68th anniversary of Ahiska Turks' deportation commemorated
19 November 2012 / HASAN KARALI, İSTANBUL
The 68th anniversary of the deportation of Ahiska Turks from Meskheti,
Georgia, to Central Asia in 1944 was commemorated on Sunday with the
participation of many Ahiska Turks who are still waiting to return to
A commemoration ceremony was held at İstanbul's Çemberlitaş Fırat
Culture Center (FKM) for Ahiska Turks who were forced to leave their
homes in the Georgian city of Meskheti in 1944 and who have since been
unable to return.
Various problems that Ahiska Turks experience, primarily regarding the
delay in their return to their Georgian homeland, were addressed
during the event, organized by the Ahiska Students Alumni Association
In the commemoration's opening speech, AHİMED General Coordinator
Rüstem Alioğlu described the atrocities carried out by Russia in 1944
to protect its interests in the Meskheti region. Alioğlu expressed
hope that the Ahiska Turks would soon be able to return home.
A panel discussion titled "Meskhetian Turks: Past, Present and Future"
was held following Alioğlu's speech. Following the discussion, Dr.
Ahmet Niyazov, an academic from Baku Islamic University, briefed
attendees on the social and cultural life of Ahiska Turks.
Habibullah Mürsel, president of the All Ahiska Turks Social Economic
Cooperation and Solidarity Association (TASİYAD), also gave a speech
during the event in which he also highlighted the atrocities suffered
by the Ahiska Turks at the hands of Russia in the 1940s. He said that
over 120,000 Ahiska Turks from 220 villages were loaded into cattle
cars and shipped to various locations, thousands of kilometers away,
in one night. These people were exiled from their lands just because
they were Turkish. Many Ahiska Turks died during that deportation.
The Ahiska Turks, also known as Meskhetian Turks, found themselves in
Georgia when the border between Turkey and the Soviet Union was drawn
under the Moscow Agreement of March 16, 1921. Concerned with the
rapprochement between Turkey and the Meskhetian Turks, the Moscow
administration deported between 120,000 and 140,000 people to Central
Asia on the night of Nov. 15, 1944, leading to the current Meskhetian
Turk question. Currently, 500,000 Meskhetian Turks who live in the
former Soviet Republics, including Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan,
Kyrgyzstan and the Russian Federation, are unable to return to their
land of origin in Georgia; they are also denied citizenship in their
current countries of residence. As such, Meskhetian Turks constitute
the only people denied return to their homeland in the former Soviet