Where is Meskhetia ?

  • Meskhetia is a county that is located within the borders of Georgia and in the center of the region where Caucasus is at its Southwest part, which is at the northeast of Turkey, Northwest of Armenia. It had more than two hundred villages that were bound to it. Most part of the population in this region was formed by Turks until quite recently.

    Who are Meskhetian Turks?

    Meskhetian Turks are local community that lived in the southwest region of the Georgia until 1944 deportation and the center of which is Meskhetia city. This community was mentioned as Kypchak and Bun- Turk in the old Georgian sources. Nowadays, this community describes itself as Turk and it speaks Turkish. There were small Muslim groups who spoke Kurdish and Hemşin language in the region before the deportation. However mother tongue language of the most of the population was Turkish Language.

    What is the meaning of the 1944 deportation?

    Turkish community in the region was never rebellious against the state to which it belonged. During the Second World War, 40.000 young people of this community served for the army of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Half of them lost their lives during the war, and most of them returning from the war became permanently disabled.

    Old people and children, who stayed at the region during the years of war, were forced to build railway by having been worked by state for free. State expelled more than 120. 000 Meskhetian Turks living in that region to the Central Asia by the first trains coming through this railway. Meskhetians were expelled by the decision made by Stalin, Leader of Soviet, and by Beria who was Stalin’s assistant.

    Literate people and intellectual people among these expelled communities were sent to the Siberia. And then no news could be received from them. Thos who were settled into the Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan were subjected to the special regime for 12 years (1944- 1956) and they were not allowed to leave the villages and towns into which they were settled down. Those who did not obey these prohibitions were punished seriously. Although it was permitted for other deported regions to return their homeland in 1957, Meskhetian Turks were only granted a limited travelling freedom in deported regions. But they were never allowed to travel into or settle down into the Meskhetia region which is their homeland. Some part of the expelled community settled down into the Azerbaijan through their own means due to its closeness to the homeland and with the hope of returning to the homeland at the first opportunity.

    Returning Period

    After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the issue of returning back to the Georgia was again on the agenda; new period began due to the fact that it was one of the conditions of the European Council membership of the Georgia in 1999 to let the Meskhetian Turks return their land. International community has supported the returning period.

    Meskhetian Turks, who were exposed to various discrimination and human rights violations as of the date when the region of Meskhetia became a part of the Soviet Union, nowadays lived in eight different countries. These countries are Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russian Federation, Ukraine, USA and Turkey. In some of these countries, human rights are violated variously.

    Meskhetian Turks expect from modern world the injustice performed on them by 1944 deportation to be corrected and returning period to the Georgia to be carried out in a way that do not make discrimination and that do not violate human rights.

    Through the instrumentality of the European Council, Law on Returning to the Land that was accepted in the Parliament of Georgia on the date of 11 July 2007 is an important and concrete step that Georgia has taken since 1944. But this law has so many missing parts. Deported community of Meskhetian Turks and non- governmental organizations are seriously criticizing this law. Some experts evaluate this law as a law that is regulated in order to prevent the returning to the land.

    It is needed from International institutions to give material support for the returning period. Georgia has many problems in social, political and economic terms.

    What do Meskhetian Turks want?

    We want to return our lands from which we were expelled unjustly. As of today, we have been settling down in 2000 different settlements at 9 different countries including USA. We have difficulty in getting citizenship, settlement permission and work permission in the countries where we live. Our culture and language is on the edge of vanishing. We want to return our country as Georgian citizens and to live in our lands from now on.

    State of Georgia has difficulty in preparing necessary social and economic conditions for our return. We previously had lands and houses in this region. But Meskhetian Turks who return have to purchase the lands and houses in those places. This creates a huge problem for our people who had already incurred big losses. Our request from Georgia is to allocate some part of our old lands in our homeland to us in return for the evaluation of the social rights, occupational rights, house, land and terrains that we have in these countries. Georgia should recognize the diplomas that we get in the countries in which we live and our occupation that we perform.

    The law which is adopted in 2007 is so insufficient in granting rights for us for the first time. Missing parts of this law are explained below shortly:

    This law leads to a citizenship right problem. Because it is required from those who are accepted to return to leave the citizenship of the country from where they come but as it is not guaranteed for them to get Georgian citizenship, there is risk for them to get into homeless situation. This situation has a deterrent effect on those who want to return to this land.

    Application period allowed for the return is insufficient. Application for the return should be made possible for every time.

    It is required from Meskhetian Turks who applied for return to have the demanded documents and files translated into English or Georgian Language which are not known by them. But common language was Russian until a recent time and above mentioned documents had been written in the Russian Language. As a matter of fact, there should not be need for translation for temporary condition. Although there is a language known, requiring the submission of document in a language that is not known is nothing but to make things get more difficult.

    Regions to which people who will return to Meskhetia settle down are still uncertain. There are rumors explaining that those who return will be distributed all over the Georgia. But people want to settle down into their homeland before the deportation, in that they want to settle down into Meskhetia and their villages. Therefore the fact that those who will return will be dispersed into different regions of the Georgia means the prevention of lasting our culture. There are evacuated villages in the region at least we will be provided with settling down into these regions. Because these evacuated regions become like this as a result of the deportation of the Turks living in the Meskhetia. We believe wholeheartedly that our right to return our homeland is the most sacred human right. We reiterate our humanitarian call towards modern world to give us a support for moving along on this way. Hey humanity! Hear our scream that we have cried out since 1944!

    Non- governmental organization of our people who are expelled from Meskhetia is the World’s Meskhetian Turks’ Association which is organized in 9 different countries all over the world.

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