On May 18, 1944, Soviet leader Josef Stalin forcibly deported all 240,000 Crimean Tatars to Central Asia. Over 100,000 died. Today, we commemorate the victims of this unspeakable crime.
Among those that survived was the legendary Mustafa Dzhemilev. He spent decades demanding that his people be allowed to return to their homeland and as a result, he spent 18 years in the Soviet gulag.
Mr. Dzhemilev is the recognized leader of the Crimean Tatar National Movement and a Member of Parliament of Ukraine. I am honored to say that he is here with us today in the Legislature. " Hosh kal' deeneez, Mustafa agha!" "welcome, Mustafa"!
Two years ago, Russia once again invaded Crimea. The Russian regime is once again persecuting the Crimean Tatar people. They have closed their mosques, closed their media and closed the Majlis, their legislature. The Crimean Tatar people are now facing persecution, disappearances and executions.
Mr. Dzhemilev’s own son has been put in jail and Mr. Dzhemilev is now, once again, banned from returning home.
History is repeating itself Mr Speaker.
Just this week, Crimean Tatar singer Jamala represented Ukraine at the Eurovision song contest. She performed a song about the 1944 deportations. Jamala moved and inspired millions. Jamala won Eurovision.
I am proud that today Ontario was the first jurisdiction in Canada to officially raise the Crimean Tatar Flag at the legislature.
We fly the flag here today, to commemorate the victims of the 1944 deportation. Let us remember and commemorate them, but let us also take this opportunity to learn history’s lessons and redouble our efforts to ensure that the Crimean Tatar people can once again live in freedom, in Crimea as part of a free and independent Ukraine.
Mr. Dzhmilev, the Crimean Tatar people and the hundreds of thousands of victims of the 1944 deportation deserve no less.
Slava Krymskym Tataram. Yashasin Qirim Tatarlar
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