Sep 08, 2016

Crimean Tatars: Activist Ilmi Umerov Released from Psychiatric Hospital

Photo courtesy of  Anton Naumlyuk @Radio Free Europe

Three weeks after he had been forced into a psychiatric hospital, Crimean Tatar activist Ilmi Umerov has been released on Wednesday, 7 September 2016. His forced admission into the mental asylum – ordered for political reasons by a court in Russia-occupied Crimea – caused an international outcry. Human rights groups and several national governments, such as the UK, had urged the Russia-backed Crimean authorities to release Umerov, drop the trumped up charges against him, and provide him with the necessary medical treatment.

Below is an article published by Radio Free Europe:

A noted Crimean Tatar activist has been released from a psychiatric hospital in Russia-occupied Crimea. Ilmi Umerov, the former deputy chairman of the Crimean Tatars' self-governing body, the Mejlis, was charged with separatism in May after he made public statements opposing Moscow's forcible annexation of the peninsula from Ukraine in March 2014. In August, Umerov was forcibly admitted to a psychiatric clinic for a month of assessment tests.

Umerov's relatives and lawyers said he was released from the clinic on September 7. The lawyers added that they will seek the transfer of their client, who suffers from heart problems, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease, to a cardiology clinic.

Human rights groups have urged the Russia-backed authorities in Crimea to drop the charges against Umerov and provide him with necessary medical treatment. The Moscow-based Memorial Human Rights Center has called the case against Umerov "illegal and politically motivated."

Meanwhile, a court in southern Russia has jailed four Crimean Tatars on terrorism charges. The North Caucasus District Military Court in the city of Rostov-on-Don found the four defendants guilty on September 7 of being members of the Hizb ut-Tahrir Islamic group and sentenced them to between five and seven years in prison. Hizb ut-Tahrir is branded as a terrorist organization in Russia.

All four Crimean Tatars pleaded not guilty, claiming the case against them is politically motivated. They entered the courtroom on September 7 wearing T-shirts with the inscriptions "Crimean Tatars" and "The Show Is Over" printed on them. The four men were detained in Crimea between January and April and went on trial in June.

Russia has been heavily criticized by international rights groups and Western governments for its treatment of Crimea's indigenous Turkic-speaking people since Moscow forcibly annexed the peninsula from Ukraine in March 2014. Arrests, disappearances, and killings of Crimean Tatars have been reported.