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Aziza  Uzbekistan (Ahiska Turkish)

Then in 1989, the politicians again started to spread around this old movement about how there were people from a different culture in their territory. So it started all over again, from the place we had moved once, now it came back again. It was the government of Uzbekistan. Even though the President of Uzbekistan was very friendly to the Turkish people, there was a majority working against him. So he was forced to follow the majority and they voted to make the foreign people leave—it didn't apply just to the Turkish people, there were Russian people and they wanted them out too. They wanted only to preserve just the Uzbekistani people.

The Uzbekistani people reacted differently to this—some people did not agree with this decision—some people loved us. They were like family—they were our friends. But some people decided that we had to go. So what they started to burn our houses and damage our farms. They tried to make our lives miserable, thinking that we would go find somewhere else to live. In some cases, the local Uzbekistani people would hide Turkish people in their houses, because they could even be killed. I was pregnant when all of this was happening.

In all of the newspapers—and all of the conversations—we were hearing that the Turkish people had to go. We couldn't live in a community where nobody wanted us. Unlike before when my parents left Georgia, this time they let us choose where to go. They just wanted us to choose our own place to go—and go. So again we closed our house, leaving everything but the luggage, and we left.

Early in the morning—I remember we left early in the morning. I didn't even say goodbye to my parents. I just took my children, my husband, and we left. I couldn't say goodbye to them because of the quarantine. I couldn't leave my house and travel to another village because the police were in control. That is why I didn't say goodbye to anyone. They would let us go to Russia, but we couldn't go to the next village. But, as long as it was a different country, you could go. They even gave us tickets for the airplane if we agreed to go to Russia.

All I took with me was one change of clothes—whatever we had on and maybe one dress for myself and one for each of the children. I also took one cup, and one spoon for each child and for each family member, one fork. I had money in the bank, but I didn't even collect the money. Only after two years, when things had settled down, I came back and I was able to get the money.

So again we were in a foreign land—Russian land—where we didn't speak the language. After two months of living in Russia, the people from Uzbekistan looked for us and said, "Come back to us. We don't wish you bad, it was just the government." The reason why the Uzbekistani people came and looked for us after we left was because no one wanted to go work in the cotton fields. They missed us then because they needed a working class. Even the government admitted that it had been a bad idea, but the Turkish people were mad at them and we decided that we were not coming back.

We have a general rule—we say, "Never look back, only look forward." So since this happened we decide to make the best of the situation. In general, we are very friendly people no matter what happens to us, but at that time we still didn't have our Motherland. We were moving one place to another, and deep down we all missed it. Our hearts are in our Motherland.

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