Anonymous Telegram channels, as well as Russian media, claim that Crimean Tatars refrain from taking to the streets in the occupied territories of Ukraine to protest against Russian invasion. The reports say that’s what Ukrainian authorities allegedly expected from the ethnic group, meaning that the latter didn’t live up to their hopes, and that it’s only ethnic Ukrainians who put up any resistance.
In fact, this isn’t the case and in this way Moscow is just trying to manipulate public opinion about Crimea in other territories temporarily under Russian control, attempting to pit the two ethnic groups against each other. Along the same lines, the Russians were earlier spreading fake reports that the Crimean Tatars living in Kherson region had been receiving death threats from “Ukrainian radicals.” Russian government-owned RIA Novosti claimed these “radicals” who are part of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People (the organization recognized as extremist and banned in Russia) are exerting pressure on Crimean Tatars, intimidating and threatening them, including over their children studying in Ukrainian cities. Among other things, thereport also claimed the radicals “demanded” that the Crimean Tatars go out to protest against Russian invaders, so that Ukrainian and foreign media could cover these events.
In fact, this is about Russia pursuing their long-established information line regarding defiant Crimean Tatars, who in every way possible speak up against the occupation of Crimea, and now – Russian aggression in mainland Ukraine. Crimean Tatars do stand up against the invasion. On March 6, there was a rally they held in Novo-oleksiyivka, Kherson region, which is a known fact. The Russian authorities systematically persecute members of the Crimean Tatar community both in Kherson region and Crimea precisely over their resistance. This is also a known and confirmed fact.
Now Russia has turned the captured peninsula into a springboard for attacking Ukraine. The Russian forces have been launching missiles targeting mainland Ukraine both from Crimean land and off its coast. In addition, contrary to the norms of international humanitarian law, Russia is drafting Crimea residents into its army. The law says the occupying power shall not attract any human resources from the temporarily occupied territories in order to replenish own armed forces. This is an absolutely clear norm of international law. Conscription and mobilization of Crimeans for war against their compatriots is a war crime, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry stresses. In this regard, MFA Ukraine has issued a protest. They are convinced that with these illegal actions, the Kremlin regime is trying to compensate for the unprecedented losses its forces have suffered since the onset of their invasion.
The occupying authorities of Crimea are doing everything possible to force the inhabitants of the peninsula to submit to the Kremlin regime, including by blocking access to Ukrainian websites and preventing civilians from leaving Crimea. All dissenters are subjected to repression. It is no secret that the FSB has lists of those opposing the regime, including many Crimean Tatar activists. As early as in the very first days of the war, Crimean Tatar activists’ homes were raided and some of these people were detained. The Crimean Human Rights Group believes the main goal of such repressions is to prevent people from standing up against the occupation regime in an organized manner. All those who could lead the resistance, become a public leader of such movement against the occupying authorities have long been persecuted, but now this oppression has become even harsher. The formal reason for the the arrest of Crimean Tatars is most often their alleged involvement in organizations banned in Russia. However, the aggressor power systematically violates people’s rights in order to suppress any manifestations of dissent. Nearly 230 political prisoners are already serving their sentences in Crimean prisons, while throughout Russia this figure is 10 times higher.