Turkey supports Ahiska Turks across world

Presidency for Turks Abroad and Related Communities (YTB) and Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency support Ahiska Turks’ efforts to return to their ancestral homeland, from which they were rooted out 76 years ago.

According to the information obtained by Anadolu Agency, YTB supports Ahiska Turks through numerous projects and undertakings.

These undertakings and sufferings of Ahiska Turks as a result of their deportation in 1944 were revealed in a special event held last year with the participation of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In the event organized by YTB to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Ahiska Turks’ exile from their homelands, around 3,000 Ahiska Turks met Erdogan.

During the Memorial Program of the Exile of Ahiska Turks in its 75th year, a documentary movie — produced as part of YTB’s efforts to keep the exile’s memories alive and transmit them to future generations — was screened.

A book version of the documentary and a music album of Ahiska folk songs were also presented to the audience.

An oral history project, Last Witnesses of Exile, supported by YTB, included testimonies of Ahiska Turks, who lived through the exile and are presently living in Turkey, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Azerbaijan.

YTB, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the exile, also organized an event attended by some Turkish deputies and Georgian officials in Georgia.

It initiated another important project to create a database of the social-economic texture of Ahiska Turks.

Under the project, 220 Ahiska villages were visited to detect and register civil buildings, including mosques, madrasahs — schools — public baths, fountains, as well as related archives in Turkey and Georgia were examined. As part of the project, a book titled Turkish-Islamic Architectural Relic in the Meskhetian Region was published.

YTB encourages Ahiska youth to attend higher education in Georgia. Today, dozens of Ahiska Turks graduated from Georgian universities with the support of YTB.

Also supporting their integration to the societies they live in and boosting their social-economic influence, YTB organizes courses to facilitate Ahiska Turks’ entrance to the universities.

– TIKA’s undertakings for Ahiska Turks

Another Turkish governmental body, TIKA, also developed and conducted many projects to support Ahiska Turks.

Many exiled community members had a chance to visit their ancestral homelands due to the coordinated efforts of TIKA and the World Union of Ahiska Turks (DATUB).

The house of Grandfather Seyfettin, one of the eyewitnesses of the exile, was repaired.

Turkish language summer schools in Turkey for Turkish teachers in the Ahiska Turkish community were organized by TIKA.

Tens of Ahiska Turkish students graduated from Georgian higher education institutions thanks to TIKA’s support.

Boosting the economic conditions of Ahiska Turks has been among the priorities of TIKA, which, in cooperation with DATUB, donated Ahiska women 80 sewing machines in 2015-2016.

TIKA also provided 200 beehives to 30 families in the Adjara and Akhaltsikhe regions of Georgia.

Furthermore, TIKA funded vocational training of five young Ahiska Turks in Georgia in the 2017-2018 academic year and established greenhouses for 43 families in the Akhaltsikhe and Gori regions.

TOKI supported Ahiska Turks also during the coronavirus pandemic. Some 180 boxes of food were distributed to Ahiska families in the Akhaltsikhe, Gori, and Samtredia regions of Georgia.

In 1944, over 92,000 Ahiska Turks, also known as Meskhetian Turks, were expelled from their region by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, according to the World Ahiska Turks Association.

During nearly 40-day deportation from homeland to Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, around 13,000 Ahiska Turks lost their lives due to hunger, cold weather, and diseases.

Up to 500,000 Ahiska Turks scattered across nine countries, including Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, the US, and the Central Asian republics.

Source: Anadolu Agency