Statement by human rights organizations regarding another wave of searches and detentions of Crimean Tatars

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On March 5, 2024, Russian security forces conducted another wave of searches in the occupied Crimea. The searches took place in the houses of 10 Crimean Tatars in Bakhchysarai, Dzhankoi and Dzhankoyskyi area, after which they were detained on charges of alleged involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir (pan-Islamic political party, which is recognized as a terrorist organization under the legislation of the Russian Federation, but legally operates on the territory of Ukraine and most countries of the world). 

The detained Crimean Tatars are activists of the human rights initiative “Crimean Solidarity” and religious figures. One of the detainees – Remzi Kurtnezirov – is a former imam, has a disability of group 2, suffers from diabetes, has suffered three strokes and a skull trepanation in the past. His probable imprisonment will pose a real threat to life, given the systematic ignoring of prisoners’ health problems by Russian jailers, which has already resulted into deaths of two Crimean political prisoners last year. 

These searches confirm the unchanging repressive traditions of the Russian occupation administration in Crimea. The searches began at four a.m., when children and adults were sleeping. During at least six searches today (in houses of Rustem Osmanov, Aziz Azizov, Ali Mamutov, Remzi Kurtnezirov, Arsen Kashka and Vakhid Mustafaiev), Russian security forces seized prohibited literature, which they themselves planted, in particular the book “Caliphate”, often used to falsify “Hizb ut-Tahrir cases”.

Today’s searches and detentions will have a long-term impact on women and children who will be effectively left without a breadwinner by the arrest of their husbands and fathers. In addition, the arbitrary invasion of a home in the middle of the night by heavily armed Russian security forces creates a risk of psychological trauma for children. For example, in February 2024, the 13-year-old son of Crimean political prisoner Aider Dzhapparov died of a long illness that has occured after his father’s arrest in 2019.

As practice shows, the Russian occupiers conduct mass searches in the homes of Crimean Tatars every six months, only based on the anti-terrorist article. During the 10 years of occupation of Crimea, 17 mass waves of such searches are known. In addition, in the last six months alone, the Russian occupiers conducted two waves of searches in houses of members of independent Muslim religious communities, and in February 2024 they detained lawyer Emil Kurbedinov and human rights defender Lutfiye Zudiyeva.   

The Russian Federation is using its anti-terrorism and anti-extremism legislation to persecute Crimean Tatar activists, human rights defenders, journalists and religious figures. Russian propaganda periodically declares to domestic and foreign audiences that Russia is allegedly fighting Islamic terrorism in Crimea. However, such actions have nothing to do with the fight against terrorism, but are a way of terror against the civilian population of the occupied territories of Ukraine. This is confirmed by the increasingly brutal systemic practice of abductions, torture, imprisonment and other atrocities of the racist regime against the residents of Crimea, Sevastopol, Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions. This practice appeared in Crimea long before February 24, 2022, despite the fact that the international community, for incomprehensible reasons, preferred not to pay attention to such atrocities.

Russia’s defiant disregard of practically all norms of international law once again proves that the only way to stop the arbitrariness and impunity of the occupiers, to prevent new war crimes, crimes against humanity and gross violations of human rights in Crimea and other occupied territories of Ukraine, is their soonest de-occupation with the help of available diplomatic, sanctioning legal and military measures, including the right to individual self-defence provided for in Article 51 of the UN Charter, and the restoration of Ukrainian law and order in these territories.

Therefore, we call on the governments of foreign countries and international organizations, in particular the participants of the International Crimea Platform to the following actions:

  • Adopt a joint statement with a strong consolidated protest against today’s searches and detentions of 10 Crimean Tatars;
  • Increase comprehensive, including military, support for Ukraine with the aim of de-occupation of all territories of Ukraine, including the Crimean peninsula, as de-occupation is a necessary condition for the protection and restoration of human rights in Crimea;
  • Introduce personal sanctions against persons involved in today’s searches and detentions;
  • Provide comprehensive support to victims of political repression in Crimea, their families and lawyers;
  • Continue to monitor and document human rights violations, war crimes and crimes against humanity in the occupied Crimea and include them in regular reports on the human rights situation in Ukraine;
  • Provide assistance to the Government of Ukraine in the investigation of war crimes, crimes against humanity and gross violations of human rights in the occupied Crimea;
  • Increase diplomatic, sanctions and other pressure on the Russian Federation with the aim of preventing new atrocities in the occupied Crimea and the mainland of Ukraine, as well as speeding up the de-occupation of all territories of Ukraine;
  • Maximize the use of the International Crimea Platform, the mechanisms of the UN, the Council of Europe, the OSCE and other international organizations to speed up the release of Crimean political prisoners, civilian hostages in the occupied territories, effective response to human rights violations in the occupied Crimea, and the approaching of de-occupation of all territories of Ukraine;
  • Contribute to the expansion of the participants of the International Crimea Platform with the involvement of the countries of the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America;
  • Contribute to the expansion of the mandate of the Council of Europe Register of Damage to war crimes and human rights violations starting from 2014;
  • Contribute to the creation of a special mechanism for holding the political and military leadership of the Russian Federation liable for the crime of aggression against Ukraine.


Human Rights Centre ZMINA 

DIYA Human Rights Center

Association of relatives of political prisoners of the Kremlin NGO

Crimean Process NGO

Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

Center for Civil Liberties