President of Ukraine

Address by the President of Ukraine on the occasion of the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the Crimean Tatar Genocide

18 May 2022 - 13:52

Address by the President of Ukraine on the occasion of the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the Crimean Tatar Genocide

Dear citizens!

All our great people!

On this day last year, I said we would be back. Return to Crimea. Every year on May 18, Ukraine commemorates the victims of the genocide of the Crimean Tatar people. The people whom they wanted to deprive of their homeland. The people whom they wanted to deprive of their lives. The people whose history and whose name they wanted to erase. But the people who managed to return home. Managed to preserve themselves and the truth.

On May 18, 1944, the Soviet authorities began the forced deportation of the indigenous people of Crimea, the Crimean Tatars, from their only homeland. After the terrible war that took place in Crimea, as well as throughout Ukraine, as well as throughout Europe, the whole people was then put on the brink of survival.

During and after the deportation, when the Crimean Tatar people were forced to live abroad, almost half of the IDPs died. Almost half the people! It was a deliberate crime of tyranny against the people and against humanity as such.

Today we turn again to what was experienced then. And we are doing this in conditions when the descendants of that tyranny are not only trying to deprive Crimean Tatars of their home for the second time - since 2014. They also want to take away the home of the entire multi-million Ukrainian people - all who live on our land.

Significant territories are under the occupation of the Russian army. There are so-called filtration camps, through which hundreds of thousands of people pass. The occupiers are destroying our cities, our villages. They forced more than 12 million Ukrainian men and women to leave their home. And again, like 78 years ago, they are forcibly deporting hundreds of thousands of our people abroad to remote areas.

Last year, on May 18, addressing the people, I recalled the lines of the Crimean Tatar poetess Lilya Budzhurova "When we return":

When all our people return home / You will have to remember where we were born / You will have to remember where you yourself were born / Showed up as uninvited guests here.

And this year, in the days of this war, we prove: Ukraine is really coming back. The truth is coming back. And people are coming back.

A full-scale invasion of Russia, inspired by the worst the world has seen in the 1940s, raises from ashes the experience of that time.

However, it encourages us to return these occupiers to what all anti-human regimes ultimately go through, namely, their defeat.

The territory of the northern regions of our state has already been liberated. We are returning the Kharkiv region. Defenders of our state are repelling the most desperate efforts of the occupiers in Donbas. The Armed Forces of Ukraine simultaneously repel the attacks of Russian troops in the south. We defend Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv, Odesa. And we remember every city and every community that is still under occupation. I always emphasize: under temporary occupation. And, of course, we remember Crimea.

The occupying forces have already suffered such defeats in Ukraine that Russia has not seen in various wars for decades. Poisoned by state propaganda, many Russians are simply unaware of this yet. They do not want to see how big their losses are - in different senses of the word. People, economy, culture, future.

But life will make them feel these losses.

In 1944, expelling the Crimean Tatars from their land, the then torturers were convinced that none of the displaced would return home, to Crimea.

Now, trying to occupy Ukraine and destroy our lives, the current torturers of the people were also convinced that everything would work out for them and that we would not be able to endure it.

And we endured. And we are struggling to bring life back to every corner of our home. And we are coming back.

Today, on this very day, I am signing the law "On Social and Legal Protection of Persons Deprived of Personal Freedom as a Result of Armed Aggression against Ukraine and Members of Their Families" adopted by the Verkhovna Rada.

This law is to protect all those ordinary peaceful, civilian people who have been repressed by the occupiers and who have been taken prisoner by them.

This law is, in particular, for Nariman Dzhelyalov and many others who are deprived of their liberty by strangers in Crimea, in their native home. For those who are being held in prisons on the peninsula and who have been deported to Russia. This law is for the relatives and friends of all prisoners of the Kremlin - in Donetsk, Luhansk, in all those areas, and in Crimea. For all who have been tormented by the enemy.

This is help and protection.

And we will definitely restore justice.

Qırım serbest olacaq!

Eternal memory to all victims of the genocide of the Crimean Tatar people!