Jul 28, 2011

UNPO UN Report Outlines Racial Discrimination Faced By Crimean Tatars In Ukraine

UNPO submits Alternative Report to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on Ukraine's compliance with regards to the marginalization of the Crimean Tatars.

UNPO has submitted an Alternative Report to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination ahead of Ukraine’s review in August 2011.  This report to the Treaty Body monitoring committee underlines the economic, social and political marginalization experienced by the Crimean Tatars due to racial discrimination in Ukraine.

The Crimean Tatars have faced massive challenges in Ukraine since returning from mass deportation ordered by Stalin, which was based on unjustified accusations from local communist rulers.  After decades of nonviolent campaigning, the Crimean Tatars were allowed to return, but immediately faced racism and xenophobia, coupled with the problems of having their land and property confiscated and no existing legal structure in which to obtain assistance. 

This report outlines specific issues that disproportionally affect Crimean Tatars.  Ukraine does not recognize the Crimean Tatars as an indigenous people therefore does not afford them rights as laid out in the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  Ukraine has also demonstrated inconsistencies and shortfalls regarding legislation targeted to the Crimean Tatars, especially as people who were deported on ethnic basis.

While the Ukrainian government claims to undertake vast projects aimed at addressing discrimination within Ukrainian society, certain members of parliament have in several instances promulgated racist ideas against Crimean Tatars.   Legislation itself has not gone far enough in preventing discrimination against Crimean Tatars or addressing their restoration of rights by either being limited in its scope (for example, criminalizing discrimination only against citizens, which is a complicated issue for Crimean Tatars since they were deported) or infeasible due to lack of funds.

Crimean Tatars are frequently discriminated against in hiring practices and consequently have a disproportionally higher unemployment rate which on average leaves 60% of Crimean Tatar families unable to secure food on a regular basis.  Education standards are also lower at schools where Crimean Tatars study.  Furthermore, history textbooks used nationwide in schools have explicit negative and incorrect content regarding the history and relationship between Crimean Tatars and Ukraine. 

UNPO’s report proposes a series of recommendations and questions to be posited to the visiting delegation on August 17 and 18 in Geneva.  They include:

-ratifying the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and recognizing the Crimean Tatars as indigenous;

-revising legislation intended to address racism and xenophobia to include discrimination originating within State institutions

-calls for further information regarding textbook reviews and their frequency and third party assessment

-strengthening enforcement mechanisms of legislation intended to guarantee equal employment opportunities

The full report can be downloaded here.  Further information related to the review at the 79th session of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination can be found here.