Russia must end violations in Crimea

Since 2014, Russia has occupied Crimea, Ukraine. Over the last ten years, Russia has sought to change the ethnic makeup of the peninsula and has suppressed non-Russian identities. People have been forced to accept Russian citizenship, religious minorities have been persecuted, students have been subjected to indoctrination and Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian cultural celebrations have been banned. The international community must ensure those responsible are brought to justice.

What’s the problem?

Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 effectively turned many Ukrainian citizens into foreigners in their own country overnight. Those who refused Russian citizenship had to apply for residence permits in their own country or be forcibly transferred out of the region. Russia has transferred its own population into Crimea. These practices may amount to crimes under international law.

Russia has targeted the youth of Crimea, filling schools with propaganda that justifies its war of aggression and undermines Crimean Tatars’ history as an Indigenous People. Meanwhile, the de facto authorities have all but eradicated tuition in the Ukrainian language.

They don’t want us to love them, they want us to fear them.

Ilmi Umerov, Crimean Tatar activist

Religious minorities not endorsed by Russia face discrimination, harassment or being outlawed. The Orthodox Church of Ukraine has been effectively banned and Muslims face persecution. Jehovah’s Witnesses are imprisoned for practicing their faith.

The authorities have silenced any dissenting voices in media, including those in Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian. Residents of Crimea are cut off from Ukrainian media and the de facto authorities use severe reprisals to intimidate and silence independent journalists.

Cultural celebrations, even weddings, are tightly controlled. Permission is required for any public assembly. Ukrainian books have been removed from libraries, and any public display of loyalty to Ukraine is severely punished.

In ten years of occupation, Russia has sought to destroy or suppress Ukrainian and Tatar identity in Crimea. These policies appear to be a blueprint for Russia’s designs on other areas of Ukraine it occupies.

What can I do to help?

Call on the international community to monitor and report on Russia’s violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in Crimea, and acts to bring those responsible to justice.