July 4, 2013

UNPO Report Outlines Discrimination Faced By Crimean Tatars In Ukraine

UNPO submitted an alternative report to the UN Human Rights Committee, drawing attention to the situation of the Crimean Tatars in Ukraine and the widespread discrimination the Crimean Tatars face. 

UNPO submitted an alternative report to the UN Human Rights Committee ahead of the 108th session, during the consideration of the Seventh Periodic Report of Ukraine. You can access the full alternative report by clicking on the link under “Attached Documents” on the right.  

The alternative report focuses on the situation of the Crimean Tatar population in Ukraine and the Ukrainian government’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The major issues the report focuses on include religious-discrimination, racism, land disputes, language preservation and the protection of their cultural and historical heritage.

The Crimean Tatars are indigenous to the area within Ukraine currently known as the Autonomous Region of Crimea. Originally, the region was occupied by the Crimean Tatars, who now make up only 12% of the population. This stark decrease in the number of Crimean Tatars living in Crimea is the result of repeated forceful expulsion to Central Asia when the area was part of the Soviet Union. After the fall of the Soviet Union, some Crimean Tatars returned to the region. However, they are still not treated as free and equal citizens in the area.

The Crimean Tatars are not adequately represented in politics and the Ukrainian state is neither communicating with nor acknowledging the wishes of the Crimean Tatars. Another issue is the lack of compensation in regards to the mass deportation which is at the origin of the many challenges the Crimean Tatars face today. Before they were deported, the Crimean Tatars owned around 1 million hectares of agricultural land. There has still been no form of compensation by the Ukrainian state for the property loss that occurred during and after the deportation.

The Crimean Tatar’s minority rights are also being violated. Crimean Tatars lack significant access to education in their native language and they still face discrimination. Especially in the area of Crimea, racially motivated violence against the Crimean Tatars has been on the rise. The Crimean Tatars also often lack the freedom to express their religion. The majority of Ukraine is Russian Orthodox and the Crimean Tatars are Sunni Muslims. Because of their religious differences, they face religious discrimination and xenophobia.

The report concluded with the following recommendations to the government of Ukraine:

- Adopt legislation to restorecollective and individual rights of the Crimean Tatars as violated by the mass deportation committed in May 1944 and the subsequent decades of exile;

 - Provide the Crimean Tatars with the opportunity to commemorate the deportation of the Crimean Tatars; Improve the living conditions in the Crimean Tatar settlements, including construction of adequate infrastructures, facilities, and development of communications and transportation networks;

 - Increase the political representation of the Crimean Tatars, including a reform of the electoral law and special measures as described in article 2 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination;

- Take measures to increase the level of employment of the Crimean Tatars in the  private  and public sectors, including special measures as described in article 2 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination;

 - Formally recognize the Crimean Tatars as an indigenous people, and respect the distinct rights afforded to them by the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;

 - Formally endorse and ratify the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;

- Ensure equality of all Ukrainian citizens regardless of their religious views;

- Investigate thoroughly, and take punitive action where appropriate, all reported instances of racial violence and discrimination against the Crimean Tatars;

- Take further measures to ensure that law enforcement officials, prosecutors and judges involved in enforcing the law relating to hate crimes and other violent acts of racial discrimination and xenophobia fully understand the nature of such crimes and that they are investigated properly;

- Adopt measures to further respect for religious rights, including allocation of land for the constructions of places of worship and measures for adequate protection of sacred sites; Adopt measures to further respect for cultural rights, including construction of schools, development of quality scientific and educational material in the Crimean Tatar language, development of digital and print media in the Crimean Tatar language, registration and renovation of Crimean Tatar heritage. 

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