Commissioner on Human Rights: Ahtem Chiygoz’s Arrest is “Legal Surrealism”
The arrest of Ahtem Chiygoz, one of the leaders of the Crimean Tatars and Acting Chairman of Crimean Mejlis, was called “legal surrealism” by Valeriya Lutkovska, Commisioner of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on Human Rights.
“The arrest of the Acting Chairman of the Mejlis, Ahtem Chiygoz, is legal surrealism. This man had the right to assemble peacefully on Ukrainian territory according to Ukrainian law. We presently have no specific law that would regulate peaceful assemblies, but we have the constitutional norm. He has an undeniable right to that. But, for exercising his right under the Ukrainian Constitution, he was thrown behind bars and was searched this morning,” a correspondent of the Human Rights Information Center quoted Lutkovska.
According to the Ukrainian Human Rights Commissioner, this indicates that the occupation authorities of Crimea respect neither Ukrainian nor international law.
Lutkovska doubts that Ukraine has the capacity to protect human rights in Crimea on its own. She emphasizes the need for joint missions by international organizations and a concerted effort of the international community.
“We are certainly going to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which is going to resolve this case in favor of the man. But can we Ukrainians protect all of those who are in the Crimea today on our own? I believe there should be joint effort of all international organizations and the international community. Otherwise we cannot protect our citizens, at least not well enough,” said Lutkovska.
A Crimean court arrested Ahtem Chiygoz on January 29th and is holding him until February 19th. He is being accused of organizing “mass riots” next to the Verkhovna Rada of Crimea building on February 26, 2014. During that time there were demonstrations by Crimean Tatars and by pro-Russian activists, which escalated into clashes. As a result, two people died: a man from a heart attack, and a woman who was crushed by the crowd.
Mustafa Dzhemilev, a leader of the Crimean Tatars and a People’s Deputy of Ukraine, called Chiygoz’s arrest a reprisal by the occupying power against the Mejlis. Dzhemilev recalled that on February 26, 2014, pro-Russian forces staged a rally so that the Verkhovna Rada of Crimea would appeal to Vladimir Putin about the need for Crimea to join Russia.
“In response, the Crimean Tatars gathered more people and drove them away from the Verkhovna Rada. The next day the “little green men” showed up. Perhaps now the Crimean authorities want to somehow take revenge for the defeat and humiliation they experienced on February 26th. The absurdity of their claims is obvious because the demonstration was on both sides, but the riots were launched by separatists, while Crimean Tatars were resisting them,” said Dzhemilev.
Amnesty International has condemned Chiygoz’s detention as “yet another of the repressive measures” against those who oppose the annexation of Crimea.
“By starting the prosecution based on clearly fabricated charges, the local authority has crossed yet another line. The arrest of Ahtem Chiygoz is a forceful attempt to silence critics of Crimea’s occupation and send a message to others about the consequences of dissent in Crimea,” says Tetyana Mazur, Director of Amnesty International Ukraine, quoted by its press service.