On the 18th -20th of May 1944 almost 200,000 Crimean Tatars, indigenous peoples of Crimea, were deported to Central Asia for alleged collaboration with occupant regime during II world war. New generation knew about Crimea only from parents’ and grandparents’ stories.
Crimean Tatars started coming back to their land in late ’80, when Soviet Union was already crumbling. They left houses, jobs and everything else to return to Crimea, their historical homeland. In the following years they were slowly rebuilding their lives in the peninsula.
In march 2014, as a result of a referendum, which is not recognized internationally, Crimea was annexed by Russian Federation. Most of Crimean Tatars boycotted the referendum. Fearing repressions, discrimination or simply disagreeing with the new reality under Russian flag many of them left the peninsula. It is estimated that around 20,000 Crimean Tatars became IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons).
Time has passed and there is no sign of possibility of reversing Russia’s annexation. Crimean Tatars, who are IDPs, live dispersed around Ukraine. Small, religious community of around 20 families found refuge in postindustrial Drohobych. Live goes on over there, but in their mind they are in Crimea: they check the weather in the peninsula, contact family members and friends who didn’t leave, follow information about another house searches and arrests of Crimean Tatars, who openly disagree with the new reality.
After six years of protracted internal displacement Crimean Tatars know that the return won’t happen soon, but they are sure one day it will. That patience and resistance has been inhabited from their ancestors. They take care of preserving their identity by cultivating customs and traditions. Children again grow up listening stories about Crimea.
Haytarma is a name of traditional Crimean Tatar dance, which can be translated as a “return”.
The project was consulted during Sputnik Photos Mentorship Programme.