WASHINGTON, DC— Representative Eliot L. Engel released the following statement commemorating the 70th anniversary of the deportation of more than 200,000 Crimean Tatars from their homeland in Crimea.

"Seven decades ago, more than 200,000 Crimean Tatars were forced from their homeland in Crimea by Soviet forces. Nearly half of those deported perished, either in transit or of hunger and disease while in forced exile. Today, we mark this dark chapter in the history of the 20th century, and we join in solidarity with Crimean Tatars around the world still bearing the scars of this terrible tragedy.

“Though we might hope that this sort of abuse is just a part of the past, today the Crimean Tatars face a new threat, this time precipitated by Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea. As a recent UN report shows, since March, members of the community have been subjected to harassment, forced detention, beatings, and threats to their property rights. More than 7,000 Crimean Tatars have been internally displaced. In another telling sign of the intense pressure on the Crimean Tatars, Mustafa Dzhemilev, the community leader and renowned human rights activist I met in Washington and again in Kyiv recently, has been barred from returning to his home.

“As we solemnly mark this tragic anniversary, we must remember that the struggle of the Crimean Tatars is not over. We must continue to stand up for their rights, as we continue to speak out on behalf of all Ukrainians affected by Russian aggression in Ukraine. I take this opportunity to voice my support for the Crimean Tatar community as well as for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity during this difficult time.”