Crimean Tatar Resource Center

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

30 April 2021

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

Item 4 Discussion on the six mandate areas of the Permanent Forum (economic and social development, culture, environment, education, health and human rights), with reference to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Selyam aleyküm sayğılı hanumlar ve efendiler!

 Chairman! Brothers and sisters!

I would like to express my gratitude to the member states that supported the resolutions "The situation with human rights in Crimea" and "Russian militarization of Crimea, the Black and Azov seas" adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2020.

The Permanent Forum's recommendations are an important tool for dialogue between governments and indigenous peoples, and also contribute to the prevention of violations of the rights of indigenous peoples.

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

Despite the fact that the Russian authorities in Crimea officially recognized the Crimean Tatar language as one of the official languages, the scope of its use is very narrow, there have been cases of threats to fire 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 de facto authorities, in 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 exported from Crimea after the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 1783.

Since 2014, the Russian authorities have been falsifying the historiography of Crimea, including in school history books. They carry out excavations without the consent of the representative body of the indigenous people, and take artifacts to Russia. This violates article 15 of the Declaration.

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

In violation of Articles 8, 25, 26, 27 of the Declaration, the Russian authorities illegally use the natural resources of Crimea.

Extraction of biological resources and minerals is carried out, the shelf of the Black Sea is being developed. The development of quarries led to the destruction of the Crimean landscape and negatively affects the traditional livelihood of the Crimean Tatars. Rivers dried up, juniper forests were destroyed. Due to explosions, houses of local residents were destroyed. As a result of the construction of the Tavryda highway in Crimea, more than 237 thousand trees and bushes were destroyed.

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

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.

FSB persecutes indigenous human rights defenders 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 indigenous leaders and human rights defenders who are persecuted by states, incl. those who are forced to live in exile;

2. To establish interaction of the UN Permanent Forum with 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 introduce good practice.

 Thank you very much for  your attention!