family was also starving, just as we were. No one gave either material or moral help. As a result, first of all the little girl died of hunger, then, in one day, both the boys. Their mother could not move from starvation. Then the owner of the house threw the two children's bodies onto the street, onto the side of the irrigation canal. Then some children, Crimean Tatars, dug little graves and buried the poor boys.
"Can one really tell it all? I have such a weight on my heart that it's difficult to remember. Tell me, why did they allow such horrors to happen?
Tenzile Ibrimova, housewife"
...It is difficult to describe in words what happened in the place of "special resettlements." At first the Crimean Tatars did not even have any housing, in the human conception of the word... But still, the most dreadful thing was that we did not have any means of subsistence...**
Let all the conscious participators, instigators and sponsors of this barbarous act meditate upon these facts. And let all writers, historians and academics who have set out to justify this crime against humanity re-evaluate their foul creations. And all those who have announced and still announce that the reservations assigned to our people are a second homeland for uslet them evaluate the cynicism of their mockery of the rights of small peoples...All the means of propagandathe printed word, the radio, all the outposts of humanities, all oral agitation from university faculties to schools and nurseries, from the lecture-halls of the Central Committees of the Communist Parties to the cultural organizers and group leaders in holiday centers...all the levers operating on people's minds were directed to poisoning the consciousness of the peoples of the USSR with the fumes of chauvinism....
Let us do some summing up...Everything was done in order:
And when it was decided that all this had been accomplished, they announced that the Crimean Tatars were a non-existing nation. They struck us off the lists of people of the USSR, combining us with the Kazan and Ufa Tatars, but, to be on the safe side they left in every Crimean Tatar's internal passport a mea little mark by which the police can tell that you are not in fact from Kazan and so won't register you in the Crimea. Now it was possible to clap one's hands and shout from the rooftops about the inevitable and "voluntary" merging together of nations.
But when it seemed that the thing was settled and that there were no Crimean Tatars left, the remains of a once large people, many millions strong, sent its first representatives to Moscow.
In the town of Bekabad in the Tashkent region three Crimean Tatars were, without foundation, accused of hooliganism and sentenced to up to one year's imprisonment for the fact that as representatives of their nationality they had dared to appeal to the supreme party and state organs about their national question. One of these representatives, Khatidzhe Khairetdinova, had been among those received by the President of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet, Comrade A. I. Mikoyan, and Eskander Dzhemilev had travelled several times to the Central Committee of the party...
In Tashkent a meeting was recently held of the party activists of the republic. When the agenda was exhausted, the hour was unexpectedly given to a secretary of the Committee of the Uzbek Communist Party, R. N. Nishanov. Warning the stenographers not to record his speech, he lashed into the Crimean Tatars as "an obtuse people". "They want to go to the Crimea," said Nishanov, "but no one's waiting for them there. If they want to go away, then let them go home to Kazan." Then he called for drastic measures against those Crimean Tatars who travel to the party Central Committee seeking restoration of their national rights...the provocative onslaught of Nishanov has up till now remained unpunished. Moreover, his "directions" are being implemented in the localities. (This is followed by a list of numerous facts of discrimination against Crimean Tatars and an examination of the argument of those who oppose their return to the Crimea in view of its over-population, etc.).
Our demands may be reduced to the following:
Attempts to grant "cultural-national autonomy," or any solution of the question without return to the native territory, these are efforts to create the appearance of resolving our question, but are in essence an outright departure from the Leninist principle of how to resolve the question [subsequently the decree of 5 September 1967 proclaimed just such a solution. As the Crimean Tatars had "put down new roots," it recommended local organs to further their cultural and national developmentsee Chronicle 2].
We believe that our people will greet the 50th anniversary of Soviet authority in its native land, as an equal amongst equal fraternal peoples.
We sincerely wish 23rd Congress of our motherland's party success in solving the tasks facing it. We believe that the Congress will be a new landmark in the building of communism in our country.
The Crimean Tatar people has selected the representatives listed below to deliver our present appeal to 23rd Congress and to receive an answer in return. The term of authority of the representatives will last until the question of the national fate of the Crimean Tatar people has been resolved fully and positively.
The signatures of 65 people follow, including three activists of the movement convicted "for hooliganism" (mentioned above), three "Heroes of the Soviet Union" (one decorated twice), representatives of the intelligentsia, workers, peasants and military servicemen).
*Here follows a detailed and documented account of the role of the Crimean Tatars in the Revolution, in the Civil War, in pre-war cultural and economic development, in the 1941-45 war and in the partisan movement [Chronicle's note].
** Here follow detailed statistics on the number and composition of the exiled and of the mortaility rate, statistics which are all included in the later "Historical Data" (item 14 in this issue). [Chronicle's note].
Reproduced from: A Chronicle of Current Events, No. 31 (17 May 1974), pp. 139-143 (London: Amnesty International, 1975).
For background information, see: A Brief History of the Crimean Tatar National Movement by Mubeyyin B. Altan.