May 18, 2005

Crimean Tatars Campaign for the Protection of Their Rights

Following an unjust verdict of Crimean courts the Crimean Tatars held a campaign to draw attention to the arbitrariness of Crimean Authorities, particularly the law-enforcement agencies against Crimean Tatars
Untitled Document

On 29 December 2004 Simferopol Central District Court brought in a verdict on the activist of the National Movement, member of the Board of Mejlis of Crimean Tatar People Kurtseit Abdullaev and five young Crimean Tatars: Simar Khayredinov, Lenur Malaev, Elvis Kurtametov, Fahri Seitkhalilov, Dilyaver Maksudov.

The pre-trial investigation, and further investigation in court, was carried out in the best traditions of the Soviet period when on the territory of present independent Ukraine particularly Crimean Tatars dared to return to their homeland were judged in the name of Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Judgements and verdicts of that time were aimed not only at subjecting the activists of Crimean Tatar National Movement aspiring to return to the homeland to repression but also at intimidating the whole Crimean Tatar people.

The “Azatliq” campaign was a feedback to the action of the corrupt political governance, law-enforcement and court bodies of Crimea. It was launched on 15 March 2005 on the day when the Autonomous Republic Crimea Court of Appeal turned down the complaints of attorneys and left the verdict unaltered.
The campaign from the very beginning was multi-vectorial and multi-elemental. The results of each stage were the basis for next one.

First stage: 15 March – 9 April 2005

1. To react immediately to unjust verdict of Crimean courts in respect of the group of Crimean Tatars;
2. To prepare the plan of action, determine the range of possible participants and allies; To find resources;
3. To elaborate and prepare the information-agitation materials;
4. To elaborate and produce the campaign symbolics.

All objectives of the first stage were reached. The standing agitation camp was placed on Simferopol central square, on 22 March 2005 the first press-conference of the campaign participants was held, the campaign symbolics was elaborated, approved and installed, the text of the petition in defense of the convicted persons was copied and distributed, the collection of signatures was organized, the first issue of the campaign newspaper was printed and distributed.

Second stage: 9 Apil – 18 may 2005

5. To carry out the protest march across Crimea, in its course to let the compatriots living locally know about the persecution of Crimean Tatars;
6. To draw the attention of the community and Ukraininan Government to the arbitrariness of Crimean Authorities, particularly the law-enforcement agencies against Crimean Tatars;
7. To inform the Crimean Tatar Diaspora as for the situation;
8. To launch the information campaign abroad in international Human Rights advocacy organizations.

Though the key range of the objectives has been reached by now, the activity is continued.

The second stage began on 2 April with the march from settlement Simeiz (Yalta region) to the capital of Crimea – Simferopol. The main purpose of the march is meeting with the compatriots and by the example of the court arbitrariness victims to show the real situation of Crimean Tatars on their homeland.

As a result, the march still taking place has covered all zone of the South Coast of Crimea: Yalta region and Alushta region, Sevastpol zone, Bakhchisaray region, Simferopol region, Kerch and Lenin region, Feodosia region, Sovet and Belogorsk regions. Currently the march is taking place in Kirov region. It is supposed to be extended to the territory of neighboring regions.

On 13 April the first column marched through Yalta, Alushta, part of Simferopol region came to the central square. The column visited 14 settlements where the meeting with Crimean Tatars (about 700 people) were held.

On 16 April the second column Simeiz – Sevastopol – Bakhchisaray – Simferopol came to the central square. It had marched through 22 settlements where the marchers met with Crimean Tatars population (about 1200 people).

On 19 April the third column Mamashay in Sevastopol region – Simferopol region – Simferopol arrived. It had marched through 10 settlements and met with 500 Crimean Tatars.

On 27 April The fourth column Ichki – Karacu Bazar – Simferopol region – Simferopol arrived. It has marched through 25 settlements and met with 1500 Crimean Tatars.

Besides, all marchers visited every Crimean Tatar house in the settlements and distributed the information materials. In the course of the march there were 12000 copies of information-agitation material distributed.

There was an organized visit of parents of the convicted persons to Kyiv where they addressed Office of the General Prosecutor of Ukraine, Secretariat of the President of Ukraine, Department on execution supervision of Ministry of Internal Affairs punishments.

On 13 and 25 April there were press-conferences held.

At the urgent request by A. Matvienko and on condition that he will take all possible efforts for organizing an additional examination of circumstances related to the illegal conviction of Crimean Tatars the “Azatliq” campaign camp was temporarily removed from the central square for the period up to 10 May 2005. On behalf of A. Matvienko his representatives V. Ermakov and H. Golubev asked for a two-week period of taking off the camp. The issue of reestablishment of the camp and further development of the campaign will be considered depending on the actions of Ukrainian and Crimean Authorities in the nearest time.

On 30 April 2005 Being not able to stand suffering Simar Khayredinov’s grandmother Azizepassed awayu of infarction. She is known for active participation in all activities on defense of convicted Crimean Tatars during the last year and in frame of “Azatliq” campaign. Allah rahmet eylesin! (Allah rest her soul!).

By now there are over 15 000 signatures collected for the petition to the president of Ukraine on defense of unduly convicted persons. A part of the petition with 11000 signatures was submitted directly to the Head of Secretariat of the President of Ukraine A. Zinchenko of 4 May 2005. Two copies were handed over to the President of Ukraine during his meeting with the Mejlis of Crimean Tatar people on 5 May 2005. He received extensive information in written and oral forms on presuppositions and organizers of the provocation against Crimean Tatars led to the collision in “Cotton” bar, his attention was drawn to the fact that the Secretariat received the petition signed by 11000 Crimean Tatars, he was addressed with a request to establish an interdepartmental commission on examination of the circumstances related to illegal conviction of Crimean Tatars and corruption in law-enforcement and court bodies of Crimea in general.

Under the influence of the campaign the one’s position was resigned by one of the main organizers of the provocation on the South Coast of Crimea S. Kunitsin, criminal case have been brought before the court and the investigation in respect of a range of high rank officials of Crimea has been started.

To our great concern the mass-media and particularly Crimean Tatar ones did not pay duly attention to the problem addressed by the participants of the “Azatliq” campaign at its initial stage. Great efforts were taken to arouse interest of Crimean Tatar mass-media to the campaign. Currently the information on the “Azatliq” campaign and its objectives has been brought to attention not only of compatriots residing in Crimea but also Crimean Tatar Diaspora in USA, Turkey, Romania and other states from far abroad.

The campaign was discussed at the public hearings held in Crimea on 8 April 2005.

The information on causes and course of the campaign including pictures has been distributed in English and Crimean Tatar languages through Internet and among Crimean Tatar Diaspora in Turkey, Romania and USA.

The information on the situation in Crimea has been communicated to corresponding UNO and CoE bodies.

More detailed information on the campaign can be obtained from the Internet site

During the campaign the Mejlis of Crimean Tatar people made the Statement, the Head of the Mejlis of Crimean Tatar people carried on negotiations with the new Head of the Council of Ministers of Crimea A. Matvienko and completed as agreement on a range of issues infringing on interests of Crimean Tatar people.

By present time the convicted persons have been transported to the institutions of confinement in different regions of Ukraine. Their relatives still have no reliable information on their location.

Main claims of the “Azatliq” campaign participants:
1. To reverse the sentence by the court of original jurisdiction of 29 December 2004 and subject the case to supplementary investigation;
2. To substitute the preventive punishment for a written undertaking not to leave a place for the period of the supplementary investigation.
Since in the present time the decision can be nominally taken only by the Court of Cassation of Ukraine, it is necessary to establish the interdepartmental commission that would carry out an examination of our claims on organization of the provocations and falsifications of accusational material and in case of necessity prepare materials for Office of General Prosecutor of Ukraine with a view to institute legal proceedings on newly discovered circumstances.