On Friday, Nov. 4, 2016, Member of Parliament Kerry Diotte started second reading of Bill C-306, Crimean Tatar Deportation (“Sürgünlik”) Memorial Day Act in the House of Commons.
MP James Bezan seconded the bill and urged all Parliamentarians to recognize the grave human rights abuses and to forbid history from repeating itself by supporting Bill C-306.
The intention of Bill C-306 is to recognize the mass deportation of the Crimean Tatars in 1944 as an act of genocide and establish a national memorial day.
In 1944, the Soviet regime under Josef Stalin ripped hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children from their homes in Crimea, and sent them into permanent exile simply on the basis of their ethnicity and religion.
“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” said Bezan echoing the words of Sir Winston Churchill.
“The mass deportation occurred over two days, Soviet agents forced all of the Tatars into cattle cars, onto trains, and onto barges and deported them to gulags in Uzbekistan, where they were put into forced labour camps. Half of them died of starvation,” he added.
“As we think of the persecution imposed on the Crimean Tatars in 1944, we are eerily reminded of the plights they are faced with today,” said Bezan.
In 2014, Russian president, Vladmir Putin, illegally annexed the Ukrainian territory of Crimea, where the Tatars are the indigenous population.
“The Russians went in and immediately removed the Tatar’s freedom of the press by shutting down their newspapers and radio stations. Then they shut down their political ability to work together at the Meijles, their parliament. Then the Russians made sure that they could no longer go to their mosques to gather. There is no freedom of association, no freedom of political affiliation, and no freedom of religion,” said Bezan.
If passed, Bill C-306 will recognize the mass deportations of Crimean Tatars in 1944 by the Soviet regime as genocide and establish May 18 as a day of commemoration.
In 2015, the Parliament of Ukraine officially recognized the deportations of 1944 as genocide, the first country in the world to do so. Subsequently, the Ukrainian Parliament called on other countries to join them in recognizing this atrocity as genocide.
“Today’s efforts by the Putin regime to eliminate the cultural identity of the Tatars should be an indicator as to why supporting Bill C-306 is essential. If we do not recognize and learn from the atrocities of the past, they are bound to repeat themselves,” said Bezan.