80 years since the deportation of the Crimean Tatars

May 18 marks the 80th anniversary of the forced deportation of the Crimean Tatars. Today, they are once again being persecuted by the Russian occupying power. Norway reiterates its condemnation of Russia’s illegal occupation and human rights violations.

‘The Crimean Tatars were subjected to gross abuse under the Soviet regime. Now the Russian occupying power in Crimea is subjecting them to extensive human rights violations. "It is important that this story comes to light’, says Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide.  

‘Russia has an obligation under international law to safeguard the rights of the Crimean Tatars and others . Norway has repeatedly condemned Russia's human rights violations and illegal occupation of the Crimean Peninsula. We demand that Russia as an occupying power stops the human rights violations’, says Eide.  

The Crimean Tatars originally made up over 90% of the population of the Crimean Peninsula. After Russia forcibly annexed the peninsula in 1793, the Crimean Tatars were subjected to systematic oppression. This continued under the totalitarian Soviet regime. Their language and religion were put under pressure, and they were deprived of land and property, while Russians and Ukrainians were moved to the Crimean Peninsula. This colonization policy culminated in the deportation of the Crimean Tatars in May 1944.   

In May 1944, the Crimean Tatars were forcibly deported by the Stalin regime. While the Crimean Tatar men fought in the Red Army, the remaining Crimean Tatars , mainly women, children and elderly men, were brutally deported without warning. They were crammed into freight wagons with no idea where they were going, with only minimal luggage. The journey lasted for two to three weeks, under terrible conditions. Thousands died of hunger and disease. Most ended up in Uzbekistan in Central Asia, where they were interned in very poor conditions, which led to many more deaths.   

It wasn't until the late 1980s, and especially after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, that many Crimean Tatars were able to return. With Russia's occupation of Crimea in 2014, they are now once again subject to widespread human rights violations, including arbitrary detention and forced recruitment. The Mejlis, the Crimean Tatar executive body, has been banned.