Unlawful occupation of Crimea led to the systematic human rights violations, including politically motivated persecution of Crimean Tatars and members of Mejlis of Crimean Tatar people – the executive representative body of Crimean Tatar people.
The highest representative body of Crimean Tatar people is Kurultay. Members of Mejlis of Crimean Tatar people are elected by Kurultay from among its delegates. In the period between sessions of Kurultay, the only authorized executive-representative body of Crimean Tatar people is Mejlis of Crimean Tatar people.
On 15 February 2016 the Crimean prosecutor Natalia Poklonskaya appealed to “the Supreme Court of the Republic of Crimea” with the request “On prohibition of activity of the public association in the manner and on the grounds stipulated by art. FZ as of 25.07.2002 #114-FZ “On Countering Extremist Activity”. N. Poklonskaya requests to declare Mejlis of Crimean Tatar people as an extremist organization and to ban its activity in the territory of the Russian Federation.
If Mejlis of Crimean Tatar people is recognized as extremist organization, all its members will be at risk of criminal prosecution based on the following articles of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation: art. 280. “Public calls for extremist activity”; art. 282.1. “Organization of an extremist community”; art. 282.2. “Organization of activity of an extremist organization” and others. These articles of the Criminal Code suggest criminal punishment including imprisonment for up to 8 years.
Mejlis of Crimean Tatar people has publicly opposed the so-called “referendum” that was held on 16 March 2014 in Crimea. Mejlis of Crimean Tatar people participated in the organization and conduction of pro-Ukrainian rallies and protests in Crimea in the period of February-March 2014. The Speaker of Mejlis of Crimean Tatar people Refat Chubarov and the number of members of Mejlis of Crimean Tatar people has publicly expressed that they do not recognize annexation of Crimea to Russia, and spoke in support of Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
In this regard, there is a reason to believe that the above mentioned actions of the prosecutor of Crimea serve as continuation of repressions against Crimean inhabitants who do not support the occupation of the peninsula. Such actions violate fundamental human rights, namely freedom of assembly and association, freedom of expression, freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and prohibition of discrimination.
Unjustified restriction or prohibition of the activity of Mejlis of Crimean Tatar people violates rights of indigenous people, including the right to self-government, the right to retain their own customs and institutions. Such actions threaten preservation of identity and development of Crimean Tatar people.
We would also like to draw your attention to the fact that application of “anti-extremist” legislation of Russia to Mejlis of Crimean Tatar people may lead to criminal prosecution of not only members of Mejlis of Crimean Tatar people, but also other Crimean Tatars.
We call international organizations to:
– take all possible measures to prevent politically motivated persecutions of Crimean Tatars, including members of Mejlis of Crimean Tatar people;
– apply international legal and diplomatic mechanisms for protection and preservation of Mejlis of Crimean Tatar people as an executive-representative body of Crimean Tatar people.
Crimean Human Rights Group