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May 18, 2010

It is a horrendous event when one loses one's parents, or siblings, or children. That pain stays with one forever and its trauma burns a hole in one's heart. Losing one's home and all the belongings in it also is a terrible thing to happen to anyone. How about being forced to leave the one and only homeland one was born and grew up in? How much incurable pain does that cause in one's soul and psyche? On May 18, 2010, this is what we need to remember; the pain and suffering Crimean Tatars as an entire nation endured 66 years ago. We should also remember that regardless of their horrible faith on that dark day of deportation, Crimean Tatars were not defeated. As decades passed in exile, they did not give up; they kept their honor, and their persistent passion for their homeland. Their narratives were handed down to newer generations who also developed an eternal flame in their hearts for a land they had never seen before. Through their passion and persistence, most of the Crimean Tatars were able to return home, their ancestral Crimea, after 47 years in exile.

Of course almost all the returnees cry when they talk about their parents, relatives, siblings, or friends who died either on trains or in "Commander's camps," where they were imprisoned for 12 years just because they were Crimean Tatars. They remember those days as if it was yesterday and feel so much pain. Yet, through that sorrow, they also find courage. They find strength. They continue to resist to injustices, value their families, and their cherished homeland. They celebrate birthdays, they work, they wed, and they live. Each year on May 18, they also gather at Simferopol's central square and commemorate that day of trauma (Kara gun), the day of Surgun. Their counterparts, Diaspora Crimean Tatars also commemorate the day of deportation with prayers, ceremonies, and gatherings all over the world.

Today, I did not tell you about the details of Surgun (deportation). I did not want to preach to the choir. As I sat in front of my computer, I silently wept and prayed for all who unnecessarily lost their lives, their homes, and their beloved homeland 66 years ago just because they were Crimean Tatars. I remembered all Crimean Tatars who suffered an enormous loss because of the deportation. I hope we all take a moment today and imagine how much they suffered and yet how much they accomplished. I hope through the sadness, we also find joy and celebrate Crimean Tatars who are devoted to peace and nonviolence regardless of many obstacles they continue to face in Crimea.

Idil P. Izmirli, Ph.D.
President of ICC
Springfield, Virginia

Posted: 30 May 2010

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