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Crimean Tatar activist attacked and prevented from speaking at a UN conference – this continues a pattern of intimidation of Crimean Tatar people

24 September 2014

Minority Rights Group Europe (MRG) and the Eastern Partnership Minorities Network condemn the recently reported physical attack against the Crimean Tatar activist, Nadir Bekirov which prevented him from attending the UN World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in New York this week. The attack which took place last Thursday, appears to be clearly politically motivated and follows a pattern of ongoing intimidation and threats against indigenous and minority activists and leaders since the occupation of Crimea in March 2014.

MRG together with the Network calls on the authorities of the occupied territories to investigate the current violence and take measures to ensure that the Crimean Tatar and other indigenous populations remain free from violence and discrimination. The human rights organization also raised the issue at the Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva yesterday.

Nadir Bekirov, a renowned indigenous Crimean Tatar activist and scholar reported that four masked men attacked him on his way to the train station in Dzhankoy from Simferopol. His taxi was stopped by a van, the assailants dragged him out of the car, physically assaulted him, took his passport and mobile phone and then left, without taking any money or other valuable possessions. Bekirov immediately reported the incident to the local police.

“No doubt it was a politically motivated action with the purpose to prevent me from my pro-indigenous activism and from leaving Crimea in the near future,” says Bekirov. “The power tactic applied now in Crimea is to block the right of free movement of minority and indigenous activists and leaders.”

Crimean Tatar activists face prosecution and limitations on the enjoyment of their right to freedom of movement. A list adopted by the “State Council of Crimea” later in March 2014, the so-called “Persons Engaged in Anti-Crimean activity”, reportedly includes the names of at least 344 people, whose stay is undesirable on the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.

Since March 2014, several Crimean Tatar leaders have been banned from entering Crimea, such as the former chairman of the Crimean Tatar Parliament (Mejlis) Mustafa Jemilev and the current chairman Refat Chubarov.

The political tensions have prompted an environment conducive to violence targeting minorities and indigenous peoples in the occupied territory of Crimea.

“The protection of minorities is not only a challenge and a human rights imperative for the authorities of the occupied territory of Crimea, it is also part of the solution of the conflict, and a way to prevent further degradations,” says Neil Clarke, the Director of MRG Europe. “Therefore, cases such as Bekirov’s needs to be carefully investigated by the police and the perpetrators be caught.”

MRG and the Network urge authorities in Crimea and the Russian Federation to step up effectively to end the intimidation, discrimination and persecution of minorities and indigenous people, in particular the Crimean Tatars. The human rights organization firmly believes that the security of minorities and indigenous peoples is key to re-establishing peaceful dialogue in place of conflict.

Notes to editors:

  • The Crimean Tatars are indigenous people of Crimea who were deported by the Soviet government under Joseph Stalin in 1944. Many of them died from hunger and disease. With large numbers of Russians living on the peninsula, many of whom migrated from the former Soviet Union, Crimea became the centre for pro-Russian and secessionist sentiments in Ukraine. The decimated Crimean Tatar people started to return to their homeland after 1988 and found that they were denied citizenship rights, political representation, access to education, employment and housing.
  • Minority Rights Group International is the leading international human rights organization working to secure the rights of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples. We work with more than 150 partners in over 50 countries.
  • The Eastern Partnership Minorities Network (EaPMN) is a network in the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries. It offers new training and networking opportunities for organisations working on minority issues in the region. The network enhances the full participation of minorities in the Eastern Partnership process of the European Union.
  • No Borders Project/Social Action Centre is an MRG/EaPMN partner in Ukraine. The human rights organisation provides legal counselling and representation to minorities, advocates for non-discrimination and equality to all vulnerable groups, and has recently provided assistance and counselling to internally displaced people from the east and south of Ukraine.

Interview opportunities:


  • Nadir Bekirov – Crimean Tatar indigenous and human rights activist, Foundation for Research and Support of Indigenous People of Crimea

Ukraine – (English, Ukrainian, Russian)

  • Irene Fedorovych, No Borders Project/Social Action Centre
    M: +380 97 509 40 62 E: [email protected]

Neil Clarke, Managing Director of Minority Rights Group Europe (English)

Zsófia Farkas, Minority Rights Group Europe (Hungarian, English)

To arrange interviews, please contact MRG’s Press Office:

Bernadett Sebály – M: +36 70 217 2601
E: [email protected]