World Bulletin: Circassians call on Turkey, Russia for rights, mourning massive exile

World Bulletin, News Desk - 25 May 2009

Exiled Circassians called on Turkey and Russia to help end what they call "historic unjustice".

Circassian people on Sunday mourned the "Massive Caucasian Exile", deporting about two million during the Russian Tsarist era in Istanbul march.

"May 21 Grand Caucasus Exile day" markes the exile of more than 1.5 milion Circassian people driven from their homeland after 300 years of war.

Caucasian civil society organizations in Istanbul gathered in Istanbul to say they would not forget what they call "the genocide" and "exile". Dressed traditional Caucasian clothing, people from all age groups carried banners to remind the tragedy and quietly walked to the Taksim Square.

On 21 May 1864, the Caucasian War ended with the occupation of Circassian land. The Czar approved a decision to deport and exile the entire Circassian people.

Gathered in front of Galatasaray High School in Istiklal Street, decendants of exiled Circassians walked to Taksim, then mourned for the tragedy on the Besiktas coast, throwed flowers to Bhosporus water.

The exiled group called on Turkey and Russia to help end what they call "historic unjustice" in a statement at Taksim square.

The group urged for rights to return to their homeland and dual citizenship.

According to the records, more than 1.5 million Circassian people were deported from their homeland to the Ottoman lands. 70 percent of the Caucasian population exiled. Tens of thousands of people perished because of hunger and diseases on the road. Since the exile, Caucasian diaspora try to live in different places where people live together and shared a common fate.

Today, with 800,000 population in the Caucasus homeland and 5 million Circassian people in Turkey, the whole population reaches the number of 8-9 million.

The group said "We, as the children of this tragic exile, did not forget what happened, because the tragedy continues. There are still attacks and wars in our homeland. We have difficulty in maintaining our identity against assimilation in diaspora. We're calling the world: Support us to protect our language, our culture and identity."

Source: World Bulletin