With the support of Turkey’s state-run agency, a group of 40 Ahiska Turks living in Kazakhstan returned to their homeland in Georgia’s Meskheti region after 75 years.
According to a statement by Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), the Ahiska Turks — also known as Meskhetian Turks — returned to Meskheti region in cooperation with TIKA and Ahiska Turks Homeland Society.
They paid a visit to the abandoned houses and the graves of their ancestors and also visited monuments and prayed for those Ahiska Turks, who died 75 years ago during exile from the ancestral lands.
The delegation was accompanied by Sadyr Eibov and Ismail Ahmedov, officials of the World Union of Ahiska Turks.
Some 92,307 Ahiska Turks were expelled from Georgia’s Meskheti region by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in 1944, according to the World Ahiska Turks Association.
During nearly 40 days of deportation period from homeland to Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, around 13,000 Ahiska Turks lost their lives due to hunger, cold weather and diseases, the association said.
Turkey has voluntarily accepted thousands of Ahiskan Turks upon President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s instruction.
Around half a million of Ahiska Turks live in Turkey, Kazakhstan, Russia, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, the U.S. and Ukraine.