On this day 78 years ago, the communist regime committed genocide against the indigenous people of Crimea. The history of persecution of Crimean Tatars has been repeated since the occupation of the peninsula by Russia in 2014, as they have been constantly tortured, and deported, they have become victims of forcibly disappearance, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law.
Today, on May 18, 2022, a new piece of evidence of the crimes committed by the Russian Federation and its occupation administration against humanity on the territory of the occupied peninsula has been sent to the Prosecutor’s Office of the International Criminal Court.
The Prosecutor’s Office of the Autonomy Republic and the General Prosecutor’s Office together with human rights organizations: Global Rights Compliance, Crimean Human Rights Group, Truth Hounds, and the Crimean Institute for Strategic Studies collected the evidence of persecuting the Crimean Tatars on political, ethnical, and religious grounds that has been recording on the peninsula since the beginning of occupation.
“In order to persecute the indigenous people of Crimea, the occupiers have been taking criminal and administrative measures, restricting the right to practice their religion and destroying cultural heritage. The scale of the crimes can be demonstrated in numbers: since the beginning of the peninsula occupation, about 30,000 Crimean Tatars have been forced to leave its territory due to intolerable living conditions created, persecution, etc., 22 activists have been abducted or disappeared; at least 18 Crimean Tatars were tortured, more than 200 were subjected to politically biased persecution, and at least 136 are being held as political prisoners, 75% of searches carried out by occupiers in Crimea were in the homes of Crimean Tatars and almost 83% of all detainees are Crimean Tatars,” Mr.Ihor Ponochovny, Head of the Prosecutor’s Office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and City of Sevastopol, said.
“Since the beginning of the occupation of Crimea, the Russian occupation authorities have been committing crimes against humanity and war crimes. The Crimean Tatar people is being consistently persecuted, most political prisoners are Crimean Tatars, and they are subject to discrimination practice, for instance, persecution for exercising their right to freedom of peaceful assembly. Human rights defenders, including the Crimean Human Rights Group, continue to document violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in the occupied Crimea even after the Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. We must state that the situation with the persecution of the Crimean Tatar people is rapidly deteriorating, “- Ms.Olha Skrypnyk, Chairperson of Crimean Human Rights Group Board, pointed out.
“The occupying state and its administration are consistent in conducting a large scale campaign to persecute the indigenous people of Crimea, who have suffered serious human rights violations and have in fact become the target. With such methods, Russia eliminates the citizens of Ukraine who disagree with the occupation, and, in addition, uses it as a reminder to other disloyal groups of the population about the consequences of opposing Russia’s occupation policy. All of these serious violations are crimes against humanity under Article 7 of the Rome Statute,” Mr.Wayne Jordash, Managing Partner of the Global Rights Compliance, said.
Ms.Kateryna Busol, an expert at the Crimean Institute for Strategic Studies, emphasizes that crimes against the cultural heritage of Crimean Tatars, such as destroying or damaging cultural monuments, are both a crime committed and a tool for implementing a broader policy of occupying power: to substitute the history of Crimea and erase step-by-step its non-Russian elements. Thus, Russia is trying to produce its own narratives about the Crimean history.
“Russia is disguising a cultural persecution by spreading individual crimes over time and trying to keep them below the level of involvement of international organizations and international legal protection mechanisms. This should not go unnoticed by law enforcement bodies and the human rights community at the national level as well as by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, ”said Mr.Dmytro Koval, Truth Hounds’ international law expert.