Turkey, Politics, World

Turkey condemns outlawing of Crimean Tatar Mejlis

The decision is part of a pressure campaign against Tatars using intimidation and suppression, says Foreign Ministry

Hale Türkeş   | 27.04.2016
Turkey condemns outlawing of Crimean Tatar Mejlis

Ankara

ANKARA

Turkey has condemned Tuesday's Crimean court decision to prohibit the activities of the legislative body, Tatar Mejlis, calling it part of a continued campaign of “intimidation” and “suppression.”

In a statement issued Wednesday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said that the Crimean Tatar Mejlis was “the democratically elected and legitimate representative and decision-making body” of the Crimean Tatars.

“Prohibition of the Mejlis’ activities is the latest step taken by Russia that targets the unity and integrity of the Crimean Tatars in the aftermath of the [2014] annexation of the peninsula,” said the statement.

“With this decision, Crimean Tatars once again face a new step whereby they are forced to yield to and surrender to policies of intimidation and suppression.

“We regret and condemn this decision, which is a new manifestation of both the systematic and collective pressure on the Crimean Tatar community, as well as the blows being struck at the fundamental rights and freedoms of the inhabitants of the Peninsula.”

The ministry concluded by saying that Turkey would continue to support the Crimean Tatars’ "just struggle" and efforts to putting an end to such pressures on their community.

The Mejlis was banned Tuesday by the Supreme Court of Crimea following a prosecution application lodged in February.

“The non-government organization Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people has now been recognized as extremist,” said prosecutor Natalya Poklonskaya, as reported by Russia’s government-run TASS news agency.

“That is, its activity is banned in the Russian Federation in general. Any actions will be assessed as illegal. If the Mejlis members or its representatives conduct any activity contrary to the court ruling, they will be brought to responsibility.”

The Russian Justice Ministry has already put the organization on a list of banned groups, TASS said.

In a written statement, Thorbjorn Jagland, secretary-general of the Council of Europe, also condemned the court’s decision, as did EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

“I am very concerned by the decision taken today by the court of Simferopol to declare the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People an ‘extremist organization’ and to ban it,” he said.

He voiced fears the ban would unleash a fresh wave of oppression in Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in March 2014.

Jagland highlighted a recent human rights report issued by the council that said: “Qualifying the Mejlis as an extremist organization would considerably increase the risk of further alienation of the Crimean Tatar community.”

Refat Chubarov, president of the Mejlis, told a news conference that the body would continue working from Kiev and condemned the “unlawful” decision.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry also criticized the judgment as "violation of human rights".

The Mejlis is the representative and executive body of Crimean Tatars and consists of 33 members located in Simferopol.

Since Russia's annexation of Crimean peninsula, the region’s Tatar minority has complained of repression including arbitrary arrest and detention.


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