By Mikolas Katilus:
TatarsFateSince the occupation of the Crimean Peninsula by Russian invaders in 2014, the situation of human rights in Crimea has been getting worse and worse day after day. It refers especially to Crimean Tatars as they constitute the main opposition of the occupation authorities. The ban of Mejlis in April 2016 became the most vivid proof of the persecution of the Crimea’s indigenous population. Member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Oliver Loode called this solution to be the “offence against all Crimean Tatar people”.
It should be pointed out that lately Crimean Tatars have been exposed to the false charges in extremism exceptionally due to their overt manifest against annexation and display of willfulness in pursuit of their rights. Crimean Tatars managed to preserve their identity as a part of the Ottoman Empire and later on within the Russian Empire. They overcame all the challenges bided by the Soviet times (1944 deportation) and in tens of years returned to Crimea and resettled on the native soil. In 2014 this strong-willed people declared that they didn’t accept and would never resign themselves to the occupation of Crimea by Russia.
Evidently such state of affairs not merely misfits but scares the occupation authorities. That’s why within the Crimean peninsula persecutions, arrests, murders and kidnappings are always under way. Hence a member of the Crimean Tatars World Congress Ervin Ibragimov was kidnapped right from his house in Crimea; meanwhile another Crimean Tatar Mumine Alieva was murdered. Russian special services officers have recently warned Crimean Tatar journalist Lilia Budjurova on the “inadmissibility of violating the legislation on struggle against extremism” merely for her Facebook post calling on to support children of the arrested Crimean Tatars. In accordance with the new Russian laws adopted within the framework of antiterrorist campaign such actions may result in a long-term imprisonment. Unfortunately such cases are not occasional.
On January 18, 2015 Crimean conference, arranged by the Committee on Crimean Tatar Rights Protection, took place in Simferopol. In course of this conference its participants called on the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon “to prevent destruction” of Crimean Tatars. There were already rumors about the cases of kidnapping of Crimean Tatars and crude violations of their rights. “In the aftermath of another occupation of Crimea its indigenous population – Crimean Tatars – has been exposed to the terror and abuse”. The leader of Crimean Tatars, Ukrainian deputy Mustafa Jemilev supposes that searches, interrogations and persecutions of Crimean Tatars by the Russian officials are carried out with the aim to compel them to leave the peninsula.
It is an undisguised discrimination! Even though according to the Article 2 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, they (aforementioned peoples) are “free and equal to all other peoples and… have the right to be free from any kind of discrimination, in the exercise of their rights, in particular that based on their indigenous origin or identity”.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey Mevlut Cavusoglu has also touched upon the issue of Crimean Tatars and stated that Russia hasn’t fulfilled any of its promises to improve the situation of Crimean Tatars. According to the coordinator of the Crimean Contact Group on Human Rights Abdureshit Jepparov today’s pressure on Crimean Tatars is unprecedented.
It is no wonder that Crimean Tatars have not put up with the occupation and aren’t ready to accept Putin’s cult of personality, and so in spite of the desire of the current authorities they consider Crimea to be Ukrainian territory and Ukraine to be the country having done whatever it took after regaining its independence to bring Crimean Tatars back to their native soil. Upon annexation of the peninsula by Russia the law on repatriation has never appeared therefore nowadays Crimean Tatars are put on the same footing as foreigners and it is undeniably unfair. Such a state of affairs would hardly ever change under conditions of Russian occupation.
All the above mentioned facts attest that the international community should consider the Crimean occupation issue and the infringement of Crimean Tatars’ rights, who are the indigenous people of Crimea, as the same problem. Unfortunately up to this time it hasn’t happened as while taking the decision to extend sanctions against Russia for its annexation of Crimea until 2017 the European Union hasn’t even mentioned the problems of Crimean Tatars neither persecutions of the activist nor the Medjlis ban.
International community must realize that confirmation by the Western democracy of its encouragement to Crimean Tatars and their inherent rights within the Crimean peninsula constitutes their only chance to carry on the repatriation process and preserve Crimean Tatars ethnos.
— Article first published in The Ground Report