Jamala’s Victory

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I have learned not to blow Eurovision out of all proportion. However the victory which was gained by Susana Jamaladynova – by her stage name Jamala – is beyond getting the first place in a competition or singing a song in mother language in European stage.

I could not sleep the night I heard what happened in 18th of May, 1944 from my wife Elvina – who was not my wife that time yet – whose grandparents suffered from the same thing. Although I had never seen or heard,  I could not help hearing the voices or seeing the faces of Crimean Tatars who had been fiercely exiled from their homeland in one night.

Realizing my unawareness of a massive murder which was committed against my cognates right beside me – on the North coast of Black Sea which is just across my hometown Samsun – was as devastating as learning the sufferings.

Now, thanks to Jamala’s marvelous song and victory, a great number of people will learn about Crimean Tatar Exile in 1944.

Those who will hear Jamala’s scream at the end of the song will also hear the tearful screams of Crimean Tatar kids, ladies and elderlies who were savagely plucked off from their homeland while their brothers , fathers , husbands were fighting for Soviets whose commander – Stalin – was the person who signed the order of this massacre.

Jamala’s victory has not only made all Crimean Tatars proud but also has given them chance to be heard of. Just like Cengiz Dağcı, the most famous writer of their history thanks to whose novels millions of people have heard about Crimea and Crimean Tatars.

The dark history behind the song makes it a powerful message for everyone regardless of any nationality:

Music and words are much more powerful and long lasting than brutality.  Goodness will always win no matter how strong the latter is.


Crimean Tatars – The Struggle Of A Nation

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It is three o’clock at night. Your front door is being knocked on heavily. Not completely awake, you come closer to the door. When you open it, the soldier who breaks in tells you to get prepared to leave the house in 15 minutes. You are not aware that these are your last minutes in the house which you have been living in for years…

The entire Crimean Tatar population, an ethnic Turkic nation living in Crimea for centuries, were exiled from their own land on May the 18th , 1944 by Joseph Stalin on charges of collaborating with the Germans in WW2. After a very secret and planned preparation, soldiers carried out the order of Stalin to clear all Crimea from Crimean Tatars in one night.

Nearly half of the population, (approximately 125000 of 250000 consisting only women, kids and elderlies since the men had been fighting for Red Army,) starved or died of various illnesses due to the inhumanly conditions in livestock wagons which were carrying them to the deserts of Middle Asia and Ural Mountains.

All Crimean Tatar houses were given to Russian or Ukrainian settlers and village names were changed into Russian in one night. Books, cemeteries, anything related to Crimean Tatar existence were destroyed brutally by Soviets.

Crimean Tatars in exile were forced to work in Kolhozes, were prohibited from leaving their location, speaking their native Crimean Tatar language even mentioning their ethnic identity and their dreadful exile experience by strict rules, disobedience against which resulted in death or imprisonment in labour camps not less than 10 years.

After Stalin’s death, all nations who were exiled by Soviets, were allowed to return to their homeland except Crimean Tatars. Only after a long and painful struggle Crimean Tatars gained the right to rejoin their beloved homeland in 90’s.

Starting a new life in their own homeland was not easy as they were exposed to intense suppression from Russians and Ukrainians who captured their land and houses half a century ago.

After 72 years, Crimean Peninsula still remains its exclusive statue which can not be shared by Ukraine and Russia as Crimean Tatars, the indigenous inhabitants of Crimea, are too few in number to claim their independence in the land of their own ancestors.

Letter by Emre Seven

Elections In Turkey – The Country Of Dilemmas 

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Western or Eastern, European or Asian, modern or traditional, secular or religious? Having struggled between many opposing sides throughout their history, the Turkish people are struggling on the border of another dilemma nowadays: to go on with the ruling party which has been in charge for the last 13 years or to choose a new party to form the government as well as the country’s future.

Former elections in June left an impasse and no single party gained a governing majority, which was a great shock for the ruling AK Party which has lost its 13-year “one party” statue in spite of Erdoğan’s efforts during the election campaigns. Opposition parties and several institutions fired away at President Erdoğan accusing him of abusing his presidential power on behalf of the AK Party by asking “400 deputies ” from voters to change the constitution and to establish a presidential system.

Deprived of the majority but having the most of the votes, the AK Party’s new leader Davutoğlu had been asked to form a new government within 45 days by president Erdoğan, which failed after negotiations with other parties’ leaders. Following this, President Erdoğan used his right granted by Turkey’s Constitution and decided to hold a new election after the 45-day period expired without the formation of a government.

The parliamentary re-election on the 1st of November will result in not only party selection but also the people’s decision on Erdoğan’s presidency. If the AK Party gains at least 400 deputies and has the majority there is no doubt that the presidential system is going to be established and Erdoğan is going to be declared the supreme leader of the country. But if the result does not change, difficult times will start for the AK Party which may lead it to dissolution.

The decision is not so easy to be made as Turkish People are divided into two groups — as usual — on Erdoğan’s identity. His followers see him as an unquestionable Islamic and national hero who should be in charge with full authority while the others see him as the dictator head of a corrupted and kleptocratic regime who abuses his power and manipulates Islamic values.

But Erdoğan’s identity is not the only dilemma which complicates the situation for a Turkey which has been ruled by the same party for 13 years. On one hand the tarnished image of a ruling party with the claims of corruption and being over-oppressive and on the other hand an incompetent image of the other parties with bad reputations seem to confuse voters who see no obvious selection between the two.

Besides the unsolved mystery of the recent terrorist attacks and the inconsistent comments made by authorities on the Kurdish situation, there are other issues which will have a deep effect upon parliament’s formation depending on voters critical opinions on HDP, the party which has mainly but not only Kurdish but also leftist and even nationalist Turkish followers as well as strong haters and which won 80 deputies in the former election with the campaign against Erdoğan’s presidency and deprived the AK Party of the majority.

Turkey is getting through difficult times between political dilemmas. And the future does not seem to be easier.

Analysis by Emre Seven