Over the past two years, 10 mass detentions of Crimean Tatars registered in Crimea
Since the beginning of 2021, at least 10 mass detentions have occurred in the temporarily occupied Crimea. Most incidents occurred near the buildings of Russia’s government institutions. From September to November 2021 alone, the occupiers carried out six mass detentions of activists from the Crimean Tatar community, the peninsula’s indigenous people.
Human rights defenders from ‘Krym SOS,’ a Ukrainian non-profit organization that focuses on the human rights of residents of Crimea, occupied by Russia since 2014, reported in late August.
On September 4, 2021, more than 60 people were detained near the building of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSS) office in occupied Simferopol, who came out to support the previously detained Crimean Tatars, particularly Nariman Dzhelal. The occupiers drew up 58 administrative proceedings and fined 24 people for allegedly “violating the mask regime” in amounts ranging from 5 to 30 thousand rubles (~$52 to $312).
On October 11, 2021, Russian occupying forces detained 20 Crimean Tatar activists who had gathered to learn the outcome of the court hearing against the group accused of belonging to the Hizb ut-Tahrir chapter of Krasnogvardeisky rayon. Hizb ut-Tahrir is recognized as a terrorist organization in Russia but is legal in Ukraine and several other European countries. Seven people were fined between 5 and 20 thousand rubles (~$52 to $208).
On October 25, 2021, Russians detained 21 Crimeans near a court building where a hearing on the Krasnogvardeisky group of the Hizb ut-Tahrir case was broadcast. Lawyers were not allowed to visit the detainees, threatening to bring them to administrative responsibility for allegedly “disobeying the lawful demand of a police officer.” Among the detainees that day was a prominent lawyer Edem Semedlyayev, who was later arrested for 12 days. Russian law enforcement officers demanded that the Crimean Tatar lawyer strip naked. 14 people were fined 10 and 15 thousand rubles (~$104 to $156).
On October 29, 2021, Russian de-facto authorities detained 31 Crimean Tatar activists and citizen journalists who had gathered near the court building. On that day, the sentences were announced to the defendants in the third Bakhchisarai group of the Hizb ut-Tahrir case.
On November 1, 2021, 19 Crimean Tatars were detained despite being free listeners who wanted to know the court hearing results on the Krasnogvardeisky group of the Hizb ut-Tahrir case. 12 people were fined for “violation of quarantine measures” in the amount of 8 to 15 thousand rubles (~$83 to $156).
On November 23, 2021, Russians illegally detained 31 people during a meeting with Edem Semedlyayev, who was released after serving an administrative arrest. Among the detainees were women and children. The judge arrested 21 people for periods ranging from 10 to 14 days and fined nine people in the amount of 10 to 15 thousand rubles (~$104 to $156).
On February 18, 2022, Russian security forces detained 15 Crimean Tatars near the building of the Bakhchisaray District Court. They came to support the previously detained Kurultai delegate, cultural critic Edem Dudakov. On February 19, the same court issued a decision to punish the detainees with administrative arrests. Three people had to pay fines of 10 and 12 thousand rubles (~$104 to $125).
On January 25, 2023, 34 people were detained near the Kyiv District Court in the temporarily occupied Ukrainian city of Simferopol, where a hearing was held on the case of six Crimean Tatars detained after a wave of searches in the Dzhankoy district. Seven of the detainees were released, a person with a second-group disability had to pay a 20,000 ruble fine (~$208), and the rest were placed under administrative arrest for 10 to 16 days.
On July 27, 2023, Russians detained 14 people near the building of the Supreme Court in Simferopol. The appeal hearing in the case of Nariman Dzhelal and the Akhtemov brothers was broadcast there. Among the detainees were relatives of the political prisoners and journalists Kulamet Ibraimov and Lutfiye Zudiyeva. For allegedly “participating in the mass simultaneous presence of citizens in public places”, the court placed Kulamet Ibraimov under administrative arrest for five days and fined Lutfiye Zudiyeva and three other people in the amount of 12 to 15 thousand rubles (~$125 t0 $156).
On August 25, 2023, 22 representatives of the Crimean Tatars community were detained near the building of the Kyiv District Court in Simferopol. They had gathered to support six Crimean Tatars who had been detained earlier after searches in the Bakhchisaray district. All 22 people received administrative arrests of one to seven days.
The human rights organization emphasizes that ignoring the war crimes of the Russian occupiers has led to a deterioration of the human rights situation in the occupied Crimea. The lack of response from the international community to the occupation of Crimea and the further crimes of the occupiers made it easier for Russia to turn the peninsula into a springboard for the invasion of mainland Ukraine a year ago.
Based on assessments of a human rights organization, Krym SOS, 35% of political prisoners from Crimea charged with politically motivated grounds became imprisoned after Russia’s full-scale invasion. Most were accused of alleged involvement in the Islamic political organization Hizb ut-Tahrir or the volunteer Crimean Tatar battalion named after Noman Çelebicihan.
Krym SOS also points out that the total term of sentences for Crimean political prisoners for the year of the full-scale war is almost 700 years.
In April 2023, Dunja Mijatović, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, released a report, “Crimean Tatars’ struggle for human rights.” Mijatović confirmed numerous serious human rights violations, persecution, discrimination, and stigmatization by Russian occupying forces of representatives of the Crimean Tatars community and those who oppose the illegal occupation of Crimea or disagree with other issues.
According to the Mission of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, at least 180 individuals are held in custody or imprisoned on the territory of the temporarily occupied Crimea or Russia.