The sorrow of Meskhetian Turks: An unending exile

The 30th October is recognized as a day of remembrance for the catastrophic tragedy of the victims of Stalin’s dictatorial policies.

The sorrow of Meskhetian Turks: An unending exile

The affects of the former Soviet Union dictator Josef Stanlin's forced deportations of entire populations during his reign is still felt by millions in and on the outskirts of Russia today. This deportation policy, which was justified under the false pretense of national security, affects no community more than an ethnic Turkish population in the Caucasus, the Meskhetian Turks.

The 30th October is recognized as a day of remembrance for the catastrophic tragedy of the victims of Stalin’s dictatorial policies. Apart from the Meskhetian Turks, another Turkish Muslim community known as the Crimean Tatars, are also among the victims of these ruthless deportations. However, unlike the Crimean Turks, who have been able to return their homeland, the Meskhetian Turks have been reduced to nothing but a diaspora living outside of their homeland, which is located in southwestern Georgia.

Today, the Meskhetian Turks are widely dispersed throughout Russia and the former Soviet Union states, as well as in Turkey and the United States.

Stalin ordered the expulsion of the Meskhetian Turks during World War II, when the Soviet Union was preparing to put pressure on Turkey. Joseph Stalin wanted to clear the strategic Turkish population in Meskheti, who were likely to be hostile to Soviet goals.

Soviet confidential documents have revealed that the decision was personally signed by Stalin.

Decision of Committee of Defense


Highly confidential

31 July 1944, Moscow Kremlin

The Turkish Muslim population of Meshetya, around 86 thousand, is to be evacuated to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.

A few days following the decision, Meskhetian Turks were forced to leave their homeland without any warning. Soviet officials did not let them bring any private belongings and forced them onto trains carrying them to unknown destinations. During the deportations, thousands of Meskhetian Turks passed away due to poor nutrition and epidemic diseases. They were indiscriminately forced to work in camps. By the end of the first year after they were deported, half of their population had been lost.

Mission: Cleansing of Turks from Black Sea

The collapse of the Soviet Union led to the revelation of this hidden truth. As the Soviet diplomatic archives were opened, it was revealed that the mission to expel the Meskhetian Turks from their homeland was called the ‘Cleansing of Turks from Black Sea region’ in the highly confidential documents. It should also be kept in mind that Meskhetian Turks are the only ethnic community in the Soviet Union whose official name includes the term ‘Turk’. Although it is crystal clear that the expulsion of Meskhetian Turks from their homeland is a violation of human rights, the idea of their return home has not been welcomed.

Georgia, as a pre-condition of membership to the Council of Europe, promised in 1999 to facilitate the return of Meskhetian Turks to the country. Furthermore, both sides agreed to accomplish the returning of the Meskhetian Turks in a period of 12 years. However, there have been no concrete steps taken to initiate the process. Today, more than 300 thousand Meskhetian Turks are living in 4200 locations in 9 different countries away from their homeland.

Kuzey News Agency

Güncelleme Tarihi: 30 Ekim 2013, 13:36