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Meshtekistan (Georgia)

Last modified: 2013-12-02 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Meshtekistan]

Flag of Meshtekistan - Image by Ivan Sache, 23 March 2001

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Presentation of Meshtekistan

According to James Minahan (Nations Without States, 1996 [mnh96]), Meshtekistan is the homeland of the Meskhtekians in the Republic of Georgia. The Meskhtekians are comprised of several small groups of Muslim peoples, mostly Shia, which formerly lived in southern Georgia near the Turkish border. During the Second World War Stalin had them deported to Central Asia, perhaps because he suspected them of pro-Turkish sympathies (their home areas were never occupied by the Germans as was the case with the other deported peoples - Crimean Tatars, Kalmycks and North Caucasians). The various deported Muslim peoples from south Georgia were rehabilitated in the post-Stalin era, but not allowed back to their former homes. Their shared experiences and fate led to the development of a sense of shared identity, and they adopted the collective name Meskhtekian (Meskhi was the name of one of the component peoples - Georgian-speaking Shi'ites) and began calling their former homeland Meskhtekistan.
In the aftermath of the breakup of the Soviet Union many Meskhtekians suffered during ethnic violence, and at the time the book was written were living in refugee camps, unwelcome in their old Georgian homeland and their new central Asian homes.

Ned Smith, 23 March 2001

According to Roger Rosen (The Georgian Republic, 1992), Meshketi or Meshketians were the inhabitants of Samtskhe or Meskheti, a Georgian land east of Ajaria. They were and are Georgians and played an important part in Georgian history. The famous writer Rustaveli, author of "Knight in the Pantherskin" (c. 1200), the national epic of the Georgians, was a Meshketian. The most infamous Georgian, Joseph Vissarionovitsh Dzhugashvili, aka Stalin, banished them for no reason at all from their homeland.

Jarig Bakker, 24 March 2001

Minahan, however, draws a clear distinction between Meskhi (Georgian-speaking Muslims) and Meskhtekians, who are comprised of not just Meskhi, but also Khemsils (Armenian-speaking Muslims who lived in Georgia), Shi'ite Ajars, Georgian Kurds and Karapapakh Turks. He claims that the "Meskhtekian" identity arose in this amalgamation during their enforced resettlement in Central Asia, and the flag he described applies to this larger grouping of exiles, at least according to his report.

Ned Smith, 24 March 2001

Flag of Meshtekistan

The flag of the Meskhtekian national movement is described by Minahan [mnh96] as a four color flag - three horizontal stripes of white, red and black with a vertical green stripe at the hoist bearing a white crescent. From the line drawing accompanying the entry the flag appears to have a proportion of 2:3. All four stripes appear the same width. The crescent is centered in the hoist stripe and extends slightly above and below the middle horizontal stripe.

Ned Smith, 23 March 2001