January 13, 2005

REPRESENTATION AND REVIVAL OF THE CULTURAL HERITAGE OF THE CRIMEAN TATARS

Ibraim Abdullaev
Newspaper “Voice of the Crimea”

Our seminar takes place on the important historical dates:
59-th anniversary of the end of the World War II and 60-th anniversary of the deportation of the Crimean Tatar people. Events of those tragic events which put our people on the edge of life and death, caused enormous, irreparable damage to its cultural heritage being revived nowadays in the hardest conditions of return to the native land.
The heritage of the Crimean Tatars, one of the indigenous peoples of the peninsula, is expressed in ethnic, cultural, language and religious originality which is supposed to be protected by the states that had signed the Framework Convention on Protection of National Minorities. And though Crimean Tatars, have doubts concerning applying the term "national minority" to them and prefer the term «indigenous people», it does not exclude them from among those who are to be protected by the Framework Convention.
At previous seminars the President of the Foundation for Research and Support of Indigenous Peoples of the Crimea Nadir Bekirov, and the Director of the Republican Crimean Tatar Museum of Arts Safie Eminova presented and published the detailed reports on situation of ethnic identity, cultural heritage, traditions and religions of the Crimean Tatar people. Refraining from different repetitions, facts and information, well-known to the public and official bodies of the Autonomous Republic of the Crimea, I would like to draw attention of the participants to the most burning, according to opinion, tasks and problems:
1. The Ministry of Culture of the Autonomous Republic of the Crimea, the State service of control on displacement of cultural valuables across frontier of Ukraine, service of control on displacement of cultural valuables of the Autonomous Republic of the Crimea should pay the special attention to the problem of restitution, return to the Crimea of cultural valuables of the Crimean Tatars taken out to museums and archives, libraries of Ukraine and abroad.
In post-war decades the history and cultural heritage of the indigenous peoples of the Crimea - the Crimean Tatars, Karaites and Krimchacks –was neglected and destructed. Thousands of art works, various crafts, hand-written books, rare editions, the archival materials taken out from the territory of the peninsula, are nowadays kept in museums, libraries, archives of Ukraine, the countries near and far abroad. The return of the Crimean Tatar people to the native land initiated its national cultural revival. However the restoration of scientific, cultural, educational establishments and national crafts is impossible without solving the legal problems of restitution. With a view to that the Ministry of Culture of the Autonomous Republic of the Crimea has elaborated the plan of measures on return of the formerly taken out cultural and historical values and exhibits to the Crimea. During the years passed experts and research assistants of various museums, archives, libraries, and humanitarian funds determined the measures of losses, and addresses of their presence. The legal base, mechanisms on return of cultural valuables are being improved and developed, as well as contacts with establishments of different states authorized in solving the problem, demanding, besides, considerable financial means. Alongside with certain positive results achieved by colleagues of I. Gasprinskiy Republican Crimean Tatar library, and the Republican Crimean Tatar Museum of Arts, it is necessary to note, that during realization of projects we face opposition of officials, lack of means, absence of effective legal norms, that, finally, creates difficulty and negative impact on intensity of implementation of the planned programs. As the previous two years have shown, in a view of no interest of the above-mentioned official bodies and departments, the process of restitution is practically frozen.

2. The particular alarm is caused by the land reform coming to the end in Ukraine. As it is known, about 9 thousand monuments of material culture: settlements, burial grounds, necropolises, fortifications, various cult constructions, barrows, sacred places, etc. are registered on territory of the Crimea. It is unknown, what amount of archeological monuments will be in private property of natural and legal persons. Land reform comes to the end, and we already have examples of glaring contradictions which are not settled till now and, probably, will not be resolved in the nearest future. There is an example of natives of the Circassian - Kermen village, located in the Bakhchisaray area. Researches of archeologists showed, that people rendered these places habitable about 10 thousand years ago, in epoch of mesolite. Since then life did not stop there. In the early Middle Ages the Circassian - Kermen settlement was a part agricultural neighborhood of the large feudal center of the mountainous Crimea - fortress Eski-Kermen, located in the next gorge. The population of medieval mountainous Crimea generated from various ethnic groups: descendants of Tavrian-Scythians, Alans, Gothes, Bulgars, whose process of baptizing was delayed for long 6 centuries (4-10 centuries). The first statistical data on the Circassian - Kermen settlement is fixed in censuses of 1520 and 1542 carried out by Ottoman administration of the territory. In 1520 there were 28 Moslems (5 houses) and 353 Christians (65 houses) in the settlement. The Muslim population was not specified in 1542, and 273 Christians lived in 1944 houses. In 1578 the Circassian - Kermen settlement is mentioned by the messenger of the Polish king Stefan Batoriya to Mohammed Giray-khan – Martin Bronevsky. In 16-18 centuries there was a gradual dissemination of Islam among the Crimean Tatars, inhabiting the mountainous Crimea and the Southern Coast. One of the traits of this process is construction in 18 century in the Circassian – Kermen settlement of a mosque in the place of an orthodox temple. At the same time, in 1778, the Christian community of the Circassian – Kermen settlement during the eviction to the Trans Azov sea region left the native settlement. In the 19 century the Circassian - Kermen settlement was mentioned and described: in 1793 by the academician P. Pallas, P. Sumarokov, the French traveler and researcher K. Montandon, the academician P. Keppen, V. Kondaraki, E. Markov. According to statistical committee of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian empire, in 1865 there were 246 Crimean Tatars (50 court yards) in the Circassian – Kermen settlement;
In 1884 - 637 inhabitants, in 1897 - 522 inhabitants. According to the census of 1926 there were 678 Crimean Tatars in 148 court yards in the Circassian – Kermen settlement. The centuries-long history of the settlement was destroyed by the Soviet regime. After the deportation of 1944 the native citizens renamed the settlement as Krepkoe, the empty houses were inhabited with immigrants who didn’t get accustomed in the settlement. The collective farm based here «Memory of Leningrad» was recognized as unpromising, and in the 60s settlement have finally plundered, apartment houses, a school, and a mosque were razed to the ground, 3 cemeteries were demolished. Since then the village does not exist. From the beginning of the 90s, the very beginning of mass return from the deportation, the inhabitants of the Circassian – Kermen settlement tried to solve legislatively the problem of revival of the settlement, addressing the Krasnomak rural council with applications on allocation of land for building:
- On March, 22, 1991 - the collective application to the collective farm "Ukraine" on behalf of 37 people,
- On November, 2, 1991 - the collective application to the collective farm "Ukraine" on behalf of 50 people,
- November, 1992 - Z.N. Ibragimov's personal application on the permission of constructing an individual apartment house in the place where his parental house was,
- On March, 15, 1997 – the address from 4 public organizations: the Muslim community "Zalankoy", the local Mejlis, section of the League of Women and Council of elders addressed to the chairman of the collective agricultural enterprise "Ukraine",
- On May, 2, 2002 - the collective protest against transfer of the settlement territory (about 12 hectares) in private possession signed by 127 inhabitants of the Circassian – Kermen settlement,
- On September, 20, 2002 - the resolution - protest of the assembly of natives of the Circassian – Kermen settlement and their descendants.
According to the data of the Circassian – Kermen settlement inhabitants the whole territory (about 12 hectares) on which 150 families lived, there was a school, a mosque, 3 cemeteries are transferred to the private property of members of the collective farm "Ukraine" by decision ? 23 from 2/2/2000 of the executive committee of Krasnomak taken in non-presence of any native of the Circassian – Kerman settlement. Subsequently the state certificate ? 1724 of 11 May 2002 on land was issued.
Nowadays the entrance on territory of the settlement being a private property is closed for visiting by its natives and their descendants. Literally several days ago, on May, 2, 2004, the next assembly of the Circassian – Kerman settlement inhabitants and their descendants on territory of the native village which almost resulted in collision with emergency and so-called Cossacks took place.

3. Crimean Tatars profess Islam and the heritage of our people is usually identified with the Muslim culture which left traces on all spheres of life and activity. Really, in the course of 6 centuries (13-19 centuries) the Crimean Tatars all over the peninsula built over 1600 Muslim cult constructions: mosques, madrasah, tekkie, durbe, etc. On the basis of archival sources of State archive ARK the underground group of the cult buildings constructed in each city, settlement is made. Nowadays in Crimea, by provisional calculations, it was kept about hundred ancient Muslim monuments of architecture. However till now scientific fixing of the locations of one and a half thousand the destroyed cult objects being archeologic monuments, testifying about an epoch of distribution and development of Islamic culture and ideology on peninsula is not lead(carried out). With process ??????????? the grounds and transfer to a private property these objects can be lost for a science. We, probably, shall not be mistaken, if we shall tell, that work on revealing and statement on the state account is not lead(carried out) by Republican committee ARK on protection of a cultural heritage.
The situation with ????????????????? the cemeteries completely destroyed during deportation ????????????????? of people looks even more painfully. From cemeteries are plundered ???????????? monuments, they are ploughed up, built up, ???????? with the ground. So only in Simferopol on former ???????????????? a city cemetery the kindergarten, and on the friend - high school is constructed. Meanwhile, according to modern international law behind radical peoples the legal right on ashes of ancestors admits, and duties of the state include protection and an accomplishment of cemeteries and necropolises. However work on revealing and statement on the account ???????????????? cemeteries in Crimea as is not lead(carried out). In result ??????????? and privatizations of the grounds, in private(individual) possession can appear and cemeteries of our ancestors as it has taken place in ?. The Circassian - ??????.
Protection, accomplishment, reverence and visiting of sacred places - ?????? in Crimea concerns to the most ancient national and religious traditions of our people. Nowadays also the fullest list including over 100 sacred places - ?????? is made and issued. All of them are profaned, objects of worship are destroyed. Cities, settlements, districts where are located ?????, are known. However we have no data on their statement on the state account and as a result land reform many of them can be finally lost. Here pertinently to remind as an example only one fact of discrimination of the Crimean Tatars in a question of transfer to Spiritual management of moslems of Crimea known and located in Simferopol a sacred place - ?????, named "??????-woman". Decade lasts "epopee" on ????????? city authorities of one, lonely inhabitant living in tiny territory of a sacred place, taking place in a court yard of one of houses. This fact evidently shows the attitude(relation) of the Crimean authorities to a cultural heritage of our people. And what passions have inflamed, in connection with necessity of granting of territory for Simferopol for construction of a cathedral mosque of moslems of Crimea! Here pertinently to inform, that city authorities and have not solved this problem during 8 years in the civilized way. Intervention of the President of Ukraine, however "things are right where they started" was required. In Feodosiya, for example, city authorities have transferred a building of a mosque to a religious community of Adventists of 7-th day, for establishment in it(him) of a temple that has caused indignation and protests of a Muslim part of the population of city.

4. Problems of toponymics of Crimea.

One of important points of studying of a history of Crimea, his(its) cultural traditions and values are place names. The names kept from ancient times carry deep sense, being a source of transfer of the information to new generations. In the remote past people very much depend on features of occupied territory, therefore developed local geographical terms which gave the exact characteristic to surrounding natural objects. Created in the natural way, passing the long period of adaptation, today these names enable to receive the objective information, both about economic, and about cultural historical development of Crimea. After deportation of the Crimean Tatars into 1944 over 90 % of names of settlements have been renamed, the invented, senseless names of villages and cities have appeared. Ancient toponymy of Crimea should be restored. It will be of great importance and in education of new generation, and in the sanction of mess and the conflicts arising between inhabitants of peninsula. However it is obvious, that the Russian-speaking population of peninsula never will agree to restoration traditional, place names in Crimea. It can be made only by the decision of the central government, differently Crimean ?????? for ever lose a part of the historical memory. In opinion of researchers ???????????????, ????????????????? and ????????-study of local lore activity is of great importance in formation of feeling of love to the Native land, national consciousness. People starts to realize itself the nation when the generated layer of cultural intelligency creates various museums, archives, societies, educational institutions which purpose to keep and study the past, folklore, monuments of architecture, art, a daily life. All set forth above directions of cultural activity have the big importance for the Crimean Tatars who survived deportation and have lost the most part of the cultural heritage.

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