President and distinguished members
of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
Ambassadors and Charge d’Affaires
of the member-States of the Council of Europe
of the Council of Europe
We all need a strong Council of Europe
to ensure peace built upon justice and international cooperation
The Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar, the highest executive-representative body of the Crimean Tatars in period between sessions of the Qurultay of the Crimean Tatar People, appeal to you with regard to the attempts to reinstall the powers of the delegation of the Russian Federation in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
In 2014 and 2015, Russia’s voting rights within the PACE were suspended in response to the Russian aggression against Ukraine. It is a statement of fact that Russia illegally annexed Crimea, launched systemic repressions against the Crimean Tatar people, the indigenous people of Crimea, and militarily interfered in Donbass leading to the death of around 10,000 people, according to the UN.
Mejlis commends the Parliamentary Assembly and the Committee of Ministers for non-recognizing the reality Russia tries to coercively create in the occupied Crimea and for putting pressure on Moscow to cease gross violations of human rights and obvious crimes against peaceful citizens it commits at our native land.
We are grateful for numerous PACE Resolutions and CM Decisions related to this matter.
In its decision on the situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine), adopted in May 2017, the Committee of Ministers underlined that the decision of the Russian occupational court declaring the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People an extremist organization and banning its activities, and the decision banning leaders of the Mejlis from entering Crimea, gravely violated the rights of the Crimean Tatars. Moreover, the Committee called for full implementation of the UN General Assembly Resolution 71/205 of 19 December 2016 “Situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine)”.
We are also thankful for resolutions of the Assembly, in particular № 1990(2014), №2034 (2015), №2063(2015) and №2132 (2016) whereas the Assembly, inter alia, calls on Russia to:
reverse the illegal annexation of Crimea;
fully and transparently investigate deaths and disappearances in Crimea as well as allegations of abuse and human rights violations by the police and (para)military forces active in this region;
refrain from exerting pressure and threatening to close independent media outlets and reverse the closure of the Crimean Tatar television channel, ATR;
refrain from harassing, and putting pressure on, Crimean Tatar institutions and organisations;
release all persons who were subjected to illegal arrests and detention in Crimea;
lift the ban of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, labeled as an "extremist organization", which is a flagrant repressive measure targeting the entire Crimean Tatar people;
to allow the return to Crimea and free movement through the administrative border for the leader of the Crimean Tatar people, the Commissioner of the President of Ukraine on Crimean Tatar people affairs Mr. Mustafa Dzhemilev, the Head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People Mr. Refat Chubarov, other members of the Mejlis and activists of the Crimean Tatar people;
take all necessary measures to ensure the continued availability of education in the Ukrainian language;
Just one year ago, PACE adopted Resolution №2132(2016) «Political consequences of the Russian aggression in Ukraine». It combined in itself the demands of all previous resolutions addressed to Russia and resolved that «only significant and measurable progress towards their implementation can form the basis for the restoration of a fully fledged, mutually respectful dialogue with the Assembly».
Since then, nothing has changed for the better. To the contrary, numerous reports indicate that the situation with human rights in Crimea further deteriorates.The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on situation of human rights in the temporarily occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine) has recently reported that«the Russian Federation authorities in Crimea have failed to effectively investigate most allegations of human rights violations committed by the security forces or armed groups acting under the direction or control of the State. Failure to prosecute these acts and ensure accountability has denied victims proper remedy and strengthened impunity, potentially encouraging the continued perpetration of human rights violations».
In light of this, the Mejlis strongly believes that at this stage there are no grounds for Russia’s return to PACE. Any decision aimed at reinstalling Russia at PACE should be based on the Council of Europe Statute and values, and PACE Resolutions, rather than on fears of financial consequences of speculations about virtual Russia’s withdrawal from the Council of Europe.
If Russia succeeds, it will consider its return to PACE as carte blanche for further escalation of repressions and as a certification of the legitimacy of the policy of annexation mastered by President Vladimir Putin.
We, the Mejlis, understand the pressure Russia is exerting on the Council of Europe pursuing its goal. Yet, this pressure is incomparably lower that the pressure and the terror which the Crimean Tatar people experience daily from the occupying authorities. If Russia returns to PACE unconditionally, the Assembly and its members will share responsibility with Moscow for furtherabductions, arrests, imprisonment and tortures in Crimea usedto crush dissent and freedom.
If the Council of Europe allows Russia to succeed in blackmailing, it will compromise itself, and our hope for international support in liberating our motherland will pale.We need a strongCouncil of Europe to ensure peace built upon justice and international cooperation. The protection of human rights in Ukraine and the respect to the rights of the Crimean Tatar people cannot be provided unless an end is put to the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation and to the military invasion of the Russian armed forces in the East of Ukraine, which violate the international law and principles supported by the Council of Europe.
We therefore call on you to oppose the return of the powers of the Russian delegation to PACE pending the full implementation of key demands set by the Assembly and the Committee of Ministers in their resolutions.
Head of the Mejlis
of the Crimean Tatar People