Sabirjan Badretdin: ALI AKISH (1918 - 2011)
ALI AKISH (1918 - 2011)
Ali Akish died today, July 17, 2011, in Ankara, Turkey, at age 93. Ali Akish was a preeminent leader of the Tatar nationalist movement in diaspora. He was born in the city of Hailar (Manchuria), where he attended a local Tatar elementary school before entering a Russian lycee. After completing the lycee in 1936, he went to study at Al-Azhar University in Cairo (Egypt), and in 1938, along with another young nationalist, Ahat Ginish, went to Poland. Akish and Ginish served as technical assistants to Ayaz Iskhaki at the Idel-Ural National Center, where the newspaper “Yanga Milli Yul" (New National Path) was published. Their work was interrupted by the invasion of Poland by the Nazi and Soviet forces.
Akish lived from 1940 to 1966 in Turkey where he was involved with the diaspora national movement. His pamphlet “Problems of Idel-Ural and Soviet Imperialism” printed in 1963 received great attention and provoked repercussions in the USSR in the form of two books, one ostensibly written by the President of the Tatar ASSR, Salikh Batiyev in 1977. In 1966 Ali Akish joined the Tatar-Bashkir Service of Radio Liberty, Inc. In 1983, he retired from this position and went again to Ankara. Over the years he wrote numerous articles in emigree publications and other forums such as Turk Kulturu, and in 1985 published a 59 page booklet, similar to his first, called "Idel-Ural’da Hurriyet Mucadelesi" (Struggle for Freedom in Idel-Ural).
In 1994, after reading Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s book "Last Thrust to the South," he wrote an article for the Turkish newspaper "Milliyet" in which he denounced the Russian nationalists’ imperial and anti-Turkish aspirations. The article was highly significant as one of the first published in Turkey critical of Zhirinovsky and his views.
He was able to visit Kazan, the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan in Russia. On his first visit to Kazan he brought, at his own expense, a computer that he donated to the Tatar Public Center. Akish dedicated his whole life to the liberation of the Tatar people from colonial oppression. The World Tatar League named him honorary president in recognition of his achievements. A school was named in his honor in the city of Chally (Naberezhniye Chelny) in Tatarstan. .
I had the privilege of knowing Ali Akish when I lived in Munich and worked for Tatar Bashkir Service of Radio Liberty. We met many times. He was a special person: gentle, soft-spoken, intelligent and kind. He spoke Tatar, Russian, German, Turkish and English -- all fluently and flawlessly. He will be missed but always remembered.
New York, USA
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