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Zarema Bariieva told the UN about the situation of the Crimean Tatar language in the occupied Crimea

4 May 2022

Manager of the Crimean Tatar Resource Center Zarema Bariieva spoke at the 21st session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples in the framework of item 5a “Dialogue of the Forum with indigenous peoples.”. In her speech, she spoke about the situation of the Crimean Tatar language in the occupied Crimea, as well as what the CTRC is doing to preserve and develop the language of the indigenous people of Ukraine.

Mr. Chair,

Dear brothers and sisters!

With the beginning of the occupation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, the situation with the learning of the Crimean Tatar language in the secondary schools in Crimea has dramatically deteriorated. School administrations find thousands of reasons not to open classes with the Crimean Tatar language of instruction, thus depriving children of their right to education in native language.

During these 8 years of occupation of Crimea, the number of classes with the Crimean Tatar language of instruction and, accordingly, the number of children who are educated in Crimean Tatar language has significantly decreased. So, if in 2013 there were 384 classes, then in 2022 there are only 119.

On April 22, representatives of the so-called Crimean authorities announced that they want to close a secondary Crimean Tatar school No. 2 named after Amet-Khan Sultan in Stary Krym. As it turned out, they want to unite Crimean Tatar school with another city school, which is Greek in fact.

Despite the fact that the occupation authorities “officially” recognized the Crimean Tatar language as one of the state languages, there are no Crimean Tatar versions of the official websites. It is forbidden to use the native language during the so-called court hearings, thus persecuted people are often refused in their right to speak their native language. There were registered several cases of threats of dismissal of workers for speaking their own native language at work, which is a violation of articles 2, 8, 15 and 17 of the Declaration.

 With the beginning of Russia's unjustified full-scale military aggression against Ukraine and the occupation of new territories in southern Ukraine, the occupying authorities are forcing school principals to switch to the Russian curriculum. Thus, the principal of school No 1. in Novoaleksiivka had to evacuate because of the threat to his life.

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), in its Resolution 74/135  (A/RES/74/135)  on  the  Rights  of  Indigenous  Peoples,  proclaimed  the  period  2022-2032  as  the  International  Decade  of  Indigenous  Languages and  called for “urgent steps at the national and international levels” to “preserve, revitalize and promote indigenous languages”. Unfortunately, the occupying authorities, instead of promoting the development of the language, do quite the opposite.

The Ukrainian government, together with Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, developed a Concept for the development of the Crimean Tatar language in Ukraine, but due to the full-scale aggression, this process was forced to stop.

In turn, in 2019, the Crimean Tatar Resource Center translated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in 2021 the European Convention on Human Rights into the Crimean Tatar language.

We are ready to take an active part in the expert work on the Global Plan of Action of the International Decade of Indigenous Languages and share this experience in Ukraine.

In conclusion, I want to express my gratitude to all representatives of the indigenous peoples of the world who condemned Russian aggression against Ukraine, including  three indigenous peoples of Ukraine (Crimean Tatars, Karaites and Krymchaks) who became hostages of this situation.

I call on the indigenous peoples of the world to put more pressure on the Russian Federation to stop the unjustified military aggression against Ukraine.