World Bulletin / News Desk
Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry called on Thursday for Russia to stop repression of Crimean Tatars in the annexed peninsula.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mariana Betsa wrote on Twitter, “Outraged by new raids, searches, [and] unlawful arrests of Crimean Tatars in occupied Crimea. Urge Ru to halt repressions,” with a hashtag “StopRussianAggression.”
Earlier on Thursday police carried out searches of houses in the city of Bakhchysarai and arrested four Crimean Tatars, according to sources who spoke on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking with the media.
Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in March 2014. Since then, the region’s Tatar minority has complained of repression, including arbitrary arrests and detentions.
Meanwhile, according to the Crimean News Agency (QHA), Mejlis Deputy Chairman Ilmi Umerov has been taken into custody by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSS). Crimean Mejlis leader Refat Chubarov also confirmed the detention.
The assembly of Crimea’s Tatars, known as the Mejlis, was banned this April by the Supreme Court of Crimea as an "extremist organization" following a prosecution application lodged in February.
Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry, as well as the Turkish Foreign Ministry, condemned the move as a violation of human rights and part of a continued campaign of “intimidation and oppression.”
May 18, 1944 marked the beginning of the deportation of tens of thousands of Crimean Tatars to Central Asia by Joseph Stalin’s Soviet government, which accused them of having collaborated with occupying Nazi forces.
Around 180,000 people were deported to various regions within Soviet territory, in particular Siberia and Uzbekistan. Almost half of the exiles, who endured months of dire living conditions, are thought to have died of starvation and disease.
This 30-year exile continued until 1987, when the Soviet government allowed 2,300 Crimean Tatars to return to their homeland. Another 19,300 people followed in 1988.