“INVASION OF CRIMEA BY RUSSIA AND HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AGAINST CRIMEAN TATARS”
ASSOCIATION OF CRIMEAN TATARS
22 October 2014
The invasion of Crimea by Russia is considered to be a clear violation of international law by all Crimean Tatars living in diaspora. Crimean Tatars in diaspora persistently repeat this view at every occasion and platform.
Some of human rights violations against Crimean Tatars since the invasion of Crimea on 27 February 2014 are as follows:
Dismissals from office
They have been discharging the government employees who have not delivered their Ukraine passports.
They allow those who handed in their passports to maintain their jobs on condition that they accept Russian citizenship and pledge loyalty to serve Russia.
They are conducting raids on only Crimean Tatars’ houses. Even before dawn, at around 5 am in the morning, with the raids by soldiers fully equipped with automatic guns, they are creating a state of terror reminding of the 1944 Deportation. They are searching religious publications that are freely distributed in Ukraine but mentioned to be forbidden in Russia. Intentionally placing arms and narcotic drugs in targeted houses in some raids, they are trying to accuse house residents.
Mosque and religious school raids
They carry out armed raids against the mosques where Crimean Tatars perform their religious rituals and the religious schools where basic religious courses are taught.
Disabling the legitimate organs and leaders of Crimean Tatars
Once their campaigns conducted to disgrace Mr. Mustafa Abdulcemil Kırımoğlu, the leader of Crimean Tatars, have failed, they did not allow him to enter his homeland and brought a five year ban on his entry to Crimea. They imposed punitive fine on those Crimean Tatars who came to welcome their leaders at the border on 03 May 2014.
The same five year ban was brought against Mr. Refat Çubarov, the President of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, who had to attend the Mejlis meeting which they were forced to held out of Crimea, while reentering Crimea.
Having considered that the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People had been responsible for the low level of participation in elections held on 14 September 2014 in Crimea, they organized another armed raid against the Mejlis building on 15 September 2014, surrounded the building by the armed forces in the morning of 16 September and sealed the Mejlis building the next day. They declared that they had seized all assets of the Crimea Fund which is the owner of the Mejlis building. They also dismissed the Local Mejlis in Bahçesaray from their building.
They established so-called Crimean Tatar Institutions as alternative to the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People. Now, they are attempting to reshape the National Qurultay of the Crimean Tatar People (Supreme Assembly) through these so-called Crimean Tatar Institutions and organizations.
The National Qurultay of the Crimean Tatar People is the self-governing and decision making body of the Crimean Tatar People, consisting of delegates elected among themselves respecting the democratic rules and principles. The Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People is the executive and administrative organ of Crimean Tatars, consisting of 33 members elected by the Qurultay.
Disabling the Crimean Tatar media
Due to the seizure of the assets of Crimea Fund, the “Avdet (Return)” newspaper and “Yıldız (Star)” journal have also been forced out from the Mejlis building, where they had been operating and using as their administrative headquarters.
State supports given to the Crimean Tatar newspapers as follows “Kırım (Crimea)”, “Yanı Dünya (New World)” and “Golos Kırıma” were stopped. Not having been able to pay even the salaries of their personnel since the invasion, these newspapers are desperately facing the risk of closure at any time, even though their personnel have been working on a voluntary basis.
Another ban on entering Crimea was brought against Mr. İsmet Yüksel, the Coordinator of Crimean News Agency (QHA), for a five year period. Later, Mrs. Gayana Yüksel, the General Director of QHA, was also questioned by FSB (Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation) for hours while entering Crimea.
They are also keeping the managers of the “ATR” Crimean Tatar TV Channel under pressure regarding the programs to be shown on the channel.
They have restricted community organizations (mass gatherings) to be held by Crimean Tatars. In spite of the 70th anniversary of the Deportation of Crimean Tatars, they did not permit to hold the annual 18 May Mourning Meeting in Aqmescit (Simferopol) in which 35-40 thousand people participate. Moreover, they harassed the people during the 18 May mourning meetings held in other locations by flying helicopters continuously over them.
Since the invasion, 18 young Crimean Tatars were kidnapped. The corpse of Reşat Ametov who was abducted on 3 March 2014 was found on 15 March 2014 in a vacant land. His dead body clearly proved that he had been terribly tortured. The corpse of 25 year old Edem Asanov who was reported to be missing in Kezlev (Evpatoria) on 29 September 2014 was found on 6 October 2014. His family was made declare that Edem Asanov had committed suicide.
Crimean Tatar families started to live in fear and nobody wants to go out when it is dark in the evenings.
Plans for deporting those who have not taken Russian citizenship from Crimea
It was determined by the Russian Federation that the number of persons who may take residency permit in Crimea on the basis of foreign status was 5.400. In this case, it may come into question that the Crimean Tatars who have not taken Russian citizenship and tens of thousands of unregistered Crimean Tatars who have been living in Crimea so far be deported from Crimea.
Violations of Right to Fair Trial
The Crimea peninsula has been subjected to Ukraine law for 25 years. Citizens of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea have lived in accordance with the Ukraine judgment rules and laws. With the invasion of Crimea, Russian Federation laws that are completely foreign for the citizens of Crimea were put into force in Crimea. All citizens of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea regardless of their ethnicity are face to face with the laws and practices of the invading state. Taking into consideration the records of the Russian Federation before the European Court of Human Rights, the number of cases in which the right to a fair trial principle set forth in the European Convention on Human Rights is ignored by Russia will increase in Crimea.
In either citizenship and residency permit cases or punitive fines imposed on themselves following democratic actions, Crimean Tatars started to face court decisions in which the principle of right to a fair trial is violated. This situation also emphasizes that the rights of democratic actions and demands of Crimean Tatars and/or citizens of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea who are against the invasion are restricted. Individuals are now threatened by administrative punitive fines. It is understood from the practice and statements of Crimea Public Prosecution Office that individuals shall be sentenced to prison, restricting their freedoms.
Russification of Education
Even though education in Crimean Tatar language seems to be legally possible, there are practices in place that practically make the education in Crimean Tatar language impossible. Crimean Tatar spoken classes were abolished in many schools where they used to be offered in the past. In addition, they started to implement curricula based on Russian sources in schools.
Bans on Books
In Crimea, Ukrainian has become a forbidden language. They started to exterminate the books in Ukrainian in libraries by burning them.
Since the invasion, the number of immigrants leaving Crimea and migrating to other countries has reached 19.000. Especially, it is expected that, as the decisions and pressures on citizenship and residency permit mentioned above, the number of immigrants and refugees will multiply in folds.
Sanctions against those who condemn the invasion
The Russian Federation is also imposing sanctions against her own citizens who condemn the invasion of Crimea. Fevziye Bayramova and Nail Nabiulla, activists in the Republic of Tatarstan, were imposed punitive fines by courts on the ground that they made declarations against the invasion of Crimea. They searched Fevziye Bayramova’s house and seized her computer and documents. Some individuals holding demonstration against the invasion in Moscow have been reported to have been arrested.