Refat Chubarov: Repressions against Crimean Tatars are becoming life-threatening
The text of the remarks made by Refat Chubarov, leader of the Mejlis, the executive-representative body of Crimean Tatars, at the United Nations' conference on indigenous peoples on Sept. 24.
Being part of the huge international community of indigenous peoples we are certainly happy with the success of each indigenous people and are sincerely concerned with the fate of those indigenous peoples whose rights and interests are being continuously ignored. The success of our joint work on ensuring the rights of indigenous peoples in UN framework is obvious. However we are facing new challenges and new threats to development and future of indigenous peoples.
Crimea Tatars are the people who suffered total deportation from their native land in 1944, their return to the native land became possible on the eve of the Soviet Union collapse and coincided with establishment of independent Ukraine. At the same time our return and settlement were taking place under extremely complicated and controversial conditions in the past 23 years but we were full of hopes. As part of the Ukrainian political nation jointly with Ukrainian citizens of different nationalities, Crimean Tatars spoke up in November 2013 – February 2014 against political and economic corruption, supported the demands of the Ukrainian society for European integration.
Our hopes to restore our rights were wiped out at the end of February – March 2014 as a result of the events that shocked the whole world – occupation and annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation.
It is very hard to count on ensuring the rights of indigenous peoples in case when the whole international legal framework and the power of multilateral and bilateral agreements and accords came under threat of complete destruction.
Crimean Tatars, the indigenous people of the peninsula, by speaking up openly against Crimea’s occupation, have now become the most vulnerable group. De-facto the so-called Crimean authorities started systematic discrimination of Crimean Tatars by racial and ethnic origin, religion. Repressions are gaining the scale and character threatening life and safety of the Crimean Tatars. They include abductions of people, people going missing, bandits’ attacks on Crimean Tatars and Ukrainian civil activists, mass searches in private houses of the citizens, mosques, madrasah (Islamic colleges), libraries and schools.
De-facto the so-called Crimean authorities aim to destroy national institutions of the Crimean Tatars – Kurultai (congress) and Mejlis (executive body) of Crimean Tatar people, both institutions operate in full accordance with the principles of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that in relation to the Crimea and Crimean Tatars the Russian Empire doctrine “Crimea without Crimean Tatars” is being implemented again, but this time in the XXI century. Moreover, it's done by UN member state, the Russian Federation.
1. We join the requests of other indigenous peoples on granting the status of permanent observers across the whole UN system to the institutions representing indigenous peoples.
2. We support the suggestion on setting up a special UN agency with the mandate to assist, protect and report on activities of the states as to their implementation of indigenous peoples’ rights. However, in case of Crimea and in regard to the circumstances threatening the life and safety of Crimean Tatars we cannot wait until such agency is created. That’s why we call on the UN to establish a special mission on Crimea having set legal and other mechanisms of its permanent presence in Crimea.
We are grateful to the Parliament of Ukraine for adopting the decisions for Ukraine to join the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and for recognizing the Crimea Tatar people’s status of indigenous people of Crimea.
Thank you for attention.