war crimes in Ukraine

The Tribunal for Putin (T4P) global initiative was set up in response to the all-out war launched by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022.

Mustafa Dzhemilev is 60.


M. Dzhemilev was born in a family of villagers. Mustafa’s father had owned a vineyard; he was banished from the Crimea as a kulak, but escaped from the exile and secretly returned to the native land.

On 18 May 1944 Dzhemilev’s family was deported to the Andizhan oblast of Uzbekistan. After Stalin’s death and abolition of some restrictions the family moved to the town of Angren, later – to the town of Mizarchul, where Dzhemilev graduated from the secondary school in 1959. He tried to enter the Eastern faculty of the Middle-Asian state university in Tashkent, but Crimean Tatars were not admitted to this faculty. During two years he worked as a turner and fitter at the Mizarchul repair-mechanical plant. After this he worked at the Tashkent aircraft plant.

In the end of 1961 Dzhemilev took part in the creation of the youth underground organization “The union of young Crimean Tatars”, where he headed the “historical department”. After the destruction of the organization and the arrest of its leaders Dzhemilev had to leave his job “on his own will”.

In 1962 Mustafa Dzhemilev entered the ameliorative faculty of the Tashkent institute of irrigation and mechanization of agriculture, but was expelled from the institute in the third year. The reason was the article “Brief historical review of the Turkic culture in the 13th-18th centuries” written by Dzhemilev and spread by him among the students.

In May 1966 Dzhemilev was condemned by the people’s court of the Leninskiy district of Tashkent to 18 months of incarceration for the refusal to serve in the armed forces.

In his final plea Dzhemilev stated: “The KGB officers are angry because we are collecting the statistical data about the mortality rate in the placed, to where the Crimean Tatars were deported, the materials against the sadists-commandants, who humiliated the people in the Stalin’s time and who… must be tried for the crimes again humanity”. Not long before the end of his term Dzhemilev was transferred to the penalty cell for the “anti-Soviet” propaganda among the prisoners. The state security officers came to the camp. They tried to force Dzhemilev to refuse from the participation in the Crimean Tatars’ national movement threatening him with new sentence. The threats stopped only after he went on hunger-strike.

After the release Dzhemilev got into contact with the activists of human rights protection movement. He signed the petitions for the protection of dissidents, protested against the occupation of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet troops, took part in the struggle for the observance of personal rights. He got acquainted with Western correspondents, who were accredited in Moscow, and was doing his best for informing the world community about the problems of Crimean Tatars deprived of the opportunity to live in the Crimea. “Mustafa was only 20, when he began to tell his fellow countrymen that the isolated national movement of such not numerous people as Crimean Tatars would not succeed. Being an incredibly strong-willed man, an excellent public speaker with the remarkable intellect and extraordinary capacity for work, Mustafa, in spite of his young age, played one of the leading roles in the national movement and occupied the significant place among the Moscow human rights protectors”, recollected P. Grigorenko.

In May 1969, after the arrest of Grigorenko, Dzhemilev joined the initiative group for the protection of human rights in the USSR; he signed the first documents addressed by this organization to the UNO.

In September 1969 Dzhemilev was arrested for the second time. His case was started after Article 191(4) of the Criminal Code of Uzbekistan (which corresponded to Article 190(1) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federative Republic) and was united with the cases of P. Grigorenko and Illya Gabay. On 19 January 1970 the Tashkent city court condemned Dzhemilev and Gabay to three years of imprisonment.

As well as during the previous trial, Dzhemilev expressed in the courtroom his views concerning the problem of Crimean Tatars, the questions of democracy in the USSR and the events in Czechoslovakia. “Motherland or death!” said Dzhemilev finishing his final plea. Later P. Grigorenko recollected: “Mustafa’s speech was so impressive that the judge forgot about his duty to impede the speech”. Dzhemilev also announced the 30-day political hunger-strike in protest against the brutal violations of human rights in the USSR. He spent these 30 days in the Tashkent preliminary prison.

After the hunger-strike Dzhemilev and Gabay were transported to Moscow, to the KGB preliminary prison, where they were accused of the reproduction and distribution of a secret instruction of the VChK “on the information, work at the cases and agents”, which had been found during the search in Gabay’s flat. Yet, after four months the case was closed, and Dzhemilev was sent to Uzbekistan, where he served his sentence.

After the release he settled in the town of Gulistan (Uzbekistan), worked as an engineer in a sovkhoz.

Dzhemilev was arrested for the third time on 19 July 1974. The Gulistan district court condemned him to one year of incarceration for evading the military training (Article 199-1 of the Criminal Code of Uzbekistan). One of the reasons of the arrest was the “operative information” obtained by the KGB about his intention to go to Moscow for handing the petition of Crimean Tatars to USA President R. Nixon, who visited the USSR then.

M. Dzhemilev served his term in a concentration camp in the Omsk oblast. On 19 June 1975, three days before the end of the term, another criminal case was instituted against Dzhemilev for compiling the documents, which disgraced the Soviet state and social system, and spreading the “slanderous” information among convicts. Dzhemilev went on a protest hunger-strike, which lasted for more than 300 days, and was feed coercively.

On 15 April 1976 the Omsk oblast court condemned him after Article 190(1) of the Criminal Code of Russian Federation to 2.5 years of incarceration in concentration camps.

The camp was situated at the Far East, the Primorskiy Territory. One month before Dzhemilev’s release the camp administration tried to concoct new criminal case against him. After the 15-day hunger-strike he was transported by air to Tashkent, where he was released in December 1977. Dzhemilev stayed under the administrative surveillance.

Both during the incarceration and at large Dzhemilev insisted on his right to live in the Crimea; he sent protests to Soviet and international organizations, which protests were distributed in samizdat. More than once he was detained during the attempts to visit his native land.

In February 1979 he was arrested and accused of the “persistent infringement of the rules of administrative surveillance”. On 6 March 1979 the people’s court of the Oktiabrskiy district of Tashkent sentenced him to four years of exile. Dzhemilev refused to take part in the trial, since the advocate, whom he chose, was not admitted to defend him.

Dzhemilev served his exile in Yakutia, in the village of Zyrianka. In July 1982, after the expiration of the exile term, he went to the Crimea together with his wife and child. Yet, three days later the family was evicted from the Crimea and sent under the administrative surveillance to Yangiul, the Tashkent oblast. There he worked as a fitter and a general worker.

In November 1983 Dzhemilev was arrested again and sentenced by the Tashkent oblast court after Article 191(4) of the CC of Uzbekistan to three years of deprivation of liberty. He was accused of the “compilation and distribution of the documents disgracing the Soviet state and political system”, correspondence with his acquaintances abroad, audio-recording of the transmissions of foreign radio stations, the letter to the Japanese radio corporation NHK containing the approval of the position of Japan in the territorial conflict with the USSR and the organization of public disorders during the attempt to bury his father in the Crimea. He was sent to a camp in the Magadan oblast (Russia).

In November 1986 another criminal case (the seventh one) was instituted against Dzhemilev “for persistent insubordination to the demands of the administration of the camp”. His friends and relatives declared that if new verdict would be issued, they would go on the relay hunger-strike (every of them would hunger one day per month) until the end of the term. At first the power wanted to issue a very severe verdict: the prosecution accused Dzhemilev of several tens of criminal episodes and a great number of witnesses were interrogated. However, on 16 December 1986 the assize court, which was conducted in the village of Upter (the Magadan oblast), acknowledged Dzhemilev to be guilty after Article 188(3) of the CC of Russian Federation and condemned him to the suspended sentence. Such light punishment was caused by the change of political situation: the campaign for the release of political prisoners had been started in the USSR in the framework of perestroika.

In April 1987, at the first All-Union Congress of the activists of Crimean Tatars’ movement, Dzhemilev was elected to the Central Initiative Group. He became an editor of the monthly “Vestnik Natsionalnogo Dvizhenija Krymskikh Tatar” (“The Herald of the National Movement of Crimean Tatars”). In May 1989 the Organization of the National Movement of Crimean Tatars was founded at the regular All-Union Congress of the activists, and Dzhemilev became the head of the Central Council of this organization. The same year he, together with his family, moved to the Crimea and settled in Bakhchisaray.

In June 1991 the National congress of representatives of Crimean Tatars was held for the first time after 1917, which was called the second kurultay. At this congress Dzhemilev was elected to the post of the head of Medjlis – the supreme representative organ of Crimean Tatars. In 1996, at the third kurultay, he was again elected the head of the Medjlis for another 5-year term. In March 1998 Dzhemilev became a deputy of the Supreme Rada of Ukraine after the party list of the People’s Rukh. He is a member of the Supreme Rada committee in charge of human rights, national minorities and interethnic relations.

Human rights protection and political activities of Dzhemilev was rewarded with numerous awards and honorary titles. He got the title of honorable Doctor of Science of the Seldjuk University (Turkey, 1996) and the Higher Technological institute of the town of Gebze (1998). In 1995-1996 Dzhemilev became an honorable citizen of several Turkish towns, the municipality of the town of Izmir gave him the international premium in the sphere of human rights. A park and several streets in Ankara and other towns were named after Mustafa Dzhemilev, as well as a lecture-room in the Seldjuk University and the library of the Kirikkale University.

In 1998 Dzhemilev got the annual F. Nansen prize of the UNO Supreme Commissariat in charge of refugees.


We are sincerely congratulating respected Mustafa Dzhemilev on his jubilee! We wish him health, creative inspiration and success!

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