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Crimea: Actions against Crimean Tatars Could Lead to Criminalization of Ethnic Group
In response to a prosecutor from Crimea’s occupation government suspending the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People (the highest representative body of the Crimean Tatars), Freedom House released the following statement:
“Freedom House condemns the decision by occupation authorities in Crimea’s decision to intensify its discrimination against Crimean Tatars by suspending their representative council,” said Robert Herman, vice president for international programs. “The de facto authorities are moving closer to criminalizing Crimean Tatars as an ethnic group.”
A prosecutor from Crimea’s occupation authorities accused the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People of being an extremist organization on February 15, 2016, and asked the Supreme Court of the Republic of Crimea to prohibit the Mejlis’ activity. On April 12, 2016, the prosecutor suspended the Mejlis until the court hears the case.
Since its occupation of Crimea began in February 2014, Russia and occupation authorities under its control have harassed and persecuted anyone who voices opposition to or is perceived as an opponent of the occupation, in particular Crimea’s large Crimean Tatar minority population. Authorities have closed Crimean Tatar media; jailed, detained, and disappeared Crimean Tatar and other activists; and sought to create alternative pro-Russian Crimean Tatar institutions to replace authentic leaders and groups. A recent report by the Council of Europe said the criminalization of the Mejlis would be “a new level of repression targeting the Crimean Tatar community as a whole.”
For more information, see the joint report on Putting a Stop to Impunity for Human Rights Violations in Crimea published in March 2016, and the Council of Europe report on human rights in Crimea published in April.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.