[tatar-l] Anti-Crimean Tatar program on TRT
- Dear Alper,
Thank you very much, indeed, for informing IC-Crimea about the sad incident
that occurred on TRT. Unfortunately, this is not a new problem, the
anti-Tatar sentiment has been in existence in Turkey for centuries. Despite
the fact that the Crimean Tatars couregously fought and still are fighting
for Turkey, their committment to "Aktoprak" has not been appreciated. No
matter how hard the Crimean Tatars tried to be accepted in "Aktoprak", in
certain circles they remained "pis tatar". Our national poet, Bekir Sitki
Cobanzade expressed this best :
Bir menmen uzakta duani etken,
Tuvganin, seninmen olumge ketken.
Bir menmen kolumnu kokke koterip,
"Umitke" olmez dep umitler berip.
Bir menmen cilayman yaz, kis ve bahar,
Bir menmen kardasin, men su "PisTatar".
The incident during the "Viyana Kusatmasi" has been an excuse to slander
the couregous Crimean Tatars who sacrificed their lives for the Ottoman
Empire. Last year or year before I was given a page from one of the popular
wall calendar,Saatli Maarif Takvimi or Ulku Takvimi (Unfortunately I have
misplaced it, I will print it on ICC as soon as I find it), which had
referred to the "Vienna incident " between the Crimean Khan and the Ottoman
Sultan, as " ...Tarihin en buyuk ihaneti". These calenders are widely read
by average citizens in Turkey. It would have beeen somehow tolerable if
the same calendar had included "The May 18, 1944 Surgun"; of course it did
not. One can go on and on, but it is not necessary and beneficial at this
time for the ever suffering Crimean Tatars who need a great deal of support
from everyone. If you consider the recent attack on Ismail Bey Gaspirali by
so called "friends" of Crimean Tatars and the TRT incident then you wander
whether this is done deliberately or not.
What can be done about these attacks on Crimean Tatars? First of all, we
have a representative of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis in Turkey, Zafer Karatay.
In my opinion, Mejlis' representative should send a strong protest to TRT
until the Crimean Tatar people receive a satisfactory public apology from
TRT. Also, Zafer Karatay bey should report this to proper Crimean Tatar
authorities in Crimea and have the Crimean Tatar Mejlis send the strongest
protest to TRT. The Crimean Tatar Mejlis should ask for equal time from TRT
to rebut the issue, clearing the Crimean Tatars national integrity. The same
action should be taken against the author of the slanderous article on
Ismail Bey Gaspirali. An article should be published in the same magazine
"Tarih ve Medeniyet" to inform its readers what Ismail Gaspirali was
fighting against, the real condition of the Crimean Tatars and other Muslim
communities under tsarist Russian rule and also the real conditions of the
Muslim educational system during Ismail Gaspirali's time. Then the Crimean
Tatar "Dernek"s should get together and peacefully voice their
dissapointment and anger the strongest way possible.
If you provide us with an e-mail address or mailing address of the
aforementioned reporter and/or the producer, we as ICC members will (should)
send our protest to them. However, the official protest should come from
the Crimean Tatar Mejlis and its representative in Turkey. As far as I am
concern, the Crimean Tatar Mejlis officially represents the Crimean Tatar
people. If Mejlis wants to be recognized as such, here are two opportunities
to act upon.
Thanks again for your concern; it is too bad that there are not too many
Crimean Tatars like you Alper. Is there anything written about this show in
Turkish newspapers? Where is the "Five million strong Crimean Tatar
Community" in Turkey? Total silence of ICC as well as Turkistan-l shows
that we have long ways to go.
Best wishes for the Ramazan and the coming New Year to you and all ICC, tatar-l
T-L members. I also wish "Merry Christmas and Prosperous New Year" to all
my non-Tatar friends!
Mubeyyin Batu Altan
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- I have always admired Mubeyyin Batu Altan's dedication to Crimean Tatars
and his ready willingness to defend the Tatar cause. When it was
reported that the Turkish Radio and Television (TRT) had aired a bias
program, Mubeyyin, who is a prominent member of the Crimean Tatar
community in the United States, was quick to respond. I don't know
how that anti-Tatar slant slipped into the TRT program, but it is
also worth noting that Zafer Karatay, who is the Turkish representative
at the Crimean Tatar Mejlis in Simferopol, also works for the TRT.
Several years ago, Mr. Karatay produced a three-hour documentary on
Crimean Tatars for the TRT, and it was aired in six 30-minute segments.
Certainly one cannot say that the TRT itself is prejudiced against the
In the absence of statistical studies, it is hard to talk about social
prejudice. Is there an anti-Tatar feeling in Turkey? The response
often depends on the individual asked and how comfortable she/he feels
in that environment. My own response is that there is no appreciable prejudice
against people of Crimean Tatar descent, most of whom are well assimilated
into the Turkish society. There are no ghettoes in Turkey, where Crimean
Tatars have been forced to live. Certainly, they are not among the poorest
people living in Turkey. On the whole, Crimean Tatars who migrated to the
"Aktoprak" (a 19th-century term which means literally "white land" and
implied the lands of the Ottoman Empire) and their descendents in Turkey
have done well. There are many successful businessmen and professional
people among Tatars, who are generally known as industrious and honest
people. During one of my recent trips I heard that children of mixed
marriages, proud of their Tatar heritage are, now seeking their Tatar
The term "Pis Tatar," which means "dirty Tatar," is no longer heard,
and I certainly have not heard it spoken but only know of it from
published literature. The Crimean Tatar poet Bekir Sitki Cobanzade
(1893-1938) attended school in Istanbul from 1909 to 1915, and his
poem might have helped perpetuate the negative image of Tatars. Cobanzade
went on to Budapest, where he received his doctorate in Turkic literature
and languages, and taught at Baku University for many years. A respected
scholar and spokesman for the Turkic people, he was executed by Soviet
authorities in 1938. Certainly, the experience of young Cobanzade
in early-twentieth century Istanbul does not apply to people of Crimean
descent living in Turkey today.
How is this rosy picture of Crimean Tatars living in diaspora to start the
new year with?
All the best, // Inci Bowman
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