How the Crimean Tatar people live in Putin’s Crimea (2014-2023)

In 2014, when Russian troops occupied Crimea, the Crimean Tatars were among the most ardent opponents of Russia’s invasion of their homeland. 

Since then, Crimean Tatars have been paying a high price for our disobedience.

“Crimean Tatars live in fear,” “As occupation, all our fears, all the tragedies that our people have suffered since 1944, have resurrec up.”

Crimean Tatars – and these are mainly Muslims of Turkic origin – make up about 12 percent of the two million population of Crimea.

In May 1944, by order of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, the entire Crimean Tatar population was deported “for sympathy for Nazi Germany. Entire families were loaded into railway cars to transport livestock and went to Central Asia. 46,3 % of Crimean Tatars died as a result of this deportation.

Crimean Tatars were  imagined “fully rehabilitated”  in 1967, deportation remains a great trauma for the Crimean Tatars, many of whom still associate Russian rule with oppression and suffering.

Persecution of Crimean Tatars began soon after the Russian invasion of Crimea in 2014. Activists and protesters are harassed, threatened, imprisoned for 15 years, and in some cases even kidnapped in broad daylight. On 15 March 2014, the mutilated body of Reshat Ametov, a Crimean Tatar who was abducted while peacefully demonstrating against the Russian occupation, was found outside Simferopol.He was buried on 18 March, the day Putin triumphantly announced the annexation of Crimea, promising to protect all ethnic groups on the peninsula. Ametov’s murder sent shockwaves through the Crimean Tatar people. This is when we became really scared,“We felt and feel  scared and completely unprotected of our people. Over the next year, more than 30 Crimean Tatars went missing. At least six of them, including Ametov, have since turned up dead. Others remain unaccounted  for. 

At the same time, russia  was quick to crack down on Crimean Tatars’ distinctive  culture and sense of identity. Because of the risk of repression, we Crimean Tatar people can only express our family anger and pain in closed circles.

A new Russian law imposing  prison sentences of up to 15 years for disseminating  information that contradicts  the authorities’ view of the war in Ukraine has made dissent  in Crimea even more dangerous.

Now the same Auschwitz is taking place in Crimea, Crimean Tatars are being killed and prisons for religious and political reasons, ethnic purges, repressions of the indigenous people.

Today there are more Crimean Tatar political prisoners than Russian political prisoners, there are 300 thousand of us and 146 million Russians. More than 1000 children were left without fathers.

Crimean Tatar media outlets were shut down or turned into Russian-language Kremlin mouthpieces. The Crimean Tatar language all but disappeared from the public sphere. The Mejlis, the representative body of the Crimean Tatars, was declared  “extremist” and disbanded, and its leaders were forced into exile.

In one of the most painful blows to Crimean Tatars people were banned from marking the anniversary of our people’s Stalin-era genocide.

For 30 years we had gathered on squares in our cities to pay tribute  to the victims,” “Today we are no longer allowed to hold   these commemorations. We can’t even grieve гand honour our dead.”

Putin’s current war against Ukraine is a devastating reminder of the invasion of Crimea nine years ago, which  we believe paved the way for today’s tragedy.

Due to the risk of reprisals, Crimean Tatars  can only express in their family  anger and pain in private circles.

A new Russian law imposing  prison terms of up to 15 years for spreading information that contradicts  the authorities’ narrative about the war in Ukraine has made dissent even more dangerous in Crimea.

“Crimean Tatars  want to scream but we need to keep silent,”. “Our people  are locked up.