Speech by Eskender Bariiev at the meeting of the 20th session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

April 30, 2021

Speech by Eskender Bariiev, Head of the Board of the Crimean Tatar Resource Center, Head of the Department of Legal  and Foreign Affairs of Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, at the meeting of the 20th session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Item 4: Discussion of the 6 mandated areas of action of the Permanent Forum (economic and social development, culture, environment, education, health and human rights), taking into account the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Saygyly kardashlar!

Dear Chairman! Brothers and sisters!

I express my gratitude to the member countries that supported the resolutions The situation with human rights in Crimea and Problem of Militarization of Autonomous Republic of Crimea and City of Sevastopol, Ukraine, as well as Parts of Black Sea and Sea of Azov’ adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2020.

The recommendations of the Permanent Forum are an important tool for dialogue between governments and indigenous peoples and help prevent violations of the rights of indigenous peoples.

Unfortunately, not all states that declare their support for indigenous peoples are de facto implementing the recommendations of the Permanent Forum.

Despite the fact that the Russian authorities of Crimea officially recognized the Crimean Tatar language as one of the state languages, the scope of its use is very narrow, there have been cases of threats to dismiss workers for speaking their native language, which is a violation of articles 2, 8 and 17 of the Declaration

Before the occupation, there were 15 schools and 384 classes in Crimea with the Crimean Tatar language of instruction. According to the data of the de facto authorities, for 2021 there are 7 schools with the Crimean Tatar language of instruction, 3 with Russian and Crimean Tatar and 119 classes, which is a violation of Articles 8, 13, 14, 21 and 22 of the Declaration.

Items of cultural heritage of the Crimean Tatars were taken out of Crimea after the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 1783.

Since 2014, the Russian government has been falsifying the historiography of Crimea, including in school history textbooks. Conducts excavations without the consent of the representative body of the indigenous people, and exports artifacts to Russia. This violates Article 15 of the Declaration.

Under the guise of restoration authentic materials of the Bakhchisaray historical and cultural reserve Khan's Palace are destroyed, articles 8, 11, 15, 31 of the Declaration are violated.

Violating articles 8, 25, 26, 27 of the Declaration, the Russian authorities illegally use the natural resources of Crimea.

Biological resources and minerals are being extracted, the Black Sea shelf is being developed. Quarrying has led to the destruction of the Crimean landscape and has a negative impact on the traditional economy of the Crimean Tatars. The rivers dried up, juniper forests were destroyed. Due to explosions, houses of local residents are destroyed. As a result of the construction of the Tavrida highway in Crimea, more than 237,000 trees and shrubs have been destroyed.

Due to the irrational use of fresh water by the occupiers and the settlement by Russians in Crimea, a real humanitarian catastrophe may arise.

In Crimea, the Russian authorities are building military bases and importing military equipment. Military exercises are held regularly. These actions violate articles 29, 30 of the Declaration.

The FSB is persecuting human rights activists of the indigenous peoples of Crimea. In 2020, 229 arrests, 45 interrogations, 26 searches and 199 arrests of Crimean Tatars were recorded in Crimea. This is a direct violation of Article 12 of the Declaration

I offer the following recommendations:

1.Develop programs to protect leaders and human rights defenders of indigenous peoples who are persecuted by states, incl. those who are forced to live outside their native land;

2. Establish interactions between the UN Permanent Forum and other international organizations for synergy in the implementation of the collective rights of indigenous peoples;

3. It is necessary to develop recommendations for ensuring the security of indigenous peoples in the context of an interstate conflict;

4. It is necessary to share the positive experience of states that have national action plans to protect the rights of indigenous peoples. We need to implement positive practices.

 Thank you for your attention!