Feb 05, 2016

EP Adopts Resolution on Human Rights Violations in Crimea Highlighting Dire Situation of Crimean Tatars

Photo courtesy of: European External Action Service 2014 @Flickr

On 4 February 2016, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the human rights situation in the Crimean Peninsula, which was illegally annexed by Russia in March 2014 and is still under Russian control. The resolution condemns the unprecedented levels of human rights violations committed against Crimean residents and draws particular attention to the targeted abuse, persecution and silencing of the Crimean Tatar population. The European Parliament calls for Russia to allow human rights monitoring and reporting to the area and thoroughly investigate these severe violations.

Following the political unrest in Kiev in November 2013 and the ensuing invasion and annexation of the peninsula by Russia in early 2014, the minority Crimean Tatar community was left exposed to Russian repression and discrimination. Having been a fervent supporter of the integrity of Ukraine and having boycotted the so-called referendum in March 2015, the Tatar people in particular are exposed to Russian discrimination. In most cases, occupation forces use the fight against ‘terrorism’ and ‘extremism’ as a pretense to justify grave violations of human rights (torture, arbitrary arrests, abductions, extrajudicial killings) and restrictions of the Tatar community’s liberties. Their freedom of expression has been severely restricted with journalists disappearing and the popular Tatar news channel ATR having been closed down in April 2015. Furthermore, important and symbolic cultural events of the Crimean Tatars are being forbidden and the use of Crimean and Ukrainian languages has been banned from schools.

The resolution of 4 February, which addresses these alarming developments, was supported by five parliamentary groups and authored by more than a hundred MEPs. During the debate, among others, MEPs Reinhard Bütikofer (Greens/EFA), Pier Antonio Panzeri (S&D), Tania Gonzáles Peñas (GUE-NGL), Petras Auštrevičius (ALDE), Andrej Plenković (EPP), Kati Piri (S&D) and Charles Tannock (ECR) raised their concerns over the events in Crimea and in particular the dire situation and human rights abuses perpetrated against the Tatar population. In its resolution, the European Parliament called for the Russian and local Crimean authorities to not only put an end immediately to the systematic persecution of indigenous Tatars, but also respect and ensure their cultural and religious rights. The European Parliament further urges Russia to end politically motivated prosecutions of Tatars and release members of the Mejlis, the Tatars’ executive-representative body, who are illegally detained.

UNPO has on multiple occasions highlighted and strongly condemned the severe human rights violations against the Tatar community before but especially after the illegal annexation of Crimea, and has asked for immediate action instead of mere rhetoric. UNPO remains committed to closely cooperate with the Tatar community, international politicians and the people of Crimea in order to prevent – as MEP Mark Demesmaeker (ECR) reminded during the debate – “history repeating itself”, thereby alluding to the mass deportation and genocide of Crimean Tatars during the Stalin regime.

For more information please see the resolution on the EP’s website.

To watch the video of the plenary debate, please click here.