the destruction of monuments













the  prohibition
of  language



Spiral № 2. The destruction of symbols:


The physical destruction of bodies is accompanied by the destruction of Islamic monuments of material culture (mosques, fountains, burial sites, book-burnings), the prohibition on learning the Crimean Tatar language, and the policy of Russianization.
In 1833, books, manuscripts and written sources in Crimean Tatar language were gathered from all of Crimea and burnt . A similar move was undertaken in 1928, when after the centuries-old Crimean Tatar alphabet, based on Arabic script, was replaced by a Latin script, all sources in Crimean Tatar languages were confiscated from library collections and burned once again.
These actions were part of the construction of a nation-state – first the Russian Empire, and then the USSR – where there could be no other language but “the Russian”, which provides the conditions of “convergence with the culture of the great Russian people”, and no other people but the Russian people or its heir – the so-called “Soviet citizen”, devoid of national characteristics.
The Crimean Tatar language, according to the Russian legislation, is considered an official language, but in practice its official status is a fiction. Besides certain prohibited individual words, such as “suhbet”, “mejlis”, “qurultay”, the number of school children learning Crimean Tatar is rapidly decreasing. Human rights activist Emine Avamileva remarks: “In reality, Crimean Tatar language is only a language of daily communication within families; you will not see it used in the social and political life of Crimea”.
The destruction of monuments of material culture repeats itself in cycles, beginning from the XVIII century. Only its declared reasons change. After the first conquest of Crimea by the Russian empire in 1783, count Potemkin began the “restoration” of the abandoned palace of the Crimean khans in Bahçesaray, in preparation for the arrival of Catherine II. By May 1787, the Khan-Saray was “restored” under the guidance of de Ribas, after which “the palace had lost its original style”. After one of the numerous so-called “restorations”, a symbol of the ruling Romanov house – the two-headed eagle – appeared at the entrance to the palace. As the researcher Kelly O'Neill remarks, after the imperial “restoration”, the palace of khans was transformed from a crucial political symbol of the Crimean Tatar people into a symbol of “Tatar subjugation”. In the atheist Soviet state, starting from 1920s, there have been large-scale closings of mosques and destructions of places of worship, so that these places were repurposed as storehouses, workshops and warehouses. Gravestones and stones from destroyed mosques, including those that were of historical and cultural value, were often used as construction material.
The spiral of colonial oppression continued unwinding further: in 1918 the toponym “Crimea” was replaced by the “Taurida Soviet Socialist Republic”, followed by further replacements of Crimean Tatar toponyms by Russian names after the forced displacement of May 18, 1944. After the displacement, cypress alleys were replaced by birch, so that no trace reminding the world of Crimean Tatars is left. “These cases of renaming testify to a lack of basic culture, to a disdain towards people and country”. Thus, simultaneously with the destruction of bodies, the centuries-old memory of Crimean Tatars was being erased.