Until the beginning of the 18th century, Crimean Tatars were known for regular devastating forays into Ukraine and Russia. For a long time, until the early 18th century, Crimean Khanate maintained a massive slave trade with the Ottoman Empire and the Middle East which was one of the fundaments of its economy.
One of the most known and important trading ports and slave markets was Kefe. Some researchers estimate that altogether more than 3 million people, predominantly Ukrainians but also Russians, Belarusians and Poles, were captured and enslaved during the time of the Crimean Khanate in what was called "the harvest of the steppe".A constant threat from Crimean Tatars substantiated the appearance of the Cossack who often responsed with similar raids into Crimea
In the Soviet Union: 1917-1991
Soviet collectivization of the peninsula led to widespread starvation in 1921. Food was confiscated for shipment to central Russia, while more than 100,000 Tatars starved to death, and tens of thousands fled to Turkey or Romania.Thousands more were deported or slaughtered during the collectivization in 1928-29.The government political campaign led to another famine in 1931-33. No other Soviet nationality suffered the decline imposed on the Crimean Tatars; between 1917 and 1933 half of the population had been killed or deported.
During World War II, the entire Tatar population in Crimea fell victim to Soviet policies. Although a great number of the men served in the Red Army and took part in the partisan movement in Crimea during the war, the existence of the Tatar Legion in the Nazi army and the collaboration of Crimean Tatar religious and political leaders with Hitler during the German occupation of Crimea provided the Soviets with a pretext for accusing the whole Crimean Tatar population of being Nazi collaborators. All were deported en masse, in a form of collective punishment, on 18 May 1944 as special settlers to Uzbek SSR and other distant parts of the Soviet Union. Acording to Sovit History which describes the resettlement of the Crimean Tatars"as a very humane procedure but the reality described by the victims in their memoirs was different. 46.3% of the resettled population died of diseases and malnutrition. This event is called Sürgün in the their language. Many of them were re-located to toil as indentured workers in the Soviet GULAG system.
In 1967 the Soviet Union passed a decree removing any charges against Crimean Tatars, the Soviet government did nothing to help their resettlement in Crimea and to make amends for lost lives and the seized property. Crimean Tatars, differing from other Soviet nations like Ukrainians, having definite tradition of non-communist political dissent, succeeded in creating a truly independent network of activists, values and political experience. These people led by Crimean Tatar National Movement Organization were not allowed to return to Crimea from exile until the beginning of the Perestroika in the mid 1980s.
After Ukrainian independence
Today, more than 250,000 have returned to their homeland, struggling to re-establish their lives and reclaim their national and cultural rights against many social and economic difficulties. In 1991, the leadership founded the Qurultay, or Parliament, to act as a representative body so that they could address grievances to the Ukrainian central government, the Crimean government, and international bodies.
* Today 150,000 remain in exile in Central Asia, mainly in Uzbekistan. There are 1,000,000 people of Crimean Tatar origin living in Turkey, descendants of those who emigrated in the 19th and early 20th centuries . In the Dobruja region of Romania and Bulgaria, there are more than 27,000, 24,000 on the Romanian side, and 3,000 on the Bulgarian side.
CRIMEAN TATAR TRADITIONAL MUSIC
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