On February 23, 1918, the legendary leader of the Crimean Tatar people was brutally executed by the Bolshevik Black Sea sailors in Aqyar (Sevastopol), Crimea. He was only thirty three years old, in the prime of his life. In his famous speech to historic first Crimean Tatar Qurultay on November 26,1917, Çelebicihan had stated: ”…The deep wounds inflicted upon the Tatar social life by the Russian absolute rule, oppression and tyranny until the twentieth century, continues to bleed…” He could have escaped Crimea as some of his friends advised him to do when the political situation worsened and became too dangerous for the young leader to survive. Numan Çelebicihan, however, decided to remain in Crimea and pledge to heal the bleeding wounds of his people. He had expressed this clearly in one of his renown poems “Ant Etkenmen-I Have Pledged “ , which became the lyrics of the Crimean Tatar national anthem. He had declared “Ant etkenmen milletimniñ yarasını sarmağa- I pledged to heal the wounds of my people…”, and he had sacrificed his life to keep his promise to the Crimean Tatar people. It was ninety three years ago that Çelebicihan was arrested by the Bolsheviks, imprisoned and finally murdered on February 23rd, 1918.
Today as we remember Numan Çelebicihan, we bow our heads in respect for our courageous leader’s memory. May Allah’s blessings be upon him! May he rest in peace forever!
The following poem “Bastırık” was written by Çelebicihan while imprisoned in Aqyar (Sevastopol). This year we would like to dedicate it to Danial Ametov of Avdet NGO who is currently imprisoned in the Correctional Labor Colony in Village of Daryevka, Kherson-Ukraine for fighting for his people’s rights.
Bastırık** (Prison Cell)
Four stone walls, and at the top a tiny window,
Torment rather than light enters here through the iron bars.
Ugly shadows, and green mold froths everywhere,
A wooden bed, rotten food, and cold air blows here and there.
The caretaker(guard) sweeps the floors, pouring water over dirt,
Openly curses at one’s mother, looking straight at one’s face.
The evenings spread their dark curtains over this darkened place,
Loneliness brings live nightmares to one’s lonely face.
The poor heart palpitates, one feels goose bumps everywhere,
First, one’s spirit rises high, then drops right to the empty floor.
The guards check this place, walking and searching,
Checking on the heavy lock four to five times an hour.
To this locked, colder than ice, grave like room,
Enters more good people than the criminals.
It is fait accompli once you enter here,
Or you go insane, unable to endure the unjust fortune there.
*Çelebicihan is the name selected by him during his student years in Istanbul. “…Numan Efendi took his last name Çelebi and combined it with Cihan from his mother’s family name Cihanşah and created the name Çelebicihan… it is one word, not two…” (Şevki Bektöre, Antlı Şehit, Kırım,No.8, 1961,p.148)
**This is a rough translation from Crimean Tatar to English by Mubeyyin Batu Altan
Von Mubeyyin Batu Altan, Crimean Tatar Research and Information Center, New York, 23. Februar 2011 (auch veröffentlicht bei QHA)