21 May


21 May is a day of remembrance to mark one of the worst human sufferings in the history. 21 May is the anniversary of the Circassian genocide and exile committed as a part of the colonialist policies of the Czarist Russia and other imperial states.

Having failed to subdue the Circassians in a century-long warfare, the Russian Tsar decided to enforce their mass migration to other regions of the empire or to the Ottoman Empire. As a result of a systematic policy of clearing the Circassia of its indigenous peoples, most of the Circassians (about 90 percent of the population at that time) were expelled from their homeland in a short time period under horrendous conditions, and a third of them perished during the exodus from disease and starvation.

In spite of all oppression, dispersion and sufferings, the Circassians have survived and protected their identity. They have forgotten neither 21 May nor their homeland. They organized the first commemoration ceremony in the diaspora 125 years after their exodus. The first remembrance day held in Ankara in 1989 has been the the beginning of a cultural and political renaissance among the Circassian diaspora.

The remembrance day in Ankara was attended by the representatives from the homeland and all diaspora countries. The representatives agreed upon to act together on common problems, and their meeting provided a strong impetus for the organizational activities in Turkey as well as at the international level. Kafder was established in 1993, and then its successor, Kaffed, was established in 2003 by most of the cultural associations active in Turkey.

Since the first day of its establishment, Kaffed has carried out systematically a number of activities for understanding, explaining and commemorating the 21 May Circassian Genocide and Exile Day. It has organized scientific meetings, published academic studies, become active for the recognition of the Circassian genocide and exile at the international fora, and asked all member organizations to commemorate the 21 May. As a result of Kaffed's persistent activities, the 21 May remembrance day ceremonies are now being attended by thousands of people each year.

In this context, the aim of the 21 May site is threefold:

  • To provide Research findings and information necessary to understand the tragic history of the Circassian people
  • To facilitate Recognition of the Circassian genocide and exile by the international community, including the Russian Federation, Turkey and all other countries
  • To present a forum for the Remembrance for the victims of genocide and exile, by providing information on commemoration activities, and materials for those who would like to organiza such activities

This web site is dedicated to the memory of those who lost their lives during the Circassian genocide and exodus.