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ESKENDER FAZIL (1934-2003): A Voice of the Crimean Tatars
Mubeyyin B. Altan
The Crimean Tatars lost one of their talented and determined poet and writer on February 27, 2003. Author of several collections of poems and short stories , Eskender Fazil, like many Crimean Tatar intellectuals, had dedicated himself to the national movement of his people at a very young age. As Bilal Mambet  wrote in his introduction of Eskender Aga's last book Secde [Prostration], he traveled to Crimea at the age of 14 in 1948, at the height of the Crimean Tatar persecution, to bring some water from a spring in his hometown Tavbadrak, near Bahcesaray. He returned with two bottles of spring water and presented to his ill father and then watched his father die a happy man after drinking the hometown water.
Watching the early video tapes of the Movement one sees Eskender Fazil delivering a speech to predominantly Russian audience, and then again addressing his people to inform them about the status of the Crimean Tatar National Movement on many occasions. He was always ready to be the voice of his people, which he was. I personally met Eskender Fazil when he and Mustafa Cemilev visited Harvard University in 1990 and had a long heated conversation with Eskender and Mustafa Cemilev about the status of the Crimean Tatars, which is one of my most memorable encounters. Eskender Aga stayed in New York City for about three months and was honored by the Crimean Tatar Community for all he had done for his people. Like many of the veterans of Crimean Tatar National Movement, he was an educated, talented and strongly dedicated son of Crimea. Eskender Fazil was indeed a true veteran of the Crimean Tatar National Movement, a true hero of the Crimean Tatar people who will always be remembered. Eskender Fazil passed away on February 27, 2003, in his beloved Crimea, still longing for a united Crimean Tatar nation. Allah Rahmet Eylesin! May Allah's blessings be upon him!
SECDESecde [Prostration] is Eskender Fazil's last collection of poems, published in 1999 by Tavriya Publications in Akmescit (Simferopol), Crimea. It is a collection of poems written in different years and in different locations. Eskender Fazil expresses his philosophy in life as well as his anger and frustration about the struggle of his people. In "Mayis 18 de" [On May 18], for example, he expresses how angry he feels towards the Soviet authorities and says:
You dragged my innocent childhood years,
On tip of your bayonets!
On May 18 (1944) without fear of God,
You plowed my blooming orchards, you did!
He dedicated some of his poems to well known Crimean Tatars such as Ismail Bey Gaspirali and Musa Mamut. In his poem "Birlik" [Unity], dedicated to Ismail Bey Gasprali, father of Crimean Tatar intellectuals, Eskender Aga states:
It is pitch dark in Russia. Tatar cries,
To escape from oppression, he tries.
Ignorance and helplessness limp on,
The Language and Ideas they club on.
Born in nineteen hundred and fifty one, in Avcikoy 
Along with all the passionately written poems, Secde also includes an epic poem "Vay Vay Anam! Kayasi" [The rock of Oh! Mother Oh!]. This twenty-five page long epic poem about a Crimean Tatar legend , is Eskender Fazil's longest poem in the aformentioned collection. It is quite unfortunate that we no longer have the opportunity to hear Eskender Fazil, a talented son of Crimea, recite his eloquent poems. But we have the opportunity to read this nicely written collection. The entire book is an eloquent example of Crimean Tatar poetry which should be read by our Crimean Tatar-speaking members, friends and others.
The following selected poems are from Fazil's last collection of poems, Secde, written in Crimean Tatar and translated by Mubeyyin B. Altan:
STAND UP! [KALK AYAKKA!]
You are a small nationality, your rich history
By depriving you, your rights and justice,
The angry and wild Black Sea roared,
Yes, they ordered: "Let no Crimean Tatar trace remain!"
Despite your burial grounds are filled with martyrs,
Stand up! Lift your bowed head!
Stand up! Motherland is calling you to return!
BUT LOOK... [AMMA BAK YA...]
Our destiny is written on dark pages:
Deported from their motherland and tormented,
They endured thousands of obstacles,
In many different lands they were forced to settle,
Strong enough to squeeze water out of stone,
(Crimean) Tatars, of course, will always be Tatars,
New York, 1990
I was deported, but crying you remained
Forgive me! I bow down to my past,
The wound of longing is always throbbing,
You come alive before my eyes,
How curious, how interesting, the foreign tongues,
 Melevse [Violet],1970; Kart Emin [Old Man Emin],1976; Temenna [(My) Wish], 1982; and Secde [Prostration],1999, are his collections of poems. He also published a collection of short stories in 1988 titled Kollarindan Opeyim [Let Me Kiss Your Hands].
 Bilal Mambet's introduction in Secde.
 Sen menim gunahsiz balalik cagimni
 Ismail Gaspirali's birthplace.
 Rusiye - dim karanlikta. Tatar aglay,
Bin sekiz yuz elli birde, Avcikoyde,
 According to this legend, as explained by M. S. Soy in a brief article in Kirim, (Vol.1, No. 1 January, 1957, pp. 25-26), Topal bey, a mean spirited land owner kidnaps the wife and a beautiful daughter of a man named Kemal who happened to be away fighting in Khan's army. Despite all his attempts, Topal Bey fails to seduce these two women. He gets so frustrated and angry that he decides to bury them alive by carving graves in two separate rocks. Then the local population begins hearing voices coming from these rocks near the village of Mustafa Bey on the banks of Kaci River. The ghosts in the shape of a beautiful woman said to appear in the area. The mean Topal Bey then orders his men to destroy these two rocks, but they can not. Topal Bey's men, while trying to destroy these rocks, hear a voice crying "Vay Vay Anam!" [Oh, mother oh!]. Therefore it is named "Vay Vay Anam! Rock," and the mother's voice is heard as she answers her daughter: "Korkma Balam!" [Don't be afraid, my dear!] And it is named "Don't Be Afraid, Dear! Rock." After his attempt to destroy these rocks fail, Topal Bey and all his men turn to stones, therefore, no longer able to harm the innocent villagers. So goes the legend.
 The legendary mountain in southern Crimea.
 "Xaytarma" is the national dance of the Crimean Tatars.
 "Kalakay" is a special bread made of dough.
 "Çibörek" is a deep-fried Crimean Tatar national meat pie.