Thursday, March 14, 2013

Noman Chelebidjikan 1885-1918 A Crimean Tatar Martyr

Recently the library marked the anniversary of the tragic death of the famous Crimean Tatar politician, writer and poet, Noman Chelebidjikan. He was the first president of the Crimean People’s Republic which existed in Crimea from December 1917 to January 1918 and was executed by the Bolsheviks on February 23, 1918.

Noman Chelebidjikan (also spelled Çelebicihan) was unknown to me, as he most likely is to most people outside the Crimean Tatar world. But after reading about his life, I wanted to write a short blog post about this individual in Crimean Tatar history who sacrificed so much for the Crimean Tatar people.

Chelebidjikan was born in a village in the Congar region of Crimea in 1885. He studied at the local school and then, with the help of relatives, went on to study at one of the well -known madrassas of that time. In 1908 he went to Istanbul to continue his studies, eventually graduating from law school. While attending the university, he founded the Young Tatar Writers’ Association and published his first literary works. He was also one of the original founders of the Crimean Tatar Student Association and also the organization “Vatan” (Homeland) which became the seed for the political organization Milliy Firqa of the independence movement in Crimea.

After graduating from law school, Chelebidjikan returned to Crimea and continued his involvement in the independence movement. He was elected as a representative to the first Crimean Tatar Congress, known as the Qurultay, and on November 26, 1917, was elected president of the newly established Crimean People’s Republic. The Crimean People’s Republic was the first attempt in the Muslim world to establish a nation that was both democratic and secular.

However, the Republic was short lived.  A month after its founding in November of 1917, the Bolshevik forces invaded Crimea, capturing Sevastopol, and a month later, disbanded the newly formed Crimean government. Most of the leaders of the government fled to Turkey or hid in the mountains, but Chelebidjikan elected to remain in Simferopol to try and negotiate with the Bolsheviks in the hopes of their developing an understanding of the interests of the Tatars. But realizing the necessity to erase all traces of Tatar national leadership, the Bolsheviks ordered Chelebidjikan arrested and put into prison in Sevastopol.  A few days later, on February 23, 1918, at the age of 33, Chelebidjikan was executed without trial, his body cut into pieces and thrown into the sea.

But Chelebidjikan and the sacrifice he made has never been forgotten by the Crimean Tatar people. His presence lives on in the poems and writings he left behind, and one of his more famous poems,  Ant Etkemen (I Pledged), has become the national anthem of the Crimean Tatar people.  Every year, events and publications mark the anniversary of his death and keep alive his memory.

The story of Chelebidjikan’s life along with translations of some of his poems can be found in this excellent article by Mubeyyin Batu Altan on the International Committee for Crimea website--
Information for this post was also taken from Alan Fischer’s book, The Crimean Tatars (Hoover Institution Press, 1978)


  1. I prefer to explore Crimea by walk and many of my favorite routs are all about walking. Note, however, that in Crimea you can find mountains, hills, prairies, rivers, sandy and rocky beaches, saline's, swamps and walking here requires some fitness. Needless to say that if you are short of time, or not fit enough, or face non-walking weather, you can take a taxi or a public transport to get to some of the places.

  2. It’s very interesting information. Thank you very much.

    Perhaps you know, that an outstanding Tatar historian-scientist D. Iskhakov wrote in 2000: “the real history of Tatars, of the people in every respect historical, is not written yet”.
    However, recently were published books about the unwritten (hidden) real history of Tatars, written by independent Tatar Historian Galy Yenikeyev.
    There are a lot of previously little-known historical facts, as well as 16 maps and illustrations in this book.
    This book presents a new, or rather "well-forgotten old" information about the true history of the Tatars and other Turkic peoples.
    It must be said, that there are many pro-Chinese and Persian falsifications of the "wild nomads" etc. in the official history.
    Therefore, primarily we should know the truth about the meaning of the names "Mongol" and "Tatar" (“Tartar") in the medieval Eurasia:
    the name "Mongol" until the 17th-18th centuries meant belonging to a political community, and was not the ethnic name. While “the name "Tatar" was “the name of the native ethnos (nation) of Genghis Khan …” , “…Genghis Khan and his people did not speak the language, which we now call the "Mongolian”…" (Russian academic-orientalist V.P.Vasiliev, 19th century). This is also confirmed by many other little known facts.
    So in fact Genghis Khan was a Tatar and a great leader of the all Turkic peoples. But with time many of his descendants and tribesmen became spiritually disabled and forgot him and his invaluable doctrine and covenants... Tatars of Genghis Khan -medieval Tatars - were one of the Turkic nations, whose descendants now live in many of the fraternal Turkic peoples of Eurasia - among the Tatars, Kazakhs, Bashkirs, Uighurs, and many others.
    And few people know that the ethnos of medieval Tatars, which stopped the expansion of the Persians and the Chinese to the West of the World in Medieval centuries, is still alive. Despite the politicians of the tsars Romanovs and Bolsheviks dictators had divided and scattered this ethnos to different nations...
    About everything above mentioned and a lot of the true history of the Tatars and other fraternal Turkic peoples, which was hidden from us, had been written, in detail and proved, in the book "Forgotten Heritage of Tatars" (by Galy Yenikeyev).
    There are a lot of previously little-known historical facts, as well as 16 maps and illustrations in this book.

    On the cover of this book you can see the true appearance of Genghis Khan. It is his lifetime portrait. Notes to the portrait from the book says: "...In the ancient Tatar historical source «About the clan of Genghis-Khan» the author gives the words of the mother of Genghis-Khan: «My son Genghis looks like this: he has a golden bushy beard, he wears a white fur coat and rides on a white horse» [34, p. 14]. As we can see, the portrait of an unknown medieval artist in many ways corresponds to the words of the mother of the Hero, which have come down to us in this ancient Tatar story. Therefore, this portrait, which corresponds to the information of the Tatar source and to data from other sources, we believe, the most reliably transmits the appearance of Genghis-Khan...".
    This e-book you can easily find in the Internet, on Smashwords company website: