Crimea: Crimean Tatars Faced With Open Aggression, Persecution, Oppression and Ethnic Cleansing
[RU]: Российские силовики заблокировали здание Меджлиса, внутри ФСБ проводит обыск (обновляется)
Two days after pseudo "elections" were held in Crimea on september 14th and were boycotted by most Crimean Tatars, their representative body, the Mejlis came under serious attack. On Tuesday morning, armed men surrounded the Mejlis building in Simferopol and blocked the road to it while Russian FSB officers began carrying out a search of the premises.
[Video-Російські силовики обшукують будівлю Меджлісу/Russian Security Forces [FSB] Search [Tatar] Mejlis Buiding]
The search lasted 11 hours and ended with the FSB removing the minutes from several meetings of the Mejlis. They also confiscated religious books and personal items, including money belonging to Mustafa Dzhemiliev, the veteran Crimean Tatar leader banned by Russia from his homeland. Six computer processors and hard disks were almost taken away with the officers refusing to give any idea when they would be returned.
Riza Shevkiyev, head of the charity “Crimea” which owns the building, explained that the officers read out an order stating that the search of the Mejlis was being carried out in connection with the events on May 3rd. The document did not carry either an issue number, nor the appropriate stamp depriving it of any legal force. This is not the first time that the documents imposed with the full repressive weight of Russia’s security service and other authorities are of questionable legality. The same was true of the letters notifying Dzhemiliev and head of the Mejlis, Refat Chubarov of the ban on their entering the Crimea.
According to a court writ read out on september 17th to the head of the Crimea Fund and member of the Mejlis, Riza Shevkiyev, the building must be "evacuated" within 24 hours and if not all property will be seized and nobody will be allowed to enter. The official grounds cited for the move are a writ issued by the Central District Court of Simferopol on September 15th (case № 2-1688/14). This document prohibits the charity from carrying out any of its powers as owner of the Mejlis headquarters and six other addresses, including its right to lease or sell the properties. If the Fund fails to comply with this court order, it could face criminal prosecution. This surreal writ has been issued “to defend the interests of an unspecified circle of individuals” in a law suit against the Crimea Fund. These mysterious individuals’ “interests’ are to be further protected by the Crimea Fund’s bank accounts in Vladimkombank being frozen. The Fund is prohibited from opening new accounts.
Shevkiyev refused to sign that he had read any of the documents presented saying that he has never been informed of any debt incurred by him or the Fund. Mustafa Dzhemiliev, veteran Crimean Tatar leader prohibited from returning to his homeland in April this year, called it an attack by bandits. He poured scorn over the so-called court writ saying that the judge who purportedly issued it has been on leave for some time. The building on Schmidt Street houses the Mejlis, the editorial offices of its official newspaper Avdet and the offices of the charity. Shevkiyev explained to the Radio Svoboda Crimean Service that there is clearly no possibility of evacuating the premises in the space of 24 hours. Yet by not leaving, they give the occupation regime the official grounds for seizing and occupying the building. Riza Shevkiyev also told the Crimean News Agency [QHA] that the aim of the searches is not, as claimed, to investigate events on May 3rd when Crimean Tatars peacefully protested over the ban imposed on Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemiliev; "They are trying to intimidate the Mejlis, and the Crimean Tatar people," he said, "and are looking for any possible pretext to dissolve the Mejlis, the Crimea Fund and the Mejlis’ newspaper, Avdet."
Earlier on Tuesday it was reported that the editorial office of the Mejlis’s newspaper, Avdet, was also being searched in the absence of its Chief Editor Shevket Kaibullaev. Both the paper and its chief editor have previously been accused of something that the occupation regime calls "extremism". In June Kaibullaev received a formal warning, after the prosecutor installed after the Russian occupation, Natalya Poklonskaya claimed that texts in the newspaper arouse tension in inter-ethnic relations and constitute extremist activity. The words deemed ‘extremist’ appeared to include "annexation", "occupation" and "temporary occupation of the Crimea". On Tuesday evening Shevkiyev reported that the FSB had also searched the office of their charitable fund, this being in flagrant breach of the law.
Shevkiyev links the development with the low turnout at the ‘elections’ organized on Sept 14 to the Crimean parliament and local bodies. The Mejlis had called on Crimean Tatars and all Crimeans concerned about the grave rights violations since Russia’s annexation, and Crimean Tatar rights in particular, to boycott the elections. The call was clearly headed in full. No western government, incidentally, has recognized the "elections". Shekiyev believes that the Crimean Tatars are to be used as a scapegoat, presented as the source of the ills facing the Crimea and as an enemy element, with repressive measures against them stepped up. The offensive against Crimean Tatars – and others who oppose Russian occupation - began considerably earlier and has been escalating over recent months. In a statement reiterating its call on Crimean Tatars and all concerned Crimeans to boycott Sunday’s ‘elections’, the Mejlis cited a long list of repressive moves, as well as crimes, such as the murder of Reshat Ametov, which the authorities are basically refusing to investigate.
On Tuesday the Crimean Tatar Diaspora living in Turkey released this following collective statement:
DECLARATION AGAINST THE OCCUPATION OF THE BUILDING OF THE MEJLIS OF THE CRIMEAN TATAR PEOPLE
(Ankara; 16 September 2014):
"On 16 September 2014, the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, the supreme representative body of the Crimean Tatar People, was occupied by masked gunmen. According to the information received, it was understood that the raid learned to have been conducted by the Federal Security Service (FSB) had been carried out in order to investigate the activities of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, in other words, to crush the activities performed against the Russian occupation.
Our people and opposing residents in Crimea have been forced in various forms to acknowledge the temporary Russian invasion of Crimea which has been continuing since February this year. They attempted to deceive people by so-called elections and imitations of democracy; however, at points where they could not achieve, they started to take despotic “measures”, revealing the true face of the invasion and Russian administration, such as scaring the people by police, canceling demonstration permits, searching houses, detaining people.
The Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People has maintained its steady position against the Russian invasion, however, during this process, our national leaders, notably Mustafa Abdülcemil Kırımoğlu, the leader of the Crimean Tatar People, were threatened, not allowed to enter Crimea, detained and tried to be intimidated. Despite all these efforts, our Sky Blue Flag and the Ukraine Flag being the symbol of our position against the invasion could not be lowered from our National Mejlis building. There have been efforts to lower especially the Ukraine Flag several times; night raids have been organized against our National Mejlis by gunmen; however, our determined position could not be prevented.
Several days ago, an election was held by the invasion government in order to show their loyalty to the Russia Federation and play game of democracy in Crimea, so as to legitimate the current unlawful situation. Even though the words of invasion authorities imply otherwise, the entire world see that majority of the residents of Crimea, notably the Crimean Tatar People, boycotted these elections. In spite of all election manipulations and multiple votes, the turnout in the elections stayed very low, not reaching even 50%. Invasion authorities distort the election results and try to prove differently. These elections not having been recognized by many countries and international organizations, notably European Union, are considered to be an instrument to deceive the world and, first and foremost, the Russian people.
As a result of the process continuing such a way, on the night of 15 September, armed persons committed another armed assault against the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People and lowered the Ukraine Flag. On the morning of 16 September, somewhat reminding of the morning of 26 February, the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People was invaded this time by the persons who are well known where they came from; and the officers in the Mejlis were dismissed from the building. The road on which our National Mejlis is located was blocked and patrol wagons were brought in front of the National Mejlis. Everyone resisting and disobeying the directives was threatened by weapons and by being taken into custody.
According to the information we received, the raid committed by the Russian Secret Service and the invasion government established in Crimea being the puppet thereof is not the first insult to which our people have been subjected. It is so clear that this assault was made in order to sentence the Crimean Tatar People who protested the elections held in Crimea and that they wanted to frighten our people. The Crimean Tatar People who did not follow the so-called leaders chosen by the invading administration spoiled the game and therefore they are now being threatened. Taking into consideration the increasing pressures, these actions trying to break the resistance of our nation and destroy our civilization in Crimea prove that the point of view of the Crimean Tatar People on the Russian invasion and Russian despotism is absolutely right.
We, the Crimean Tatar Diaspora living in Turkey, have been closely following the developments with deep concern. Striving for that the Crimean Tatar People live in its homeland in peace, we will not hesitate to use any means at our disposal in line with our national principles in case even one of our citizens has a nosebleed.
We strongly condemn the Russian aggression, the human rights violations and pressures that took place and taking place. We honorably announce that we will always stand behind our people and our national movement in Crimea.
It is respectfully announced to the Turkish and World Public Opinion."
Searches have been carried out in a large number of Crimean Tatar homes, as well as prosecutor’s office checks of various institutions. Such searches began back in May, however the scale over the last two days is unprecedented.
[Video-Crimean Tatars Facing Raids: Armed Russian officers reportedly raid Tatar homes in occupied Crimea]
On Sept 16 armed men carried out a search of the home of Eskender Bariyev, member of the Mejlis and removed computer technology. Bariyev says that men with machine guns burst into his home at around 6.30 on Tuesday, and then began searching the flat. The intruders saw no need to modify their behaviour or hide their machine guns despite the fact that Bariyev’s wife and small children were present. They claimed to be looking for weapons, ammunition and prohibited literature as part of a criminal investigation into the events on May 3, however did not provide any court order. Another search was carried out in the home of the head of the Belgorod Regional Mejlis., Mustafa Asaba.
On Sept 17 armed men also carried out searches of at least four Crimean Tatar homes in the village of Kolychugino outside Simferopol. The events on May 3 were once again cited as a pretext, as well as a domestic incident which took place several months ago. Six police cars and one GAZel carrying men with machine guns appeared in the village. The searches themselves, purportedly looking for weapons, drugs and ‘prohibited literature’ lasted from 2-3 hours.
There was also a search on Wednesday of a mosque in the Simferopol suburb of Fontany. Shevket Bekirov, head of the Fontany mejlis says that people from the Prosecutor’s office were checking whether believers in the mosque take part in salat, or ritual prayer and whether they are involved in ‘extremism’. The check was carried out during prayers. Three books on the large list of books that the Russian authorities for reasons of varying levels of plausibility deem to be ‘extremist’ were removed and five others taken away for ‘checking’.
A telling example of where the occupation regime is looking for ‘extremism’ was demonstrated in one other search on Wednesday, this being of a school with Crimean Tatar tuition in Zuya, Belgorodsky district.
The searches are clearly aimed at intimidating Crimean Tatars, and destroying the Mejlis which has from the outset opposed Russian occupation and stressed that the Crimean Tatars are in their own homeland. The Mejlis is currently holding legal consultations to determine its next move.
Aydar Muzhdabaev [Айдер Муждабаев] on Эхо Москвы/Echo of Moscow [EKHO MOSKVY]: "The persecution of the Crimean Tatars is a disgrace for Russia and the whole world."/Травля крымских татар - позор для России и всего мира
"A huge and strong state, the Russian Federation, with the hands of the authorities appointed by it and the “officials” it has sent, is creating a tyranny in relation to an indigenous people – the Crimean Tatars, of whom there are no more than a million on Earth, and only about 300,000 in Crimea.
Crimean Tatars are forbidden to celebrate their holidays or commemorate the victims of political repressions wherever they occurred in their homeland, except at “places of compact residence”, which have de facto become an ethnic ghetto.
The democratically-elected leaders of the people are forbidden entry to Crimea.
Crimean Tatars are mistreated: at work and in everyday life – by colleagues and neighbours, who “suggest” that they get out of Crimea, on the streets – by people in masks and without them, calling themselves “self-defence”, and by “officials” all over the peninsula, for whom, it seems, the law doesn’t exist.
Widespread searches are taking place, during which in the building of the Majlis (Crimean Tatar Parliament in #Simferopol) and in people’s homes they look for “weapons and extremist literature”.
Naturally they don’t find any, because the Crimean Tatars have never taken up arms, and have never considered or committed any extremist acts.
Crimean Tatars are a peaceful people who do not pose a threat either to the authorities or to their neighbors of any nationality. Lately the moral terror in relation to the Crimean Tatars has increased severely. The aim is evidently to gradually force some of the indigenous people out of their homeland, and the rest to be forced to exist in Crimea as second-class citizens.
This is unworthy of a great country. This is a disgraceful blot on the civilized world. This is inhuman treatment of defenceless people. This must be stopped.
I appeal to the president of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin. Stop the mistreatment of the Crimean Tatars – in your government. I appeal to the leaders of the countries of the world and international organizations – it is in your power to express support for the Crimean Tatar people and influence the situation, to prevent it from getting to forced deportation and apartheid. I appeal to the world and Russian communities, to famous writers and poets, artists and scholars, sportspeople, and religious figures – raise your voices in defence of Crimean Tatars.
Unfortunately, until now the Crimean Tatars have mainly either unfulfilled promises or indifferent silence heard from the people and organizations listed above.
This is unconscionable and, ultimately, it is disgraceful. Crimean Tatars don’t cry. But it is already impossible to look at the tears of women and children who don’t know what kind of fate awaits them. I ask all people – those who are not indifferent or who have some power – to do everything to stop this persecution of a people who had already suffered, almost half of whom died during Stalin’s deportation.
A country that destroys the weak cannot be considered great. A world in which such injustice reigns cannot be considered civilized. A person who sees this and doesn’t try to oppose it cannot have a clear conscience."
Crimean Tatar Mejlis given 24 hours to leave
Armed offensive against Crimean Tatar Mejlis
Offensive against Crimean Tatars continues
Crimea: Soft Ethnic Cleansing Tactics as a Prelude to Genocide of the Crimean Tatars