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Ukrainian Tatar Wins EuroVision Song Contest

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Jamala is a Ukrainian singer, composer and actress whose ethnic background is a Tatar. In this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, Jamala performed her own composition, 1944. This has caused a bit of a stir for the song is about the oppression of the Tatars in Crimea by Stalin. There have been hundreds of comments on Facebook and Twitter that call it the politicization of the ESC by the public broadcasters. The criticism came from virtually every country in Europe such as Sweden, Italy, France, Poland, Great Britain, and Germany. It was noted that the winning song was so political, that a serious suspicion was not overcome.

As summarized by Wikipedia:

The Tatars are a Turkic ethnic group that formed in the Crimean Peninsula during the 13th-17th centuries, primarily from the Turkic tribes that moved to the land that is now known as Crimea in Eastern Europe. Her song is about the forcible deportation of the Crimean Tatars from Crimea ordered by Joseph Stalin as a form of collective punishment for alleged collaboration with the Nazi occupation regime in Taurida Subdistrict during 1942–1943 which was considered to be a case of ethnic cleansing. On November 12, 2015 parliament of Ukraine adopted a resolution recognizing the event as a genocide and declared May 18th as a Day of Remembrance for the victims of Crimean Tatar genocide. Stalin ordered the deportation 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. 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. They were allowed to return finally during the perestroika times. (“Deportation of the Crimean Tatars,” Wikipedia, accessed May 15, 2016.)

The Eurovision song contest has resulted in some concern that this is a political decision to further the isolation of Russia, despite the fact that the Russian government rejected his harsh treatment of the Tatars after Stalin.