Statement by Minister of Foreign Affairs on 80th anniversary of deportation of Crimean Tatars


May 18, 2024 - Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada

The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement:

“Today marks 80 years since the forced deportation of Crimean Tatars from their homeland. Between May 18 and 20, 1944, around 200,000 Crimean Tatars were forcibly removed from Crimea by the Stalin regime to far-flung parts of the Soviet Union. They were deported in horrific conditions; approximately 8,000 people died in transport. Survivors were resettled in harsh environments; nearly half perished within three years. Meanwhile in Crimea, the Soviets destroyed Tatar mosques and replaced Tatar place names with Soviet ones in an attempt to erase the history of the Crimean Tatars on the peninsula.

“Canada honours the memory of those who suffered and died in the deportation, those who bravely resisted and those who eventually returned home.

“We also acknowledge the echoes of this terrible event in Russia’s persecution of Crimean Tartars since it began its illegal occupation of Crimea in 2014. Those who oppose the annexation and express dissent have been especially targeted, detained or disappeared. Russia escalated its repression as it launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022. As was the case in 1944, Russia is determined to severely limit the human rights and attack the history, language, identity, culture and education of Crimean Tartars.

“Russia’s actions in Crimea today fit its historical pattern of targeting and displacing peoples and erasing their cultures while using disinformation to justify its assaults on its neighbours. We cannot let Russia target yet another generation of Crimean Tatars. Today, we remember those who were deported 80 years ago, while reaffirming our steadfast support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”


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