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MRG expresses concern over the situation of Crimean Tatars at the UN

22 March 2016

Human Rights Council – 31st session

Item 10 – ID with the High Commissioner on human rights in Ukraine

22 March 2016

Speaker: Mr. Glenn Payot

Mister President, Mister High Commissioner,

MRG is deeply concerned about the growing number and scope of human rights violations that Crimean Tatars, indigenous people of Crimea and Ukraine, are subjected to by the de facto authorities.

Among the most alarming developments is the ongoing trial of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, the representative body of Crimean Tatars, by the Crimean Supreme Court. This trial can lead to the banning of this organization on the grounds of allegedly „engaging in extremist activities“.

In MRG’s view, such a decision can legitimize the persecution of Crimean Tatars, risks silencing the collective voice of Crimean Tatars and may herald further repression. MRG is particularly worried about the physical safety of members of the Mejlis and anybody who can be associated with them, including a large majority of Crimean Tatars living in Crimea.

MRG also expresses concern about the the continued detention of Crimean Tatar activists accused of organizing the pro-Ukrainian demonstration in Simferopol in February 2014. Today, three Crimean Tatars, including Ahtem Chiygoz, Deputy Chair of the Mejlis, remain under arrest while awaiting verdicts.

These and numerous other violations of Crimean Tatars’ human rights by the de facto authorities stand in stark contrast to the growing international recognition of Crimean Tatars’ rights. Notably, on February 4, 2016, the European Parliament adopted a resolution that explicitly acknowledged Crimean Tatars as ’indigenous people of Crimea’. As such, the EU has joined the growing global consensus that views Crimean Tatars as indigenous people with individual and collective human rights in accordance with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

MRG urges the de facto authorities and the Russian government to stop the repression of Crimean Tatars and their institutions, free all Crimean Tatar political prisoners and take all necessary measures to ease the current climate of fear prevailing among Crimean Tatars in Crimea.

To Ukraine, MRG recommends to take further steps to solidify Crimean Tatars’ status as indigenous people, such as adopting legislation clarifying Crimean Tatars’ political status in Ukraine in line with international norms such as those contained in UNDRIP. Such legislation should be developed in close consultations with representatives of Crimean Tatars, ensuring free, prior and informed consent of Crimean Tatar people.

Thank you.