Delivered by Ambassador Ihor Prokopchuk, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna at the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on 5 February 2015
The Delegation of Ukraine would like to draw attention of the members of the Permanent Council to the alarming tendency of increasing repressions, serious human rights violations and discrimination against the Crimean Tatar national minority and ethnic Ukrainians in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol under the Russian illegal occupation.
The most recent appalling incident is the illegal detention of the Deputy Chairman of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis Ahtem Ciygoz by the Russian occupying authorities in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea on 29 January 2015.
Mr. Ciygoz was placed under arrest till 19 February 2015 on trumped-up charges of “organizing mass disorder” near building of the Verkhovna Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea on 26 February 2014. The illegal arrest of Mr. Ciygoz was preceded by Russian security services’ search of Crimean Tatar "ATR" TV Station in Simferopol and extraction from archives of the materials regarding the events of 26 February 2014.
We condemn the illegal arrest of Mr. Ciygoz and urge his immediate release. We expect the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities to take as a matter of priority Mr. Ciygoz’s illegal detention in the HCNM’s overall efforts to address the current grave situation with the national minorities’ rights in the occupied Crimea. The Ukrainian side has also brought this unacceptable incident to the attention of the UN and the Council of Europe.
This outrageous case together with numerous earlier instances of persecution and flagrant discriminatory policy towards Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians testify to ever-increasing repressions by the Russian occupying authorities in violation of their responsibilities as an occupying authority under international law and of the OSCE principles and commitments.
Since the attempted annexation of Crimea by Russia, the indigenous population of Crimean Tatars has been subjected to constant terror and physical violence, including cases of killings, abductions and torture of activists, pressure on independent media and religious institutions, as well as threats to all those residents of Crimea who reject the illegal occupation and the illegal conferral of the Russian citizenship. The occupying authorities failed to investigate the cases of enforced disappearances and torture since March 2014.
The Head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people Refat Chubarov and the leader of the Crimean Tatar people, the Representative of the President of Ukraine for Crimean Tatar people Mustafa Dzhemilev were banned by occupying authorities from entering Crimea.
The authorities exercising de facto control in Crimea continue to intimidate Crimean Tatars under the unfounded pretext of combating extremism. There are cases of dozens of representatives of different confessions and religious communities who have been harassed or forced to leave the peninsula.
The human rights violations by occupying authorities target not only the Crimean Tatar community, but also seek to eradicate all manifestations of the Ukrainian identity, education and culture on the peninsula. Pro-Ukrainian activists are exposed to harassment, threats and illegal detention. All Ukrainian-language printed media, and regional or municipal media in Ukrainian are closed. The use of Ukrainian websites is banned and only one Ukrainian TV programme is available for the residents of Crimea. Ukrainian schools in Scholkino and Kerch are being closed. There is continuing pressure on the Ukrainian gymnasium in Simferopol, where the teaching in Ukrainian language was significantly reduced. Only 4 Ukrainian schools in the entire occupied Crimea remain operational, however their future is uncertain due to repressive policy of the occupying authorities.
Ukraine strongly condemns such actions of the occupying authorities, which constitute a clear violation of fundamental freedoms and human rights, and must not be allowed to happen by the OSCE community.
We reiterate that responsibility for human rights’ violations in Crimea rests on the Russian Federation as the occupying power and that any authority exercising control over a territory is obliged to protect the safety, security and human rights of all those residing on that territory, including persons belonging to national minorities.
We urge the Russian occupying authorities to take steps to halt the systemic violations of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, to stop the persecution of the Crimean Tatar indigenous population of Crimea and ethnic Ukrainians, and to immediately release illegally detained Ahtem Ciygoz.
We call upon the OSCE Serbian Chairmanship to provide a strong reaction to these unacceptable cases of serious human rights violations and increasing repressions against the Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian communities in the occupied Crimea and facilitate the release of the Deputy Chairman of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis A.Ciygoz.
We also take this opportunity to underline the importance of our persistent efforts in seeking access to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol of the representatives of OSCE Institutions to assess the human rights situation on the peninsula, which remains an integral part of Ukraine.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.