In Warsaw, the problems of the indigenous peoples of Crimea were discussed on the sidelines of the OSCE meeting

September 28, 2016

On September 27, Warsaw (Poland) hosted a side event “Discrimination against Indigenous Peoples in the conditions of modern Ukrainian-Russian war conflict”. The event was held within the framework of the OSCE Human Dimension Meeting.

The side event began with the screening of the documentary by an American journalist Christina Pashyn "A struggle for home. The Crimean Tatars".

Speakers were Eskender Bariiev (moderator) – a member of the Majlis of the Crimean Tatar People and the chairman of the Crimean Tatar Resource Center, Gayana Yuksel – a member of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, Elvin Kadyrov – a member of the NGO "Crimean Tatars Community", and Edem Semedliayev – a lawyer defending the political prisoners in Crimea.

Eskender Bariiev told about the violations of individual rights of the residents of Crimea and the collective rights of the indigenous Crimean Tatar people. In particular, he was referring to the issues of prohibition of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, a representative body of the Crimean Tatars, as well as the mass raids, detentions and arrests. According to Mr. Bariiev, Russia’s actions violate international law and international instruments that were elaborated in cooperation with Russia’s own representatives.

"For such a small nation, the only guarantor of preservation and development is the international law. Therefore, due to the Russian aggression in Crimea the Mejlis and all the Crimean Tatar people have taken a position of rule of international law", – stated Mr. Bariiev.

Gayana Yuksel brought up the point of the persecutions of the ethnic mass media and the lack of freedom of speech in Crimea.

According to her, on the peninsula are recorded the violations of all the articles of the European Convention on Human Rights. Gayana Yuksel reminded that once in Crimea 1350 media sources were registered, but after February 2014 the situation has changed. According to her, the Stalinist methods of media control returned to peninsula (surveillance, censorship, forcing the journalists to cooperate with the FSB bodies, penalties, etc.).

"As of today, more than 250 facts of violation against the journalists and media were recorded in Crimea. This list is constantly updated. Before the peninsula occupation, 15 national media were operating there. As of April 2016, the branches of the 10 main pro-Ukrainian media were forced to leave Crimea", – said Gayana Yuksel.

Elvin Kadyrov informed about the persecutions on religious grounds in Crimea.

According to him, nowadays more than 3000 books are banned in Crimea.

"Before, we could read without restrictions, we had a wide and diverse libraries with books and magazines, but now more than 3000 writings are strictly forbidden", – stated Mr. Kadyrov. 

Edem Semedliayev told about the terrible conditions of confinement for the defendants in the so-called "Hizb ut-Tahrir" case.

Speakers informed the participants about the ongoing repressions and violations of rights of the indigenous Crimean Tatar people in Crimea, such as the illegal trials against the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, a representative body of the Crimean Tatars that was elected in democratic elections. They pointed out that the charges in the case on "extremism" were unfounded, and the court's decision to ban the Mejlis was legitimizing persecution of the Crimean Tatars and could presage further repressions.

Eskender Bariiev recalled that on April 26 the so-called Supreme Court of the Republic of Crimea banned the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, a representative body of the Crimean Tatars, thus having violated the collective right of the Crimean Tatars as an indigenous people of Crimea to the management of their representative institutions, as well as the Articles 5, 18 and 19 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Speakers called on the international community to send the notes to the Russian Federation, stressing their commitment to ensure the rights of the Crimean Tatars as the indigenous people of Crimea in order to avoid further escalation of tensions between the Crimean Tatars and the de facto authorities.

Participants of the side event were given the booklets "Political prisoners of the Crimea", "Missing and dead during the period of occupation" in Russian and English, as well as the legal qualification of the Crimean Tatar people's deportation as an international crime against the indigenous people, prepared by CTRC expert Boris Babin, in English and French.

The organizers of the side event were the Crimean Tatar Resource Center and the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People.