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.

Renewed harassment of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis and Qurultay

Halya Coynash

Emine Avamileva, a well-known public figure, lawyer and member of the Mejlis or Crimean Tatar representative assembly is the latest Mejlis representative to face harassment in the major offensive waged by the Russian occupation regime

The Mejlis, or representative assembly of the Crimean Tatar People reports that another member of the Mejlis has been obstructed while trying to return to the Crimea.  On Monday evening, Jan 19, Emine Avamileva, who is both a member of the Mejlis and a delegate to the Qurultay or Crimean Tatar National Congress was detained for over two hours by Russian border guards at the Armyansk crossing between mainland Ukraine and the Crimea. 

“The well-known public figure, lawyer and mother of four” was given no explanation for her treatment which included a body search, an inspection of her car, removal of her passport, telephone and memory stick, and questioning.  After over two hours the items were returned and she was allowed to continue, again without a word of explanation.

The Mejlis calls the numerous cases of such ‘procedure’ with members of the Mejlis and Qurultay delegates psychological pressure.  Without naming any specific individual, it expresses frustration at the ‘certain individuals’ who continue to deny obvious violations of Crimean Tatar rights.  Radio Svoboda’s Crimean page notes that Zaur Smirnov, chair of the ‘state committee on inter-ethnic relations and deported peoples’ under the occupation regime has claimed that information about infringements of Crimean Tatar rights are untrue.  

Serious infringements under the occupation regime have also been reported by the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner, the UN, Human Rights Watch and the Crimean Field Mission on Human Rights.

This is by no means the first such occasion where members of the Mejlis were stopped at the border with mainland Ukraine.  In September 2014 Gayana Yuksel, was taken off the Kyiv - Simferopol train and was held for around 3 hours at the station in Dzhankoy.  Her passport was taken away from her.

Gayana Yuksel was on her way home from Kyiv where her husband Ismet Yuksel has been living since he was banned from re-entering the Crimea.  As reported, Ismet Yuksel, director of the Crimean News Agency [QHA] and adviser to the head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar on relations with Turkey was issued with a 5-year ban on Aug 9.  

This unwarranted harassment of Ms Yuksel came on the eve of the UN Conference on Indigenous Peoples beginning on Monday in New York.  One of the scheduled participants in that conference,  Crimean Tatar scholar Nadir Bekir was attacked by 4 assailants as he was heading to Dzhankoy to catch the train to Kyiv from where he was to fly to New York. 

QHA reports that the head of the Mejlis’ Audit Commission Ali Ozenbash was forcibly removed from the Simferopol – Lviv train at the Armyansk Crossing.  He sustained an arm injury as the result of his rough treatment.

As reported here, the first overt pressure on the Mejlis came with the 5-year ban on entry to his homeland imposed on veteran Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemiliev in late April and similar ban on Refat Chubarov, current Head of the Mejlis.

The offensive escalated in mid-September, immediately after the so-called ‘elections’ which the Mejlis called on Crimean Tatars and all Crimeans concerned about the increasing rights violations under Russian occupation to boycott.  More details here: Moscow endorses offensive against Crimean Tatar Mejlis

It is possible that the timing of this new harassment of a member of the Mejlis is linked to the conference on Crimean Tatar rights held in Simferopol on Jan 17.  After dealing with overt attempts to disrupt the event, the delegates who included the Deputy Head of the Mejlis adopted an appeal to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon calling for protection in connection with ongoing violations of Crimean Tatar rights (see: Crimean Déjà Vu: Titushki & Police against Crimean Rights Conference


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