Remember Crimea !
The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) is extremely concerned with reports that, while the world is watching the crisis unfolding in Ukraine, the Russian Federation is ramping up its efforts to repress the people of Crimea within the illegally-occupied territory. Over the past weeks, the UNPO has focused on the situation in Ukraine.
Just prior to war, the UNPO published an article outlining the reprisals taken out against Crimean Tatars in Crimea and elsewhere, as a warning of what was likely to come. At the outset of the war, the UNPO General Secretary, Ralph J. Bunche, issued a statement that explained how the Russian Federation’s justification for war was little more than a perversion and instrumentalization of the right to self-determination, the primary bulwark against colonialism, for its colonial ambitions. After reports surfaced that, as expected, Crimean Tatars in territories of Ukraine taken militarily by Russia were being targeted by the military, the UNPO Presidency called for enhanced protection of Crimean Tatars and efforts to guarantee the sovereignty of all of the founding members of the UNPO from the post-Soviet space.
The UNPO will continue to monitor and report on crimes being committed against Crimean Tatars in Ukraine and campaign for the protection of refugees in Europe from the long-arm of the Russian state. However, we are also extremely concerned with information coming out of Crimea of enhanced repression there, being reported by UNPO members, the Crimean Tatars, as well as organizations such as Crimea SOS.
As with the rest of the Russian Federation, Crimea has been subjected to the enhanced restrictions on civil liberties imposed to silence opposition to the war. Combined with an increased military presence using Crimea as a staging post for the war, receiving information from Crimea is becoming increasingly difficult.
Despite this difficulty some disturbing information is coming out. For instance, reports are coming out of Crimea that human rights defenders are receiving warnings not to engage in their activities, being raided by the police and having their IT equipment confiscated. Moreover, on 10 March 2022, five Crimean Tatars – Ramzi Bekirov, Riza Izetov, Shaban Umerov, Raim Aivazov, Farkhod Bazarov – were sentenced to terms of imprisonment of between 15 and 19 years for participating in Hizb Ut-Tahrir, an Islamic rights organization that was openly active in Crimea before being banned by Russia after the illegal occupation.
Because of our concern that Crimea will be forgotten amid the horror of the war in Ukraine, the UNPO will continue to seek to amplify the voices of those organizations and activists still trying to get information out of Crimea, as well as the voices of Crimean Tatars more generally. This page will be regularly updated with information as it becomes available, with articles available in the sidebar.
Photo: Crimean Border Fence