The video news of the German media organization DW Turkish titled "The story of the Circassians from the Caucasus to Turkey | The most Circassians in the world live in Turkey" set the stage for a new discussion. In the video, Circassian researcher and writer Fahri Huvaj said, "The highest Circassian population is in Turkey, and unfortunately, the biggest assimilation is in Turkey." These statements of Huvaj caused controversy.
After the discussions, the Caucasus Associations Federation (KAFFED), the largest umbrella organization of the Circassians living in Turkey, made a statement and said, "The fact that the Circassian language is in the category of 'endangered languages' despite such a large population is the natural result of assimilation, whatever the reason."
Some news sites accused DW Turkish of separatism.
The "Çerkes Forumu" account, in its social media post, said, "Attention to all! As the Circassian Forum and the Circassians in Turkey, we never accept the claims of the German DW channel against Turkey. We are against all formations against the national unity and solidarity of the Republic of Turkey. We are Circassian. No Traitor Will Come From Us.”
GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS REACT
Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın and AK Parti Spokesperson Ömer Çelik also reacted to DW Turkish by supporting the sharing of the "Çerkes Forumu" account on their social media accounts.
Kalın said, "Our Circassian brothers gave the best response to this treacherous and manipulative news. Everyone, including DW Turkish, should know that we will never let those who want to start a fraternal fight and conflict in Turkey. Let our unity and solidarity be their greatest fear."
AK Parti Deputy Chairman and Party Spokesperson Ömer Çelik shared the following statements on his social media account:
"Our Circassian brothers rejected the baseless claims of the German DW channel. They described the provocative allegations expressed under the name of so-called news as 'claims against Turkey' and gave the necessary answer. May our Circassian brothers exist. May our unity be eternal…"
KAFFED made a written statement on the discussions. The statement was published with the signature of Ümit Dinçer, who was elected KAFFED Chairman at the General Assembly on Sunday.
In the statement, which also provides information about the historical background of the exile from the Caucasus to the Ottoman lands, "It is true that Circassians are experiencing a phenomenon of assimilation in Turkey, where there are 4-7 million Circassians today, due to the lack of conditions for preserving and developing their mother tongue and cultural identity as a separate people." expressions were used.
It was also emphasized that assimilation is common among the Circassians living in Turkey and one of the reasons for this is some policies implemented in the past.
AK Parti Manisa Deputy Murat Baybatur reacted to the news of the DW channel, "These fifth column activities are activities that we know and are used to and that are always carried out for our country. But we Circassians do not put a premium on this. We are extremely happy to live under the umbrella of the Republic of Turkey."
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CIRCASSIANS' EXILE?
Kafkas Foundation Board Member (2014-2021) and General Manager (2017-2019) Yusuf Tunçbilek evaluated the controversial news of DW Turkish titled "The Story of the Circassians from the Caucasus to Turkey" to Anadolu Agency Analysis Desk.
Tunçbilek said, “Circassians are a nation with painful exile stories that reached the level of genocide, symbolized by the date of May 21, 1864. But the real responsible for this is the Russian Empire, as everyone knows. The honorable resistance of all Caucasian peoples, especially Imam Shamil, continued for centuries. However, when the struggle against the Russian Empire could not be continued any longer, Circassians had to pay the painful bill of the Caucasian-Russian Wars.”
The Ottoman Empire was the largest country of Muslims, which embraced the immigrants and supported them materially and morally to settle in new homelands in Anatolia. In the Republic of Turkey, this process continued in a similar way. After the First and Second World Wars, migrations from the Caucasus to Turkey took place in small groups.
As a result of all these migration movements, Circassians mainly concentrated in Turkey and managed to re-establish their lives here. Circassians also took an active role in the establishment of the Turkish Republic. They were able to take place in the Ottoman Empire and the modern Turkish Republic without any discrimination in administrative and military positions.
CLAIMS OF ASIMILATION AGAINST CIRCASSIANS
Circassians can take positions in important offices of the Republic of Turkey without being subjected to any discrimination.
In 2004, Circassian broadcasting began on TRT. As of the 2012-2013 academic year, many languages were taught as elective courses in schools. Today, this process, which includes the Caucasian languages Adyghe, Abazin and Georgian, still continues. As a continuation of these reforms, Caucasian Languages and Cultures departments were opened in various universities.
In Russia, the opposite is the case. In the Caucasus, television and education opportunities in the local language are being restricted day by day. Immigration to Turkey for religious and economic reasons still continues from Adygea, Karachay-Cherkess and Kabardino-Balkaria regions where Circassians live intensely.