Crimean Tatar Resource Center

Statement by Zarema Bariieva for round table “Human rights violations in the occupied Crimea and discrimination against the Crimean Tatar people”

25 November 2019

Good day.

Dear ladies and gentlemen,

This is almost the 6th year of occupation of Crimea by Russia….

Having occupied Crimea in 2014, in violation of international law, Russia began systemic violations of human rights. Russian repressive practices are gaining more and more momentum. Searches, arrests, detentions are not single episodes any more but systemic and institutionalized.

Every day, human rights defenders record dozens of cases of human rights violations throughout Crimea, including violations of Freedom of thought, conscience, religion, opinion, expression, association and assembly. The occupation power is trying to find more and more artificial reasons to arrest completely innocent people, accusing them of crimes that they have never committed. They want to punish the Crimean Tatar people and pro-Ukrainian activists for their firm stance and non-violent resistance. Under the guise of fighting against terrorist organizations and their leaders, the occupation authorities are fighting against dissent and socially active citizens. The number of people deprived of their   freedom in those politically motivated cases continues to grow.

According to the Crimean Tatar Resource Center the total number of political prisoners in Crimea has reached 98 people: 87 of them are held in pre-trial detention centers and prisons in the occupied Crimea and the Russian Federation while other 11 are sentenced to probation. Out of 98 people on the list 79 are the representatives of the indigenous Crimean Tatar people.

Since the beginning of the occupation of Crimea, Russia has prosecuted 63 Crimeans for allegedly participating in or organizing the activities of Hizb ut-Tahrir,  most of them have already been illegally transferred to the territory of the Russian Federation. 19 were sentenced to a term of 5 to 19 years in high security prisons. Just for the 9 months of 2019, there were recorded 69 cases of illegal transportation of political prisoners, 64 of which targeted the representatives of the indigenous Crimean Tatar people.

What is more, many activists who had to flee the peninsula are arrested by illegal courts in absentia and are put on the international wanted list.

Repressions against activists who did not support occupation of Crimea took also the forms of kidnappings and killings. Since March 2014  18 people have been missing on the territory of the temporarily occupied Crimea including activists of the Crimean Tatar movement, the civil initiative Ukrainian people’s house and Automaidan and Euromaidan and their fate remains unknown.

Most of the cases of capturing people happen by the same scenario persons in the uniform of law enforcement services force a victim into a car and take him or her to an unknown destination.

Activists of CTRC regularly inform about the murders committed in different parts of the peninsula.  The total number of murdered people since 2014 makes 23. The recent victim was a 41 year old Crimean Tatar Lumanov Ridvan who was found dead in the beginning of November 2019.

The illegal actions of the occupation authorities turned into real tragedies first of all for the families of repressed people. More than 170 children in Crimea were left without their fathers and breadwinners. Most of them survived stress. They saw how the armed law enforcers in masks used physical force, insulted and took their fathers from their homes after the searches carried out in their houses. All these children require psychological  assistance.

 Over the span of 9 months in 2019, there were recorded 80 searches in the occupied Crimea, 62 of which were carried out in the households of Crimean Tatars. Searches regularly conducted in Crimean mosques and Ukrainian Cathedrals.

Since the occupation of Crimea there is a negative tendency of persecution Crimean Tatar women under false accusations. About  60 Crimean Tatar women were left without husbands. Here is the case in point: Fatma Ismailova was left without a father,  brother and a husband who were  illegally detained and arrested by FSB. Thus in only this family three women were left without husbands.

A common practice of psychological violence against wives and mothers of political prisoners is the denial to visit their husbands. They often do not see each other for several months.

In addition to refusing to grant visits, political prisoners in Crimea are illegally transferred to the territory of  the Federation and obtruded Russian passports and citizenship, while Russia actively tries to substitute the population of Crimea by ethnic Russians using hybrid deportation and changing the demographic composition of the population.

President Vladimir Putin’s occupation regime is undertaking systemic repressions also against free and independent media outlets and civic journalists.

According to the Institute of mass information over 1200 media outlets had to shut down in Crimea since 2014. Russia also blocks access to Ukrainian web sites. Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar Journalists who dare express views different from the official Russian position in the occupied territories are being jailed and persecuted as in the case with Mykola Semena - a well know Crimean independent journalist claiming that Crimea is a part of Ukraine was sentenced and banned to write.

Any attempt to protest or hold peaceful one-man protest is nipped in the bud, heavily broken and suppressed. People are imposed huge administrative fines and have to raise funds to cover these fines.

The ongoing pressure is transforming into the genocide of an entire Crimean Tatar people whose representative body was also prohibited in 2016.

Unfortunately Russia ignores the decisions of the UN ICJ and forbids any activity of Mejlis in Crimea, continues to rewrite the historygraphy, close Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian schools and classes.

We demand that Russia fulfills its international obligations, stop discrimination against indigenous Crimean Tatar people and illegal prosecution of all residents of Crimea, stop human rights violations in the occupied Ukrainian territories, release all political prisoners and restore the territorial integrity of Ukraine.