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Appeal of Crimean Tatars, representatives of human rights monitoring organizations, Ukrainian and international civil society groups, Members of Parliament of Ukraine, politicians in regard to the prospect of banning of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatars
28 September 2016 10:02

This is a letter of alarm and a call for awakening. Crimean Tatars, the indigenous people of Crimean peninsula and a nation that has been once put on a brink of extinction, are subject to lawless repression by an authoritarian oppressor again.

Since the illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation in 2014, which the absolute majority of Crimean Tatars strongly rejected, the scale of oppression of this nation has only been growing. The political inconvenience that the Crimean Tatars presented for Kremlin was coupled with the historical sentiment of hate that was once aggravated to a point when the entire nation was deported to Central Asia in 1944. The chilling déjà vu started with disallowing the political leaders of the nation Mustafa Dzhemilev and Refat Chubarov to enter the peninsula in the immediate aftermath of the occupation. Then followed the first kidnappings and arrests of Crimean Tatars under falsified pretexts. Simultaneously Crimean Tatars were targeted by the security forces of the Russian Federation based on their religious views. Currently 17 Crimean Tatars are behind the bars for various falsified accusations. Political dissent has been harshly suppressed since the very beginning of the occupation. In spring of 2016 the Deputy Head of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis Mr. Ilmi Umerov became a subject to a politically motivated prosecution by the Russian state, was forcibly taken from the cardiac unit where he was under observation to Psychiatric Hospital No. 1 in Simferopol. The act of punitive psychiatry against Ilmi Umerov that lasted for 21 days clearly disregarded the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Mr. Umerov is a second Deputy Head of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis to be persecuted by the Russian state with Mr. Akhtem Chiygoz was arrested in January, 2015.

February, the 15th 2016 marked a new stage of repression of Crimean Tatars. Crimean Tatar Mejlis, the executive body of the highest representative body of the Crimean Tatar People Qurultay was declared an extremist organization and illegal on the territory of Russia. A very telling fact is that the Ministry of Justice of Russian Federation included Mejlis in the list of banned organizations prior to the verdict of the court. If the verdict remains unchanged, 2500 democratically elected representatives of the Crimean Tatars will acquire a status of extremists and will become an automatic target of law-enforcement agencies. Furthermore, tens of thousands of people who contact and work with the members of Mejlis may also be repressed by the state machine. It would not be an overstatement to suggest that under such circumstances merely being a Crimean Tatar is illegal in the eyes of the occupying forces. In fact banning the Mejlis is banning the entire people. The repression machine may go out of control altogether given the fact that no permanent mission of any human rights organization is present in Crimea and there is not a single independent media outlet operating in the peninsula.

The decision has been appealed and the final decision on this case will be announced on September, 29th, 2016 in the Supreme Court of Russian Federation. Hence we, the undersigned Crimean Tatars, representatives of human rights monitoring organizations, civil society groups, Members of Parliament of Ukraine, politicians call upon the global community to recognize the critical importance of this moment for the fate of the Crimean Tatar people. When an entire nation gets ripped of its democratically elected and the only political representation in 2016 the world shall not remain silent. The diplomatic and economic pressure on Russia must be elevated to a new level. The issue of repression of
Crimean Tatars has to be raised at meetings and negotiations of every profile and an immediate end to the repressions must be demanded from the Russian leadership. Concerted efforts of democratic countries have proven to have an influence on Kremlin in the past.

On September, 29th, the day of the hearing of the appeal in the Supreme Court of The Russian Federation, at 11 am (UTC +3) we will hold a demonstration at Independence Square in Kyiv, where we will demand an unconditional end of repressions against Crimean Tatars, display solidarity with the currently persecuted representatives of the nation and affirm the Russian leadership that together with the global community we will not allow another attempt of genocide of Crimean Tatar people.

We encourage regular citizens, civil activists, politicians, diplomats and opinion leaders to show unity with our struggle by coming to the Russian Embassy in countries across the globe and hold a simultaneous demonstration on September, 29th. We kindly ask to use hashtag #StopCrimeanTatarGenocide when covering the simultaneous demonstration in social media.

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