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The Arabat Tragedy I: New Facts about
the Mass Deportation of the Crimean Tatars *

It is an established fact that the entire Crimean Tatar population was deported on May 18, 1944. However, according to a recent article published in Lenin Bayragi on July 7,1990, due to an oversight, the Crimean Tatar residents of several villages along the narrow strip of Arabat in the Azov Sea were untouched. When this mistake was discovered, Stalin's henchmen were given two hours to correct their mistake, and in a matter of hours these innocent Crimean Tatars were brutally massacred.

The following is the translation of the aforementioned article originally written by Yunus Mirgaziyan in the Kazan Tatar journal, Kazan Utlari:

By Yunus Mirgaziyan

The heaviest bombs to destroy the Tatar language, in my opinion, were dropped on Crimean Tatars. The entire population who fought bravely to defend the motherland, was slandered with the allegation of being traitors, and deported from their places of birth. I am a witness of this tragedy… I want to touch upon an incident of the mass deportation of the Crimean Tatars.

On July 19, 1944, one of the leaders of this genocide, Bogdan Kabulov reports to L.P. Beria that 'the Crimea is cleansed of Tatars.' Beria relays this news to Stalin right at that moment. Thousands of participants of this 'successful' operation were being decorated with medals. During this 'victory' banquet Kobulov was told: "We forgot to deport those Crimean Tatars in the villages on the strip of Arabat." They were the fishermen and the salt miners living in those villages on the strip that separates Sivash from the Sea of Azov. It was obvious that men of the village were fighting in fronts. The majority of these villagers were women and children.

Kobulov orders: "If a single Tatar remains alive in two hours, your heads will roll." Beria's fascist henchman was told that it was impossible to round up all the Tatars in two hours in an area that stretches one hundred kilometers. Stalin's henchmen were finally given 24 hours to accomplish their mission.

They took an old boat (barge) from the port of Genicsek, rounded all the Crimean Tatars up from Arabat, loaded them on this old boat. Then they took them to the deepest section of the Azov Sea and opened the Kingston (the cap on the hole of the sub-water part of the boat). The boat full of our fellow Crimean Tatars sunk to the bottom. The murderers waited nearby with their machine guns, waited for the boat to sink.

While this genocide was taking place, most of the Kazan Tatars were trying to deny they were related to Crimean Tatars. "Crimean Tatars are totally different people than us. We have no blood relations with them, we are not brothers." Those were the ugly moments. I am sure that there are some among us who really understood the ancient policy of 'divide and rule' initiated by Tsar Ivan the Terrible. This ancient policy became even stronger after the mass deportation of the Crimean Tatars. During the colonial rule, those who were ready to betray their people were given comfortable jobs. So a new class of workers from such traitors were trained in cultural, scientific and educational fields. Thus betraying your own people became a profitable business. These people were instrumental in turning us against the Crimean Tatar people.

Translated into English by Mubeyyin Batu Altan

* First published in Crimean Review, Vol. 5, No. 2, 1990.

Posted: December 2012


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