Jamala 1944 – Song of the Crimean Tatars

Posted by The Skibbereen Eagle | May 15, 2016 0


Ukraine’s Jamala has won this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, held in Stockholm, Sweden. The country scored 534 points with its song 1944, about Stalin, Crimea and the genocidal  ethnic cleansing of the Crimean Tatar’s. Her victory is particularly poignant in this month as the deportation of the entire Tatar population of the Crimea took place in May 1944 and the event is commemorated with great sadness by the Tatar people on the 18th May. I’m awaiting Czar Putin ‘s broadcast to the Russian People “Eurovision hasn’t necessarily worked out to our advantage.”


And the winner of Eurovision 2016 is..Ukraine!!!!!! Extraordinary. What a hugely symbolic moment that a Muslim Crimean Tatar from Ukraine has won Eurovision. The lyrics for “1944” concern the deportation of the Crimean Tatars, in the 1940s, by the Soviet Union at the hands of Joseph Stalin. Jamala was particularly inspired by the story of her great-grandmother Nazylkhan, who was in her mid-20s when she and her five children were deported to barren Central Asia. One of the daughters did not survive the journey. Jamala’s great-grandfather was fighting in World War II in the Red Army at this time and thus could not protect his family. Following the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea Jamala claims that her relatives are abused and she is portrayed as an “American stooge” or “a fascist” for emerging to side against Russia. She has not visited her family in Crimea since the summer of 2014.

The forcible deportation of the Crimean Tatars from Crimea was ordered by Joseph Stalin as a form of collective punishment for alleged collaboration with the Nazi occupation regime in Taurida Subdistrict during 1942-1943. The state-organized removal is known as the Sürgünlik in Crimean Tatar. A total of more than 230,000 people were deported, mostly to the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic. This included the entire ethnic Crimean Tatar population, at the time about a fifth of the total population of the Crimean Peninsula, as well as smaller numbers of ethnic Greeks and Bulgarians. A large number of deportees (more than 100,000 according to a 1960s survey by Crimean Tatar activists) died from starvation or disease as a direct result of deportation. It is considered to be a case of ethnic cleansing.  For a long time Crimean Tatars and Soviet dissidents called for recognition of the genocide of Crimean Tatars. On November 12, 2015 parliament of Ukraine adopted a resolution recognizing the event as a genocide and declared 18 May as a Day of Remembrance for the victims of Crimean Tatar genocide. Tatars-cover-webtatarstatars2

During destalinisation the deportation was denounced by the Soviet government; nevertheless, the Crimean Tatars were denied the right of return up until late perestroika times.

The song’s chorus, in the Crimean Tatar language, are words that Jamala had heard from her great-grandmother, reflecting the loss of a youth which could not be spent in her homeland. The song features the duduk and the use of the mugham vocal style. Jamala has said in an interview that the song also reminds her of her own family living in Crimea nowadays, claiming that since the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea “the Crimean Tatars are on occupied territory” The song lyrics, however, do not address this annexation. Eurovision rules prohibit songs with lyrics that could be interpreted as having “political content”. Jamala is the stage name of Susana Jamaladinova. The 32 year old was born in Osh, Kirghiz SSR, to a Crimean Tatar father and an Armenian Christian mother, giving her an insight into two genocides. tatars18maystalin1-620x435tatarstears

What a defeat for Putin and his politics. Russia wins the popular vote but were just a hairs breadth ahead of Ukraine, when they should have been miles ahead were it not for how polarising they have become.

The Crimean Tatars were butchered by the Russian government in the past, and are now being oppressed again, with many “Disappearing” and their leaders being charged for “Extremism” merely for defying Putin. A victory for minority politics and liberation against the fascism and dictatorship of Czar Vlad.

The Skibbereen Eagle

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