| 27 February 2024, Tuesday |

Rights activist accuses Russia of ‘inhuman tactics’ against Crimean Tatars

Russia is accused of “inhuman tactics” according to a human rights activist, saying that it targeted Crimean Tatars at their worship places.

Speaking at an online international conference titled “Crimea is Ukraine,” organized by the Islamabad Institute of Conflict Resolution (IICR), an Islamabad-based think-tank, Lutfiye Zudiyeva, a human rights activist from Crimea, said Tatar Muslim ethnic minority is being persecuted by the Russian forces in Crimea.

“Many of them (Crimean Tatars) openly opposed Russia’s invasion which began in 2014, as our people became a minority in our homeland,” she said.

She accused the Russian forces of arresting hundreds of Muslims and sentencing them through their courts on terror charges.

“About 50,000 Tatar residents have already left Crimea while at the same time Russia has been substituting the population of Crimea. Over the past seven years, about 200,000 Russian citizens have been moved from Russia to Crimea,” she added.

“Dozens of our people have gone missing, and nothing is known about the fate of a member of the Executive Council of the World Congress of Crimean Tatars who was arrested by the Russian forces.”

Ukraine’s First Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzhaparova told the conference that the situation of human rights violation in Crimea is of deep concern for her country.

“If you dare to say publicly that Crimea is Ukraine, you can be detained, at least for five years. We call Crimea a military base (of Russia),” she said.

“By squeezing out the citizens of Ukraine, Russia is trying to bring as many newcomers as possible, and at least half a million Russian citizens have already moved into the Crimean peninsula,” the Ukrainian minister said.

She rejected the Russian terror charges against Tatars, saying: “We never had any terrorist attack before 2014. This is a matter of fact, but immediately after the occupation, we found ourselves living in this false reality where Russia, using media experts and officials, tried to show Crimean Tatars as extremist.”

She also explained her government’s strategy about Crimea and hoped that Pakistan and other countries would support Ukraine to end the “illegal Russian occupation” of Crimea.

Dzhaparova also said Ukraine will observe Feb. 26 as a day of resistance to the occupation and May 18 as a day of remembrance of the victims of the genocide of Crimean Tatar people.

Ukraine and Russia have been at loggerheads since Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, a takeover both Turkey and the UN consider illegal. Ukraine has also been plagued by Russian-backed separatists in the country’s east.

Anton Korynevych, permanent representative of the Ukrainian president in Autonomous Republic of Crimea, said his government decided to support its Crimean citizens and provide them with good opportunities for education and financial support to political prisoners.