World Bulletin / News Desk
The future of Crimean Tatars is uncertain following Crimea's annexation by Russia, Amnesty International has said.
The comments by the human rights organisation came on Friday after the indigenous population voiced concern over the peninsula’s annexation following the controversial 16 March referendum, which they have rejected.
John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International, said: "The Tatar community have faced increasing violence and discrimination, despite assurances made by the de facto Crimean authorities to protect Tatars' rights."
Dalhuisen said the Russian authorities had estranged the Crimean Tatars, threatened to dissolve their highest representative body and allowed armed groups alleged to have been behind violent attacks against Tatars to operate in Crimea.
Many Tatars felt insecure after the annexation, which stirred memories of their mass deportation in 1944 under Soviet leader Josef Stalin in which around 250,000 Crimean Tatars - including women and children - were taken from their homes and forced to migrate, facing hunger and thirst, to areas thousands of kilometers away from Crimea.
Following the unification of Crimea with Russia, thousands of Tatars fled the peninsula amid fears of political persecution, despite official promises by Moscow to respect their rights and freedom.
'Act of harassment'
Many Tatars also boycotted the referendum in which 97 percent of the electorate voted in favor of joining Russia.
Dalhuisen said that those who stayed in the annexed peninsula faced the unpleasant choice of having to give up their Ukrainian citizenship and accept a Russian one, or become "foreigners" in their homeland.
Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemilev, who warned that Russian authorities in Crimea were forcing the population to become Russian citizens after the annexation, was also denied entry into the Crimean peninsula by Russian forces on 3 May.
He was barred from entering Russia via a Moscow Airport and forced to use land transport through Kiev to reach the peninsula, which was an act of harrassment Amnesty International said.
Crimea Tatar leaders say their people are determined to vote in the presidential elections in Ukraine on Sunday.Last Mod: 24 Mayıs 2014, 11:28