On September 3 and 4, 2021, the Russian Federation FSB men conducted 5 searches in the occupied Crimea, followed with detaining five Crimean Tatars: Eldar Odamanov, Aziz Akhtemov, Nariman Dzhelial, Shevket Useinov and Asan Akhtemov. and taking them in an unknown direction Relatives and lawyers of the detainees filed complaints with various law enforcement agencies de facto, but none of them reported the whereabouts of the missing. In particular, nothing is known about Eldar Odamanov’s whereabouts since 7:00 am on September 3.
At the time of publication of this statement, it is known that the searches at Eldar Odamanov’s and Aziz Akhtemov’s were carried out allegedly in connection with the damage of the gas pipeline near Simferopol, occurred on August 23, 2021. The next search took place at Nariman Dzhelial’s, First Deputy Chairman of the Crimean Tatar People’s Mejlis and a public activist who openly claimed gross human rights violations in the occupied Crimea and participated in the founding summit of the Crimean Platform on August 23, 2021.
Such actions of the occupying power may be qualified as enforced disappearance, as law enforcement agencies deprive the detainee of means of communication with his/her relatives and lawyers, that results into a real threat to their health and life. For the years of occupation, the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine and human rights organizations have recorded more than 40 cases of enforced disappearances on the peninsula.
Relatives of the missing Crimean Tatars, activists and friends gathered near the FSB (on Franka Boulevard in Simferopol) with the intention to get the information about the missing. Security forces detained another 40 of these people. Among them are journalists from “Crimean Solidarity” movement and journalists from “Graty” media – Ayder Kadyrov and Nuri Abdurashitov, the chairman of the Central Election Commission of the Kurultay of the Crimean Tatar people – Zair Smedlyaev and Mejlis member Lemmar Yunusov, father of Lulfie Zudieva (she is a human rights defender) – Remzi Zudiev.
Arbitrary searches and detentions have also become a constant practice applied by the Russian Federation against anyone who expresses the slightest disagreement with the actions of the occupying authorities, especially the Crimean Tatar community. A recent report by the UN Secretary-General on the human rights situation in Crimea states that over the past 3 and half years, the vast majority of searches have been conducted in the homes of Crimean Tatars. Also, 85 Crimean Tatars are in prisons as a result of politically motivated persecution in Crimea.
The latest detentions took place after the inaugural summit of the Crimean platform that had been held in Kyiv on August 23 at the initiative of Ukraine. Based on the Summit results, the heads of 46 delegations adopted a Declaration on the establishment of the Crimean Platform as a consultative and coordination format to end peacefully the Russian Federation’s occupation of Crimea and Sevastopol and to restore Ukraine’s control over the territory in full compliance with international law. Russia has repeatedly stated that it will not allow the Crimean Platform to become operative, blackmailing and threatening countries that supported the Summit.
Given that for the years of occupation of the peninsula, Russia has developed a system of politically motivated persecution of all those who disagree with the occupation of Crimea, the persecution of Crimean residents for their support of the Crimean platform could be a new wave of fabricated criminal cases. The fact that Nariman Dzhelial publicly supported the Crimean platform and took part in the founding summit may be a real motive for his persecution.
Illegal searches, abductions, and a steady increase in the number of political prisoners in Crimea show that efforts by Ukraine and the international community turned out to be insufficient to end arbitrariness on the occupied peninsula. Russia continues to despise international law, and therefore the restoration of the rule of law and respect for human dignity in Crimea can happen only if the peninsula has been deoccupied.
Taking into account the above mentioned, we demand the Russian Federation as occupying power of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and City of Sevastopol:
- to release immediately Eldar Odamanov, Aziz Akhtemov, Nariman Dzhelial, Shevket Useinov and Asan Akhtemov, as well as other political prisoners;
- to stop arbitrary searches, detentions and abductions, as well as other forms of political pressure on persons exercising their right to freedom of expression, freedom of thought, conscience, religion and peaceful assembly;
- to investigate effectively all cases of arbitrary searches and enforced disappearances and bring the perpetrators to justice;
- to stop intimidation of and pressure on activists, human rights defenders and journalists in the occupied Crimea;
- to adhere strictly to its obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law.
We are addressing foreign countries, international organizations, in particular the Crimean Platform members:
- to express a strong and joint protest against the actions of the Russian Federation regarding the new wave of searches and arrests in the occupied Crimea as a synchronized statement on behalf of the governments of the states;
- to introduce personal sanctions against persons involved in searches, detentions and abductions of Crimean residents;
- to emphasize the inadmissibility of persecution of Crimean residents by the Russian Federation for supporting of the Crimean Platform;
- to demand the Russian Federation to allow international monitoring missions of the UN, OSCE and Council of Europe to the occupied Crimea;
- to provide a comprehensive support to those illegally detained and abducted in the occupied Crimea and their families;
- to maximize using the Crimean Platform instruments and other international cooperation procedures to find Eldar Odamanov, Aziz Akhtemov, Nariman Dzhelial, Shevket Useinov and Asan Akhtemov asap and get them releases as well as other Ukrainian citizens detained in the territory of Russian Federation and the occupied Crimea for political reasons.
We are calling on the President of Ukraine, the Parliament of Ukraine, the Ministry of Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine, the Prosecutor’s Office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol:
- to ensure effective investigation of arbitrary searches, detentions and enforced disappearances in the occupied Crimea;
- to adopt comprehensive legislation to protect and support adequately victims of politically motivated persecution and enforced disappearances in the occupied territories;
- to sign the draft Law on Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine Concerning the Implementation of International Criminal Law and International Humanitarian Law Norms, no 2689, introducing due responsibility for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in the occupied territories.
Crimean Human Rights Group
Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union
Association of Relatives of the Kremlin Political Prisoners
Centre of Civic Freedoms
Media Initiative Group for Human Rights
DIYA Human Rights Centre
ZMINA Centre for Human Rights
Regional Human Rights Centre
Human Rights House CRIMEA
Educational Human Rights House CHERNIHIV
HRYPA VPLYVU Civil Holding NGO
CF Stabilization Support Services
NGO “Civil holding “GROUP OF INFLUENCE”
CO CF HUMAN AND LAW
Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
NGO “Donbass SOS”
No Borders Project
NGO “Stabilization Support Services”
UKRAINIAN CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS STUDY
Association UMDPL (Ukraine)