Crimean Tatars are Ukraine’s indigenous people, they support Ukraine’s territorial integrity and categorically oppose the Russian war. In temporarily occupied Crimea, Russian security forces continue pursuing a policy of repression against the Crimean Tatars, massively imprisoning them for supporting Ukraine.
Russia continues to push its narratives about the Crimean Tataras’ mythical support for Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. On April 30, pro-Kremlin media reported that Crimean Tatars had declared their “full support for Russia’s foreign policy” and “unanimously” supported Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Russian media also claimed that Crimean Tatars are ready to participate in Russia’s war against Ukraine, a war that Moscow continues to call a “special operation”.
On April 30 Russian authorities of occupied Crimea held a show congress during which Crimean Tatars allegedly declared their support for Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. According to Refat Chubarov, the chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, to create their fake picture of mass support, the Russian authorities forced students from the Crimean Engineering and Pedagogical University, as well as state employees and teachers to attend the meeting. Chubarov emphasized that the meeting has no political weight and does not reflect the real pro-Ukrainian position of the of Ukraine’s indigenous Crimean Tatars.
“The only purpose for which Russia’s FSB is organizing this “congress” is to simulate Crimean Tatar support for “Putin’s policy and his special military operation” against Ukraine. The “congress” that Russian special services are holding will once again, but absolutely unsuccessfully, try to deceive the world that Crimean Tatars are demonstrating loyalty to the occupying country’s policy and its president, Putin,” Chubarov wrote on his Facebook page.
Since the capture of Crimea, Russia has been manipulating the topic of the Crimean Tatar people. On the one hand Moscow is creating an illusion of “multinational unity in Russia, but on the other, it is pursuing a relentless policy of repression against the Crimean Tatars who are arrested on a mass scale for supporting Ukraine. According to the Crimean human rights organization CrimeaSOS, as of April 2022, 144 people are subjected to politically motivated criminal prosecutions, 122 are already in prison. Imprisoned Crimean Tatars are charged with extremism and terrorism. Russian security services use these charges to round up pro-Ukrainian Crimeans who disagree with the Russian occupation and annexation of Crimea and Russia’s war against Ukraine.
After invading Ukraine and seizing new territories in southern Ukraine, Russian security forces are continuing their policy of violating the rights and freedoms of Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars. The Russian invaders are persecuting Crimean Tatars in Zaporizhzhia and Kherson provinces, illegally detaining, kidnapping, and torturing them.
According to Ludmila Denysova, Ukraine’s Parliamentary Ombudsman for Human Rights, Ukraine has applied to the United Nations Commission of Inquiry into Human Rights Violations in order that international experts take note and account of Russia’s violation of the rights of Crimean Tatars as well as other crimes Russia is committing against the Ukrainian people.
It is also against the law to mobilize Ukrainian citizens living in temporarily occupied territories into the Russian invading army. Conscription for military service in Russian armed forces is a violation of not only Ukrainian but also international law. The recruitment of conscripts in occupied Crimea is prohibited by the Fourth Geneva Convention (articles 51 and 147) and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (article 8 (2)(a)(v)). Crimeans forcibly drafted into the ranks of Russia’s occupying army are victims of the armed conflict and not criminals. They cannot and will not be prosecuted by Ukrainian authorities, the Crimea Prosecutor’s office reported. Ukraine has prepared detailed instructions on how Ukrainian citizens from occupied Crimea who have been illegally mobilized into the Russian army can surrender, save their lives and not follow criminal orders.