“Hostages of the Occupation”: Lutfiye Zudiyeva, human rights activist (photo)

June 22, 2020

“When our people are in the current extremely difficult conditions, we will not leave Crimea. I am mentally prepared for serious consequences. I want to live honestly, openly in my homeland, ”said the next hero of the project “ Hostages of the Occupation ”, human rights activist Lutfiye Zudiyeva. She is well known both in Crimea and outside the peninsula – she is the founder of the Crimean Tatar development center for children “ELIF”, which was subjected to inspections and searches. What is repression and pressure – a woman knows firsthand, her rights have also been repeatedly violated. Read more in the material of the Crimean Tatar Resource Center, which was prepared in the frame of the project “Hostages of the Occupation”.

This beautiful, fragile woman, a philologist, a happy wife, a mother of four children, and the director of the Crimean Tatar Development Center for Children “ELIF” did not at all imagine that she would have to protect the rights of adults as well.

The idea to open such a center for preschool children arose in October 2015 due to the fact that there was no option to learn the Crimean Tatar language in state educational institutions.

The center was supposed to comprehensively develop children, to teach them the basics of Islam. It became the reason for all kinds of checks and searches. The first inspection by seven different institutions was carried out only three months after the opening of the center. About 30 books for children in the Crimean Tatar language and geographical maps where Crimea was designated as part of Ukraine were seized.

A few months later a prosecutor’s check showed up. No violations were found. But the center was under constant surveillance, and the head of the center was also under surveillance. In May 2019, during the month of Ramadan, Lutfiye Zudiyeva was detained in the market, where she made purchases for the upcoming iftar (breaking fast), to which all fasting elderly people were invited.

Lutfiye Zudiyeva is confident and she continues her human rights activities.

“I dreamed of teaching children, spending more time with my children, but the circumstances were such that adults, especially families of political prisoners, need my support. Both spheres are equally important to me. I think that checks and detentions are aimed at forcing us to leave Crimea. But at these trying times, we will not leave Crimea. I am mentally prepared for serious consequences. I want to live honestly, openly in my homeland,” says an activist of Crimean Solidarity.

Her husband Seitasan supports her in this dangerous activity.

Project manager: Zarema Bariieva
Author of pictures: Lieniara Abibulaieva
Text writer: Alemkhan Sary
Translation into English: Zarema Bariieva

The project was prepared by the Crimean Tatar Resource Center with the support of the Democracy Grants Program of the US Embassy to Ukraine.