Today, Ukraine honors the victims of the forcible deportation of the Crimean Tatar people by the Stalinist regime in May 1944, one of the most tragic pages in the history of the twentieth century. Almost every second representative of the Crimean Tatar people died as a result of the forced eviction by the NKVD of almost two hundred thousand representatives of the indigenous people of Crimea.
Soviet policy toward the Crimean Tatars was particularly brutal. The mass forced deportation was accompanied by the deliberate destruction of the historical memory, unique culture and language of the Crimean Tatar people, and the total looting of the property of the Crimean Tatars.
In 2014, Russia resumed criminal Soviet practices against the Crimean Tatar people. In fact, from the first day of the temporary occupation of Crimea, the occupiers launched brutal repressions and political persecutions against the indigenous people: they were forcibly recruited into the Russian armed forces, deprived of the right to peaceful protest, use and development of Crimean Tatar language and culture.
Since 2016, the occupation authorities have banned the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people and ignored the decision of the International Court to overturn this illegal decision. Leaders of the Crimean Tatar people, including Mustafa Dzhemilev and Refat Chubarov, are being persecuted and barred from entering Crimea. The political regime illegally detains more than 120 Crimean citizens, most of them are Crimean Tatars, for political or religious reasons.
Over the past eight years, the Russian occupiers have carried out an unprecedented militarization of Crimea, turning a once hospitable and peaceful peninsula into its military base and undermining security in the Black Sea region. Currently, the Russian military is using the peninsula to shell Ukrainian cities and seize territories in southern Ukraine.
Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine has only exacerbated the human rights situation on the peninsula. Crimean Tatars suffer from systematic political persecution, ethnic and religious discrimination, enforced disappearances, tortures, and detentions. In particular, the occupiers continue to illegally detain the first deputy chairman of the Crimean Tatar People's Mejlis, Nariman Dzhelal, on fabricated charges, which are nothing more than revenge for his position.
We call on the international community to recognize the deportation of Crimean Tatars in 1944 as genocide, to join the International Crimean Platform, within which Ukraine and its partners continue the joint struggle for the deoccupation of Crimea, and to strengthen international sanctions on Russia. The Russian Federation must bear legal responsibility for all its crimes against humanity on the territory of Ukraine, including in the Crimea.