Ukrainian Human Rights Lawyers have issued the following statement to condemn the recent threats against activists, lawyers, and other human rights defenders (HRDs) in Crimea. Human Rights Matter stands in solidarity with these hardworking HRDs as they defend their freedoms.
Together, the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, Media Initiative for Human Rights, Human Rights Information Center, Regional Center for Human Rights, Ukrainian Legal Consulting Group, Crimean Human Rights Group, CrimeaSOS, Human Rights Movement of Crimea, and Promo LEX Moldova have put forth this important statement;
On October 27, 2018 representatives of Crimean occupying authorities stormed a meeting of the Crimean Solidarity. Officers of the Prosecutor’s Office and law enforcement served the defenders and lawyers of Kremlin’s political prisoners notices warning them against violating anti-extremism law as well as the law on gatherings, rallies, demonstrations, processions and pickets.
In particular, notices were served to lawyer Edem Semedliayev, lawyer and human rights defender Liliya Hemeji, and Crimean Solidarity coordinator and human rights defender Diliaver Memetov. Incidentally, the lawyers were discussing with the participants of the meeting issues dealing with legal protection of persons prosecuted by Crimean occupying authorities in unjust political trials.
Simultaneously, an attack on Crimean Solidarity’s media resources was launched, namely on the organization’s new website that was opened at the meeting. In addition, some of the organization’s posts on Instagram were banned.
We strongly condemn persecution of lawyers and human rights defenders in the occupied Crimea and demand that the Russian government immediately cease unlawful suppression and obstruction of lawyer work and human rights activities, as well as the use of Russia’s “anti-extremism and anti-terrorism” legislation in the occupied territory, in violation of international humanitarian law, for persecuting people for their public, lawyer and human rights activities.
We ask international organizations and governments of democratic states:
- To continue putting pressure on the Russian government to put a stop to the persecution of Crimean Solidarity activists and obstruction of the work of independent lawyers in the occupied Crimea.
- To condemn the use by Russia of its own “anti-terrorism and anti-extremism” legislation for prosecuting lawyers, human rights defenders and civil society activists in the occupied Crimea.
- To impose personal sanctions on persons involved in gross violations of human rights in the occupied Crimea, as well as on those directly involved in the obstruction of lawyer work and persecution of the Crimean Solidarity.
- To strengthen sectoral sanctions against the Russian Federation for systematic gross violations of human rights and war crimes in the occupied Crimea.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already condemned the rising oppression of Ukrainian citizens by Russia in the temporarily occupied territories of Crimea and Sevastopol.
It is worth noting that this is not the first case of persecution of the Crimean Solidarity and obstruction of the work of independent lawyers in the occupied Crimea.
Thus, law enforcement officers interrupted a meeting of the Crimean Solidarity in a similar manner in January 2018; the officers unlawfully held and questioned the participants of the meeting for more than six hours. In May 2018 Crimean Solidarity coordinator Server Mustafayev was arrested on charges of terrorism; in March 2018 another activist, Nariman Memedeminov, was arrested, and a criminal case was initiated on charges of extremism against Gulsum Aliyeva, the organization’s human rights defender and activist.
Furthermore, in January 2017 law enforcement representatives of the occupying authorities conducted an illegal search in the home and office of the famous Crimean lawyer Emil Kurbedinov, detaining him for 10 days on trumped-up charges.
In September 2016 an investigative check was performed on Russian lawyer Mykola Polozov who defended members of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People in criminal cases started by the occupying authorities, after which FSB officers unlawfully arrested him, to intimidate him and interfere with his professional activities aimed at protecting victims of human rights violations in Crimea.
Crimean Solidarity is a platform that brings together relatives and lawyers of political prisoners, providing legal, financial and moral support to victims of the regime and their families.