Russia is slowly killing the Crimean Tatar people in the temporarily occupied peninsula – Mufti of Crimea

Дата: 21 October 2023
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The Mufti of Crimea and Chairman of the Religious Administration of Muslims in Crimea Aider Rustemov stated that Russia is “slowly killing the Crimean Tatar people” in the temporarily occupied peninsula.

He made these remarks at the international conference Crimea Global: Understanding Ukraine through the South.

During the event, he recalled the deportations, murders, and disappearances of Crimean Tatars organized by the Russian state at the beginning of the occupation of the peninsula and the hundreds of children left without their fathers’ care as they were imprisoned in politically motivated criminal cases.

He highlighted the prevailing atmosphere of fear in Crimea due to constant searches of the homes and mosques of Crimean Tatars, surveillance of the mosques, forced collection of data, imprisonment on fabricated charges, and mockery of Muslims’ faith.

In addition, the Mufti emphasized that not only Muslims are subjected to repression, but also, in particular, Jehovah’s Witnesses and parishioners of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

He revealed that approximately 5,000 Crimean Tatars were forced to leave the peninsula after February 24, 2022. Those men who remained in Crimea are subject to forced mobilization into Russia’s aggressive war. However, according to Rustemov, resistance to Russian military aggression has united Crimean Tatars, Ukrainians, and, in particular, representatives of North Caucasian nations, contributing to mutual understanding and the increased acceptance of religious differences in Ukraine.

Aider Rustemov

“Now, Jews, Muslims, and Christians are together in the same trench,” Rustemov said, further emphasizing that Crimean Tatars are actively serving in the Armed Forces and Territorial Defense of Ukraine.

According to Diallo Issa Sadio, president of the African Council in Ukraine, people from Africa living in Ukraine are now fighting in the Territorial Defense, have joined volunteer and charitable organizations to aid in the recovery of war-torn Ukrainian communities, and provide humanitarian assistance in the form of food and medicine to those in need.

Diallo Issa Sadio provided insights into Russia’s tactics concerning Muslim populations globally. Sadio pointed out that Russia systematically disseminates disinformation about Ukraine, influencing African media and young people.

Diallo Issa Sadio

According to him, some African dictators support Putin because he finances them and teaches them how to hold pseudo-elections of “presidents” to legitimize their power. Putin also promises to supply them for free with food and fertilizers stolen from the Ukrainian territories occupied by Russia. The Russian state is also using Wagner Group mercenaries to control parts of the African continent. It also establishes Russian cultural centers in African countries to buy the loyalty of locals by providing opportunities to study in Russian educational institutions.

The head of the African Council in Ukraine also strongly denied some myths about Ukraine imposed by Russia. He stated that he has been living in Ukraine since the 80s, and he witnessed the evidence of tolerance and respect for religious freedom on the part of the Ukrainian state and Ukrainians. He gave the following example: almost all Ukrainian cities have either mosques or Islamic cultural centres, so all Muslims in Ukraine have the opportunity to practice their own religious rites and receive an education. 

 Mohammad Fazril Bin Mohd Saleh, the General Secretary of the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM), noted that Southeast Asia was colonized by other states, not Russia and therefore if you criticize Russia, you support your historical colonizers as well as the cases of Islamophobia in these countries. In addition, relatively few Muslims are familiar with the details of the Russia-Ukraine war and the history of Russian-Ukrainian relations. Therefore, in Southeast Asia, it is necessary to explain that Ukraine has never had its own colonies, and that Muslims in Ukraine, in the occupied Crimea, face Russian repression.


Ukraine's victory should be the victory of all Muslims.

Mohammad Fazril Bin Mohd Saleh, the General Secretary of the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia

 Mokhammad Zaidiie, a leader of the Syrian diaspora in Kyiv and Director of the Ukrainian Medical and Humanitarian Foundation of the Union of Organizations for Medical Aid and Care (UOSSM), confirmed that the war in Ukraine is not the only war that Russia is waging against Muslims. In 2015, the Russian state officially entered the war in Syria, contributing to deaths of about 1.5 million people and displacing 7-8 million as refugees.

Mokhammad Zaidiie

According to Zaidiie, more than 11,000 Syrians have been killed in Syria, including over 1,500 women and 2,000 were children, solely because of Russia’s actions. In addition, during the UN General Assembly sessions, Russia has already exercised its veto power “against the will of the Syrian people” on 15 occasions.

Zaidiie is convinced that the world must stop Russia, Iran and other groups that are killing civilians in Syria. He also said that Syrian human rights activists, together with Ukrainian ones, are currently working to hold Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin accountable in the International Criminal Court. In addition, Mokhammad Zaidiie expressed gratitude to the Mission of the President of Ukraine in Crimea for its support of the Syrian people.

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, namely persecution, discrimination, and stigmatization, by Russian occupying forces of representatives of the Crimean Tatar community and those who oppose the illegal occupation of Crimea.
According to the Mission of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, at least 184 political prisoners from Crimea are held in custody or imprisoned on the territory of the temporarily occupied Crimea or Russia.
On October 21, 2023, UN Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, published a report on rape and torture on the temporarily occupied territories.
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