Crimean Tatars are 'This Week’s Good Cause'
I am always amused when the wider world catches up with things I’ve known for decades. The inexcusable and savage deportation of Crimean Tatars by Stalin is one of the many bloodstained blots on that appalling man. Now, thanks to the Eurovision Song Contests’s award of first prize to a song on the subject by ‘Jamala’, the world has discovered it.
I first became broadly conscious of it in the late 1980s when Mikhail Gorbachev’s reformed Soviet state began to allow the descendants of the deportees to return to their former homes. This was long after the Soviet state had officially admitted (in 1967) that the deportations had been wrong.
As this was the USSR, this act was not accompanied by any great state generosity or efficiency, and I suspect it was often quite unpopular among Russians (and Ukrainians) in the Crimea who had to cope with the arrival of the returnees, never a simple matter even if the arrivals are positively saintly. Even so, it happened and there are now, I believe, more Tatars living in Crimea than before the deportations.
Soon afterwards the USSR fell to pieces and these events (like the plight of the Tatars, too little known) described here led to Crimea being forcibly prevented, in 1992, from leaving Ukraine, as many of its people wanted to do, having signed a petition in large numbers seeking a referendum, and been made, by threats of force, to abandon this plan.
There is a an interesting contrast between Ukraine’s menacing refusal to allow Crimea to decide its future, and Moscow’s complete willingness to allow Ukraine to decide *its* future. I am surprised so few people know about this or allow it to influence the general view of Ukraine as some sort of unimpeachable Saint Among Nations.
I have been able to find *nothing* anywhere, suggesting that the treatment of the Crimea Tatars by the Kiev government (corrupt, broke and inefficient) was in any way more generous, more kind, more anything, than it had been under the final years of the USSR. I would be grateful for any information on this. What is certain is that there is neither continuity nor comparison between Stalin’s Tatar policies and those of the Putin State. So what exactly is the current fuss about the Tatars intended to achieve or suggest?
There has certainly been some friction between the new Russian authorities and the Tatar leadership, since Russia seized Crimea in 2014, but this is the direct consequence of the decision of the Tatar leadership to attack the annexation. They are of course entitled to do so, though I’m not quite sure what their grounds are, They should be free to do so, but I must confess that I unsurprised that this has led to poor relations between the Tatar leadership and Moscow.
But I can’t help feeling that the Tatar cause is being used by Ukraine ( and perhaps others) to make easy trouble for Russia. Moscow’s post-2014 treatment of the Tatars may well be at fault, and there is certainly nasty evidence of repressive government in Crimea, but do those who laud ‘Jamala’ actually care about the Tatars? Are they for the Tatars? Or are they just against Russia?
Much of EU Europe has problems of one kind or another with poorly assimilated Muslim or non-Christian minorities. The Sinti and Roma in Slovakia and Hungary are, I believe, not always well-treated. Much of Western Europe, notably France and Germany, plus Sweden, is struggling to cope with the recent influx of Muslims from Asia, the Middle East or Africa, and will; struggle more in years to come, I suspect. Let us see how they get on. It would plainly be wrong to judge them on the basis that their predecessor governments, long ago, did unforgiveably dreadful things to some minorities. Wouldn’t it?
And then there is now. China, whose President we so recently entertained at Buckingham Palace, and on whose behalf our police barged into and arrested peaceful protestors in London, is not behaving in an exemplary fashion towards the Turkic Uighur Muslims of Sinkiang (Chinese Turkestan, as it was once more informatively known), and indeed is more or less reducing them to a minority in their own land while demolishing historic evidence of their culture (let us not even mention Tibet). You may read about this here.
Yet I never notice anyone making much fuss about this , or about the horrible fact that an entirely peaceful dissenter against these policies, Professor Ilham Tohti, has been flung into prison *for life* in China after a parody of a trial:
While his wife and two young sons were left destitute by the state seizure of his savings - with remarkably little protest from the righteous brigades who have so much to say about the wrongs of Russia.
Are those who chose to make the Tatars This Week’s Good Cause concerned about opposing injustice in general, or actually concerned about attacking Russia in particular? Let’s see if anyone writes a song about Professor Tohti and his poor penniless family, and it wins the Eurovision Song Contest.
Source: Daily Mail