Facts

Human rights groups present report on harassing activists in Crimea, appeal to intl audience, ICC prosecutor

Human rights defenders have presented their report on the directed persecution of civil activists in Russia-annexed Crimea.

"Since 2014 in Russia-occupied Crimea, two main groups of persons have been persecuted: 'political' Ukrainians and representatives of the Crimean Tatar people. They are persecuted according to various categories, these persecutions are connected with the violation of human rights, forced abductions of people, with arbitrary detentions," said Tamila Tasheva, founder and board chairwoman of the public organization Crimea SOS (Krym SOS) at a press conference at the Kyiv-based Interfax-Ukraine news agency on Friday.

Tasheva said in the last year and a half, "an entire arsenal of tools of persecution is used" against activists of the Crimean Solidarity movement, activists of the Crimean Tatar national movement, or Mejlis.

The report, titled "Combat Terrorism or Terrorize Activism," was written after a joint monitoring mission visited Crimea to collect information on the raid, searches and detentions on the peninsula on March 27, 2019, as a result of which 23 Crimean Tatar activists were detained. It is indicated that it was the largest-scale action of Russia-occupation security officials in Crimea.

The report says that on March 27, 2019, at about 06:00, Russian security forces began a large-scale coordinated operation throughout the Crimean peninsula. Dozens of armed men in masks broke down doors and entered private dwellings. Entire settlements were surrounded, and aggressive searches were conducted in the residences of "suspects," their relatives and neighbors.

The report said the searches, arrests and detentions of 23 Crimean Tatars are gross violations of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

"Those arrested apparently became subjects of the raid because of their own ethnic and religious affiliation, which violates freedom of religion (Article 9 of ECHR) and the prohibition of discrimination (Article 14)," the report says.

Crimea SOS, International Partnership for Human Rights and the public organization Truth Hounds organized a monitoring mission to Crimea a week after the raids. The result of the collected materials, evidence and legal analysis was included in the report.

The document provides detailed information about the raids, the context of the events, the legal analysis of the crimes committed, as well as recommendations to the international community and the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The international community is invited to continue imposing sanctions on individuals and organizations responsible for violating human rights in Crimea, as well as to urge Russia to release the Crimean political prisoners.

As for the prosecutor of the ICC, he is urged to include the stated facts and arrests to the competence of the preliminary examination and to demand a full investigation as soon as possible.

The report's authors also urge Russia's ombudswoman to investigate human rights violations set forth in the report.

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