OUTRAGE: Home of Mustafa Dzhemiliev searched
In the latest affront to veteran Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemiliev and to the Crimean Tatars on the eve of the seventieth anniversary of the Deportation, a search has been carried out of Dzhemiliev’s home.
His wife, Safinar was taken ill as a result and needed to be hospitalized. 71-year-old Mustafa Dzhemiliev, former Mejlis leader and Ukrainian MP, could not be there since Russia has banned his entry to the Russian Federation – and his native Crimea which Russia annexed in March. He explains that he received a phone call telling him that a search was being carried out of his house and that his wife was in hospital. “OMON [Russian riot police] with automatic rifles surrounded the whole block. There were 11 or 12 buses, they appear to have been preparing for some kind of war”.
Mustafa Dzhemiliev says that they claimed that the search was because the occupying forces of the Crimea do not trust the investigation carried out a year ago after Dzhemiliev’s son Khaiser accidentally shot and killed a friend of the family, Fevzi Edemov. They are planning to begin the investigation again.
Since only Dzhemiliev has a key to his office, the OMON officers entered by force. As reported they also searched the home of the Mejlis press secretary, Ali Hamzin. His son saw the court order which apparently said that Hanzin is suspected of ’terrorism’. Jemiliev reports: “After they’d searched Ali Hamzin’s home, one of the officers said: “You can thank us that we didn’t plant anything”. It’s hard to say whether they planted drugs or weapons on me, but that at least is what they said.”
Enforcement officers have already summoned around 150 Crimean Tatars in Stary Kirim for interrogation, allegedly because they wear head scarfs. They have had their fingerprints taken and been asked how long they have been going to mosque. Earlier Dzhemiliev stated that FSB officers are almost openly watching people in mosques, picking out those who seem most devout, with this being treated as a form of ’extremism’
Mustafa Dzhemiliev was informed on April 22 that a 5-year-ban had been imposed on his entering his native Crimea. Both Moscow and the government installed at gunpoint in the Crimea have yet again resorted to dishonest subterfuge. Just as Russian President Vladimir Putin denied Russian military involvement until long after the annexation of the Crimea, so too have Russian authorities lied about the ban. The very next day, for example, there were public statements denying the authenticity of the paper which Dzhemiliev was handed. That document does indeed look dubious and no other, Dzhemiliev says, has been issued.
The ban, however, has already been enforced. On May 2 he was stopped from flying to Simferopol via Moscow, and forced to return to Kyiv.
The Mejlis responded by cancelling all events planned for a festival on May 3 and called on Crimean Tatars to come and meet Mustafa Dzhemiliev on the border between the Kherson oblast and Crimea.
Around five thousand Crimean Tatars did precisely that. In an especially shameful development, armed OMON officers were deployed, together with the so-called Crimean “police” to prevent Dzhemiliev crossing into the Crimea.
It was yet again a credit to Dzhemiliev and the Crimean Tatars that the stand-off ended without bloodshed. Not unfortunately without repression. The so-called ‘prosecutor; Natalya Poklonskaya responded by seeking to have criminal charges brought against some of the participants in the peaceful protest, while others have already received fines. Polonskaya also issued the head of the Mejlis, Refat Chubarov with a warning that the Mejlis could be dissolved, claiming that the protest was “action of an extremist nature”.
Refat Chubarov is quoted as saying that “it seems any Crimean Tatar can today not be allowed back to his homeland. The Crimean Tatars who for 50 years fought for the right to live in their homeland.”
Mustafa Dzhemiliev recently became the first laureate of Poland’s Solidarity Award, and just this week was awarded, together with Myroslav Marynovych, the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom. On April 15 he was awarded Turkey’s highest honour - the Medal of the Republic.
6 months old when the entire Crimean Tatar people were driven from their homeland, Mustafa Dzhemiliev spent much of his life fighting for the right of the Crimean Tatars to return to the Crimea. His defence of Crimean Tatar rights and Ukrainian democracy, his unwavering commitment to only peaceful protest, have won him deep respect among Ukrainians and throughout the world. He spent 15 years in Soviet labour camps, and it is not only a personal tragedy for him and his family, but for all Crimean Tatars and Ukraine that Russia seems incapable of shedding that legacy of repression.