The human rights expert told about the consistent violations of human rights in the occupied Crimea and the impunity of the Russian authorities for this.
According to the information of the CHRG head, all cases of enforced disappearances documented by human rights organizations have not been investigated, and the guilty have not been brought to justice. The deaths of prisoners in the Crimean pre-trial detention center were not investigated, too.
“We recorded more than thirty deaths in the Simferopol pre-trial detention center. 25 of them were confirmed by the Russian penitentiary service. They reported that they all had been suicides or “natural deaths”. There was no independent investigation of these deaths, and what has caused them remains unknown, ” Ms. Skrypnyk said.
According to her information, 11 political prisoners, including Crimeans, were released last year. But at the same time, 43 new people in Crimea were detained for political reasons. Many of them were unlawfully transferred from Crimea to Russia. Only in March, more than 20 Crimean Tatars were arrested, most of them being journalists, bloggers and activists.
“The persecution of Ukrainian activists who declare in pubic that Crimea is Ukraine and support Ukraine, continues. For example, Mr. Oleg Prikhodko, a resident of the Saksky district, and Ms.Galina Dovgopolaya, a 64-year-old woman. She, like other Crimean resident Mr. Ivan Yatskin, faces 12 to 20 years in prison for the so-called “treason of the motherland”. The other day, Crimean resident Mr.Sergei Filatov was sentenced to 6 years in prison for being a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses religious organization. All these examples show that politically motivated and religious persecution has intensified in Russia, ”the human rights expert said.
Ms Skrypnyk points out that the Russian authorities are not only persecuting for freedom of speech, but also intend to isolate Crimea in terms of information access.
“Ukrainian FM radio stations, TV channels, sites of leading Ukrainian media, the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, religious organizations, the LinkedIn social network and the Telegram messenger are blocked in Crimea,” the CHRG head said and explained that blocking the media not only restricted freedom of expression, but also deprived Ukrainians living in Crimea of access to alternative information, because only Russian and pro-Russian media could work freely.
Ms Skrypnyk noted that one of the main threats to human rights and the consequence of the occupation would be the militarization of the civilian population. “The number of Ukrainians from Crimea drafted unlawfully into the Russian Armed Forces has amounted to almost 22 thousand people. The Crimean Human Rights Group recorded at least eighty-three court decisions in Crimea for evading Russian military service, ” the human rights expert said.
One of the important issues, according to the human rights defender, is the militarization of Crimean children. She said that at the moment 200 thousand Crimean children were constantly under the influence of the militarized Russian education system. The main goals of this system are preparation for service in the Russian army and the elimination of Ukrainian identity.
Summing up, Ms.Skrypnyk stated that Russia, in order to implement the UN resolution on the militarization of Crimea adopted last year, had to cease the administrative and criminal persecution of Crimeans for evading the Russian military service, stop conscription in the Russian Armed Forces on the occupied peninsula, put an end to the activities of the “Crimean Patriotic Center” and “Unarmia”, financed by the Russian government and propagandizing war and military service among Crimean children.
“The situation in Crimea needs real instruments of forcing Russia to comply with UN resolutions and decisions of international courts. Without this, violations of human rights and suffering of people will continue, and the threat to European and international security from Russia will only grow, ”the human rights activist concluded.
After the speeches of the announced event speakers, representatives of other countries also supported Ukraine, including Belgium, the UK, the Dominican Republic, Indonesia, France. U.S. Deputy Representative to the UN, Ambassador Cherith Norman Chalet encouraged the international community to impose personal sanctions against Russia for its actions in Crimea.
“The US are determined to hold Russia to answer for the occupation of Crimea. Since 2014, subsequent rounds of sanctions have targeted those who played a leading role in the occupation regime. There are also sanctions against law enforcement officials who used torture against Crimean Tatar activists. We urge other countries to introduce the same restrictions, ” Ms. Cherith Norman Chalet said.
The event was organized by the Permanent Representations of Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States to the United Nations in partnership with the Permanent Mission of Ukraine to the United Nations.
The event speakers:
Mr. Paul Teesalu, deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia, Ms. Ilze Brands Kehris, the Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights and Head of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in New-York, Mr. Anton Korinevich, Permanent Representative of President of Ukraine to Crimea, Mr. Refat Chubarov, Chairman of the Mejlis of Crimean Tatar People, Ms Olga Skrypnyk, Head of the Crimean Human Rights Group, Mr. Christoph Heusgen, the Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations, and Ms Anne Gueguen, deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations.
The venue: UN HQ, New York, 6 March 2020
The Arria Formula meetings is a form of the UN Security Council meetings held with a wide audience involved. The Arria makes it possible to get a more detailed information on the issues within the UN Security Council competence from the representatives of the governments, international organizations, the non-public sector, etc.