KIEV, Ukraine (AA) – Ukrainian Foreign Ministry called on the international community Thursday to apply pressure on Russia to stop the repression of Crimean Tatars in the annexed peninsula.
In a message posted in the Ukrainian language on her official Twitter account, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mariana Betsa said: “We call on the international community to keep pressuring the occupying Russian authority to prevent the repetition of the tragedy of 1944.”
Betsa also called on Russia to stop its persecution of Crimean Tatars.
Crimean lawyer Emil Kurbedinov on his Facebook page shared that raids were being carried out on the homes of Crimean Tatars.
Journalist Sevket Namatullayev said some Tatars had been taken to counter-terrorism centers following raids to their homes in the Crimean city, Simferopol.
The Supreme Court of Crimea banned in April the main assembly of Crimean Tatars, known as the Mejlis, branding it as an "extremist organization".
Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, as well as the Turkish Foreign Ministry, condemned the move as a violation of human rights and part of a continued campaign of “intimidation and oppression.”
On May 18, 1944, Joseph Stalin’s Soviet government began the deportation of tens of thousands of Crimean Tatars to Central Asia, accusing them of collaborating with occupying Nazi forces.
Around 180,000 people were deported to various regions within the Soviet territory, in particular Siberia and Uzbekistan. Almost half of the exiles, who endured months of dire living conditions, are thought to have died of starvation and disease.
This 30-year exile continued until 1987, when the Soviet government allowed 2,300 Crimean Tatars to return to their homeland. Another 19,300 people followed in 1988.