Side event Human rights situation in Ukraine 16 June 2014
Key talking points of the Crimean Mejlis President Refat Chubarov Dear Mr. Chairman, Ladies and gentlemen, The events that occurred during the last two and half months entailed dramatic political and legal changes like the occupation of Crimea as acknowledged by the international community with its subsequent annexation. Needless to say, all this is affecting all spheres of life of the Crimean community and day-to-day life of every single inhabitant of the peninsula. Since our discussion also revolves around the analytical reviews prepared by the Crimean Field Mission on Human Rights to be presented by Mr. Andrei Yurov, I will use the time to discuss some of the common developments among the Crimean society in general and individual residents in particular. 1. The changes that have already taken place and are still pending in Crimea are affecting over 2.4 million inhabitants of the peninsula to be suddenly governed in their everyday life by legislative acts and regulations of the Russian Federation. However, the easing of some requirements as contemplated by a so-called "transition period", the Crimea-controlling authorities refer to, do not apply in the area of human rights regulation but often serve as an excuse by authorities when human rights are grossly violated or economic, property, or governance-related offenses and abuses are committed. For instance, mass prosecution of citizens (like the participants of a peaceful protest that took place on 3 May 2014, when over 2,500 Crimean Tatar people gathered at the â€œborder checkpointâ€? between Crimea and continental Ukraine to protect the right of Mr. Mustafa Dzhemilev, the acknowledged leader of Crimean Tatars, to enter Crimea). At the same time, not a single criminal investigation into the high profile cases of missing and killed civilians has been initiated.
2. Today's situation in Crimea is defined by apparent selectivity in the application of the Russian legislation by local government with respect to the Crimean people, especially by security agencies. This selectivity triggers a particular concern since it is applied on the basis of national or religious identity of a person, his/her civic and political beliefs, which are often based on the analysis of his/her activities during the period preceding the annexation of Crimea. It is no exaggeration that a notorious question asked in the USSR in the 1920s 1930s - 'What was your occupation before 17 October 1917' (date of a Bolshevik coup d’état) but interpretation nowadays as 'How did you behave before 16 March 2014?’ (before the so-called referendum)' hangs like a sword of Damocles over each single person and even national communities in Crimea to determine the degree of their 'loyalty' to the ruling authorities. This opens door to an increased xenophobia in the society. Public school teachers often involve students in political "disputes". Groundless "preventive conversations" with FSB (Federal Security Service of Russia) and written warnings by the prosecutor office to the activists of the Crimean Tatars national movement, newspaper editors, and citizens confessing Islam, is a common practice today in Crimea. It is clear that all these activities are aimed at putting psychological and moral pressure on the society are covered by vague general statements on equal rights and equality before the law. In reality, activities by the authorities are completely opposite. It was the first time this year since the collapse of the USSR, when holding all-Crimean massive memorial events held annually on 18 May to commemorate the victims of deportation of the Crimean Tatar people was banned. Lame justifications for such a ban, especially on the 70th anniversary of the deportation, were cynically obvious. In fact, as perceived by all Crimean Tatars, the new government of Crimea has been assigned a task to delete the societal memory of Crimea one of the most tragic records in the history of the peninsular - the total deportation of its indigenous people and long decades in exile. It was evident that the Crimean Tatars would not accept such an outrage upon the memory of their families, relatives, and compatriots killed in the course of deportation and in exile. It is known that almost half of the Crimean Tatars (46.2%) died during the first years of exile from the inhumane conditions created by the NKVD in the places of exile (the bolshevik’s repressing secret service machine). But even in those places where thousands of us gathered to express our sorrow and commemorate the victims of deportation, the local authorities put a show with military helicopters trying noise down the prayers and speeches by witnesses of 18 May deportation in 1944.
Moreover, neither Moscow nor Simferopol issued an apology for such a dishonourable action. 3. The enforcement of individual human rights goes hand-in-hand with the observance of collective rights, as we are all well aware of this. However, for the Crimean authorities, and, accordingly, those backing them, this approach is unacceptable. Having asserted control over the territory of Crimea, the government authorities of the Russian Federation could not be ignorant of the past and the present of the Crimean Tatar people. Apparently they were. Moreover, in some cases they even voiced strong statements about the need to restore the rights of Crimean Tatars. However, these statements came to nothing, since neither the adopted Constitution of the Republic of Crimea, nor subsequently adopted laws applicable to Crimea provide for legal instruments that would ensure the restoration of the rights of the Crimean Tatar people. I would like to touch upon only one issue about the representation of the Crimean Tatars in elected bodies and their participation in the governance. The procedure for, and organization of, conducting the forthcoming elections have been established hastily by the State Council of Crimea, particularly, in the laws on the Election of Members of the State Council of the Republic of Crimea and on Elections of Members of Representative Bodies of Municipalities in the Republic of Crimea. These laws challenge and ignore the inherent right of Crimean Tatars to selfdetermination on their historic territory as guaranteed by the fundamental international documents and instruments, including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In developing and adopting the laws of the Republic of Crimea on the Elections of Members of the State Council of the Republic of Crimea and on Elections of Members of Representative Bodies of Municipalities in the Republic of Crimea, the Members of the State Council of Crimea completely ignored the provisions set forth in their own Resolution of the Parliament of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea of 11 March 2014 on guarantees of restoring the rights of Crimean Tatars and their integration into Crimean community, according to which the members of the State Council of the Republic of Crimea should be elected using the proportional system (electoral lists) guaranteeing a 20 percent representation of Crimean Tatars. The rules and procedures for the election of deputies of the State Council of the Republic of Crimea and the representative bodies of municipalities in the Republic of Crimea as established by the laws of the Republic of Crimea virtually disable free election of Crimean Tatar deputies by Crimean Tatars voters because of ignoring the creation of a single Republican Crimean Tatar multi-member electoral district for the election of 15 deputies to the State Council (20%), which would
authorize the Kurultaj of Crimean Tatar people and Crimean Tatar public organizations with the status of a Republican organization to nominate candidates for elections. It is also clear that the election Members of the State Council of Crimea on part of Crimean Tatars in single member electoral districts (25 deputies) will be ineffective due to the geographical dispersion of Crimean Tatars and the lack of electoral districts in which the number of Crimean Tatar voters would constitute a majority or at least parity. Taking into account the national diversity of Crimea and geographical dispersion of Crimean Tatars, the procedures and rules for the election of members to representative bodies of municipalities in the Republic of Crimea as provided by the laws of the Republic of Crimea will also lead to a drastic reduction of current share of Crimean Tatars in their bodies. It should be noted that, setting aside legal instruments guaranteeing the representation of Crimean Tatars in the elected bodies, Members of the State Council of Crimea consciously ignored the experience of formation of parliaments and representative bodies of municipalities in the Republic of Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Buryatia and others where the effective representation of indigenous people is given a special attention. Thus, the discriminatory approach with regard to the implementation of the rights of the indigenous people of Crimea to engage actively in the process of co-managing their historic territory as approved by the State Council of Crimea is purposed to further restrict the rights of the Crimean Tatar people in their historic territory under the cover of nominal presence of loyal Crimean Tatars in the elected bodies of Crimea who are carefully selected and admitted to the elections by the government itself. Therefore, it is against this background that the Mejlis decided: - not to nominate candidates as recommended by the national selfgovernment bodies of Crimean Tatars to be elected as Members of the State Council of the Crimea and representative bodies of municipalities of the Republic of Crimea; - encourage all residents of Crimea, regardless of their nationality, who believe that discriminatory election laws violating the fundamental rights of the Crimean Tatars, the indigenous people of Crimea, will not contribute to strengthening inter-ethnic concord, establishing equitable dialog and social justice at the peninsula, not to participate in the election of deputies of the State Council of Crimea and representative bodies of municipalities in the Republic of Crimea, scheduled for 14 September 2014. Ladies and gentlemen,
Before I finish, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that a mere attempt of holding public and fair discussions on many existing issues in Crimea, especially those arising out of changes driven by external factors, can be qualified by the government as a violation of the applicable legislation while the people concerned may be subjected to legal prosecution. This is how we live in Crimea today. It is the realization of this harsh reality that gives me the right to appeal to all of you to pay a special attention to the problems of Crimea and security of its residents. We, the Crimean Tatars, are strongly convinced that, having returned to our land after almost half a century-long exile, cannot allow living in conditions that pose new threats to the existence and development of our people. The international community, all parties to a situation in Crimea and having influence over the situation in Crimea, should in accordance with Article 1 of the UN Charter, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, take unambiguous measures to provide the conditions and guarantees for the preservation and development of ethnic, cultural, linguistic, and religious identity of the Crimean Tatar people as the indigenous people of Crimea In this regard and as a first step, it is very important for the international organizations, foreign governments and parliaments to acknowledge the Mejlis of Crimean Tatars and Kurultaj, the executive body of the Crimean Tatar people, as the highest representative body of the Crimean Tatar people. We express our thanks to the Parliament of Ukraine, who took a decision on 20 March 2014 acknowledging this claim, and call on all parties concerned to adopt a a similar decision. Thank you for your attention!