18 May 2023 marks the 79th anniversary of the forced deportation of the Crimean Tatars, which stands as one of the most heinous crimes committed by the Soviet totalitarian regime.
Under false pretences, the USSR accused the Crimean Tatar people in 1944 of collaboration with the Nazi authorities, utilizing this contrived justification to initiate the deportation process. Violating international law, the Soviet government perpetrated an act of genocide with the intent to erase the national identity of the Crimean Tatar people - the indigenous people of Ukraine. They were subjected to prohibitions on their native language, the practice of their religion, and the preservation of their own culture.
We remember those who suffered from this tragedy and pay due respect to the Crimean Tatar people, who have endured oppression from the Russian Empire, the USSR, and now contemporary Russia, over the course of centuries.
Following Russia's temporary occupation of Crimea in 2014 and its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Crimea has effectively become an immense open-air prison and a site for concealing Russian crimes. Over 180 Ukrainian citizens have been deprived of their liberty in Crimea based on politically and religiously motivated persecution. Among them is Nariman Dzhelyal, the First Deputy Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, who was imprisoned by Russia for 17 years due to his participation in the Inaugural summit of the International Crimea Platform. Another poignant example of Russian repressive measures is the detention of 25-year-old Crimean Tatar woman Leniie Umerova, who was apprehended by Russia in December of last year while attempting to visit her ailing father in Crimea. Presently, she remains incarcerated in the Lefortovo pre-trial detention center on charges of high treason, with her only so-called "crime" being her refusal to obtain a Russian passport.
We demand that the Russian Federation cease its violations of human rights in the temporarily occupied territory of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, immediately release all political prisoners, and ensure full compliance with the obligations of the Russian Federation as an occupying power in accordance with international law.
We call upon our international partners, including members of the International Crimea Platform, to condemn the deportation crime and recognize the deportation of the Crimean Tatar people in 1944 as an act of genocide. We firmly believe that only through Ukraine's victory and the liberation of the Crimean Peninsula can the systematic repression against the indigenous Crimean Tatar people be brought to an end and respect for human rights be restored worldwide.