World Bulletin/News Desk
Following the end of the Russo-Caucasian wars after 300 years, the people of the North Caucasus were driven on May 21, 1864 from the lands on which they had lived for thousands of years.
After this date, Circassian communities were dispersed to various countries in the world. A significant portion of the Circassians forced into mass deportation in 1864 died on the road, while many others died after arriving on the lands to which they were exiled due to problems such as disease, hunger and poverty.
Regarded as one of the largest mass population deportations in history, a great number of people lost their lives during the Circassian exile. Circassians had to go aboard sea vessels filled far beyond their carrying capacity. Ships took aboard an excessive number of passengers so as to increase financial gains, resulting in many ships sinking after a short distance of travel. To this day a large quantity of Circassians can be found who avoid consuming seafood products. Elderly Circassians refuse to consume fish, believing that “fish ate their ancestors, eating fish would entail eating their ancestors.”
At least one quarter of the population subjected to exile died during the journey or while adjusting to the living conditions in the new environments. The number of Circassians killed directly by Russians exceeds 500 thousand individuals.
CIRCASSIAN EXILE MEMORIAL IN ISTANBUL
During his speech in the program, President of the Federation of Circassian Associations Nusret Bas identified May 21 as "one of the world's largest genocides in,” stating that the Circassians were forced to leave their country in order to preserve their religion and culture.
Indicating the "Circassian genocide" is a matter of international, Bas said, “We are headed toward an understanding which that accept us as we are, which sees our matter as their own, which supports us in our effort to transmit our culture to the future. If we can organize and voice ourselves more loudly to our state rulers and government officials, I believe this will be a great support to us."
Stressing that they must have greater efforts to transmit Circassian identity and culture into the future, Bas continued:
"With hopes of being able to talk our language, to teach our children our own culture, we want to continuously repeat our priority request to the Government of the Republic of Turkey. The transmission of our culture to the future depends on broadcast television in Circassian. This will ensure Turkey as the center of the world’s Circassians. Secondly, we would like education in the mother tongue starting from the first grade of elementary school. 2 hours, 3 hours, 4 hours, however long... Because it is only given in the 5th and 6th grades. This is not enough. We want Circassian education from first grade onwards. And when we convey this through organization, I believe our elders will approach with sensitivity.”
INCIDENTS IN SOCHI SUMMARIZED: A DISTORTION
Arguing that the “genocide” implemented 149 years ago continues today, Istanbul Circassian Association Chairman Tuguj Halis Din said, “the Olympics to be held in Sochi are an example of this. The Olympics to be held in 2014 in the ancient capital of Circassia, with the tagline 'Gateway to the Future' and efforts to market it as Russian territory, are far from being ethical. The forgetting of the Circassian name in the introduction to the Olympic stage and other efforts is a summary of the incidents in Sochi thus far, historical distortion and cultural genocide.”
Specifying that Russia has been bringing up bureaucratic obstacles for Circassians seeking to return to their homeland after suffering in Syria over the last 2 years, Din explained that 10 thousands of Circassians living in Syria and wishing to escape from the civil war have been prevented from receiving visas.
Explaining that responsibility falls on Turkey and the whole world regarding the incidents on May 21, Din said, “”The expectation of Circassions, who have been engaged as a part of Turkey in every sort of situation since its founding, is that the Republic of Turkey now see this tragedy. Alongside this, the whole world must share this pain, and must not be blind, deaf and dumb like 149 years ago.”
Expressing that the persecution would not be forgotten, Gungoren Mayor Shakir Yucel Karaman stated that people must stand together in order to avoid any more such events.
Karaman said that location and logistic support would be supplied for the teaching of the Circassian language.
During the program, Circassian prayers were conducted and a cinevision show about the exile was presented.Last Mod: 21 Mayıs 2013, 16:04