Debates over if Crimea was annexed or lawfully incorporated into Russian Federation has been ever going across Europe since 2014. Amongst all the debates that look for the resolution of a crisis that all parties blame each other, the Tartar community is neglected and is now under threat of being persecuted.
The Crimean Tatar community has bene living for centuries and did not took part in the referendum that decided the fate of Crimea, and opposed all such unifications. Now, as Russia has implemented its laws and policies on Crimea, the community is facing a backlash and its members are being kidnapped and arrested. Ayder Muzhdadbayev, a Crimean tartar activist said: “There are no barbed-wire fences in this new hybrid ghetto of Vladimir Putin’s – yet. Instead of wire, there is hate-filled TV propaganda, total surveillance, and constant harassment.”
The concern has also been highlighted by the Director of Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Programme, John Dalhuisen. He said, “As the most visible and cohesive group in Crimea opposed to the Russian occupation, the Crimean Tatar people have been deliberately targeted by the de facto local and Russian authorities in a wave of repression aimed at silencing their dissent and ensuring the submission of every person in Crimea to the annexation.”
However, the history through which the Tartar community has gone through is also as complex as the times they are living in now. The trauma and negativity are fueled by not just Kiev and Moscow, but the acts of Stalin, post-Soviet era and the times when Russia and the Ottoman Empire were fierce foes.
Nevertheless, currently, The Crimean Tartar’s principle representative organization, the Mejlis has been banned and many believe that they should be in general be classified as an extremist organization. As per Dalhuisen, “All restrictions on the Meijlis must be lifted, and criminal proceedings designed to harass and intimidate its members, and others that peacefully oppose the Russian occupation and annexation should cease.”
The situation needs to be resolved with peaceful dialogue, rather than forced kidnappings and confessions.