Sep 01, 2016

Crimean Tatars: UK Embassy in Kiev Stands in Solidarity with Ilmi Umerov

Photo courtesy of SOS Crimea

In a statement released on 31 August 2016, the British Embassy in Kiev calls for the release of Ilmi Umerov. The Crimean Tatar activist, held in custody since May 2016, was forced into a psychiatric hospital on 18 August 2016. Umerov’s lawyers say the conditions in the psychiatric hospital are harmful to their client, who suffers from heart disease and diabetes, and warn that – without urgent medical treatment – he could die. The Embassy takes Umerov’s case as an example of the precarious human rights standards in Crimea, and further iterates its refusal to recognise Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea.


Below is a statement published by Ukraine Today:

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland urges Russia to release a Crimean Tatar leader, Mejlis Deputy Chairman Ilmi Umerov, and return the occupied Crimea to Ukraine. The British Embassy to Ukraine published a relevant statement on 31 August [2016].

"The detention and treatment of the Deputy Chairman of Mejlis of the Crimea Tatar People, Ilmi Umerov, is a cause of deep concern. Umerov's forced detention and examination in a psychiatric unit, along with reports of his deteriorating health are disturbing. We call on the Russian authorities to respect international human rights standards; to release Umerov without delay; and to allow him access to the medical care that he needs.

It is clear that human rights standards are not being met in Crimea and we continue to call on the Russian Federation to allow immediate, unfettered access to all international human rights monitoring bodies. We do not, and will not, recognise Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea.

Russia must return Crimea to Ukraine", the British diplomats say.

On 26 February 2014, Umerov along with other Crimean Tatars organised a demonstration against the occupation of the peninsula. Later Russian Federal Security Service initiated a criminal case against him.

On 12 May [2016], 58-year-old Ilmi Umerov was arrested. Last week Umerov felt sick during a court session, later he was taken to the hospital. The judge announced Umerov must undergo forensic psychiatric evaluation.

Thus, Umerov was forcibly placed into mental ward for forensic medical assessment. According to the lawyers, the conditions in the hospital are harmful for Umerov. The lawyers say without urgent medical treatment their client could die. Umerov suffers from diabetes and heart disease.

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko called Umerov's detention in psychiatric clinic “resurrection of Stalin-era regime". Russia's FSB (Federal Security Service) intends to hold Umerov in mental ward until 7 September [2016]. Earlier, the US and European Union called on Russia to immediately free Umerov.

Crimea was seized from Ukraine by Russia in February 2014. Ukraine's Parliament (Verkhovna Rada) officially declared 20 February 2014, a beginning of Russia's illegal occupation of Crimea and Sevastopol. Numerous world leaders strongly condemned the illegal annexation and launched a range of economic sanctions against Russia.

Despite the overall resentment, Moscow rejects the notion "occupation", naming its deeds instead "a renewal of historical justice".