At the moment of the invasion of Crimea by Russia in 2014, the persecution of the Tatars in this territory began, says the representative of this indigenous nation, Eskender Bariiev.
Bariiev in an interview for The Geopost, emphasizes that the persecution of the Tatars by Moscow is systematic.
“Since 2014, when the occupation of Crimea began, the persecution of the indigenous Tatar people in this territory began. These persecutions were systematic”, he emphasizes.
According to him, with the beginning of Russia’s military aggression in Ukraine in 2022, obvious crimes against Tatars by Russians have appeared.
” With the beginning of full-scale aggression on February 24, 2022, we noticed a number of changes that affected all processes: the first thing I want to draw your attention to is that in addition to human rights violations and arrests of Crimean Tatars, when political prisoners began to appear, obvious war crimes began in the South, in the newly occupied territories of Ukraine, and in addition to political prisoners, new categories also appeared, this is the category of prisoners of war and the category of civic hostages.”, asserts Bariiev.
Bariiev points out that if the international community had intervened in time in Crimea, according to him, there would not have been a complete aggression against Ukraine by the Russian Federation.
“If the international community had reacted immediately, in 2014, when the invasion of Crimea began, then I think there would not have been a complete aggression against Ukraine by the Russian Federation”, Bariiev points out.
“I mean, at that time, neither the Ukrainian authorities, nor the Ukrainian community, nor the international community were really ready, that’s why during all these 8 years we have constantly declared on international platforms that the Russian aggressor will not stop”, he says.
In the end, the representative of the Tatars emphasizes that Russia’s goal is to destroy Ukraine as a state and the people of different nationalities in this country.
“Russia’s goal is to destroy Ukraine as a state and people of different nationalities as a people with its own identity. Therefore, here we can always say that it would have been better if there had been more help”, emphasizes Bariiev.
In this interview, he also talked about how the Kremlin is systematically carrying out propaganda among the population of Europe and among the citizens of the United States of America.
TheGeopost: How do you comment on the situation in Ukraine after 1 year of aggression from Russia?
First, after the Russian aggression, I want to highlight a few main criteria or changes that have occurred since the beginning of the full-scale aggression.
Since 2014, when the occupation of Crimea began, the persecution of the indigenous Crimean Tatar people on the territory of Crimea began. Due to the fact that its representative bodies Mejlis and Kurultay and the Crimean Tatar people themselves did not participate either in the referendum, or in various political processes in the form of elections, the persecution of the indigenous Crimean Tatar people began.
These persecutions were systematic. As far as Crimean Tatar Resource Center is concerned, we systematically monitor and record all human rights violations that are committed in the territory of the occupied Crimea. With the beginning of full-scale aggression on February 24, 2022, we noticed a number of changes that affected all processes: the first thing I want to draw your attention to is that in addition to human rights violations and arrests of Crimean Tatars, when political prisoners began to appear, obvious war crimes began in the South, in the newly occupied territories of Ukraine, and in addition to political prisoners, new categories also appeared, this is the category of prisoners of war and the category of civic hostages. These are such people who were forcibly kidnapped, placed and held in basements. Well, in relation to these people, for example, no criminal proceedings were opened. And there were a lot of such people. And therefore, for our part, in the territory of the South of Ukraine, this is the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions, we constantly record and we call it not just arrests, but illegal penetrations into someone’s households, not just detentions – but stealing and accordingly, in this way we clearly record everything, all these processes.
Next, I want to draw your attention to the fact that in Crimea itself, from the first days of the full-scale aggression, they began to persecute activists, primarily Crimean Tatars. Before they used to give warnings, then starting from the beginning of March and from the end of February 2022 they began to impose administrative penalties in the form of arrests, from two to fifteen days. And almost all of these arrests took place in March and February 2022, many activists of the Crimean Tatar national movement in Crimea were subjected to it.
Then they began to create new tools for further persecution of the Crimean Tatar people, and by the decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, they recognized the battalion named after Noman Çelebicihan as an illegal military formation, that is, a terrorist organization. In this regard, it was in 2022 that a fairly large number of people were arrested and decisions were made against them, and they are in places of detention both in the territory of Crimea and in the territory of the South of Ukraine, these are the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.
Next, I want to say that if we take the South of Ukraine, that is, the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, then, of course, people began to leave these territories en masse, of course, including representatives of the indigenous Crimean Tatar people who lived compactly there, because their households were illegally penetrated into, many of them were detained and kept in basements, so even those who managed to leave faced with the thing that their homes were penetrated into their absence. Therefore, they were forced to come to the mainland of Ukraine.
I also want to highlight that in one of the schools where the director and the main teaching staff were mostly Crimean Tatars (that is school number 1) in Novoaleksiivka they conducted a search and declared (there is even a video on the Internet) that the education| teaching was conducted in Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian language.
TheGeopost: How is the situation in Crimea and has the West done enough to help Ukraine?
First of all, if the international community had reacted immediately, in 2014, when the occupation of Crimea began, then I think that there would not have been a full-scale aggression against Ukraine by the Russian Federation. That is, at that time, neither the Ukrainian authorities, nor the Ukrainian community, nor the international community were really ready, therefore, throughout all these 8 years, we have been constantly declaring on international platforms that the Russian aggressor will not stop. The thing that happened in 2014 and the fact that more and more Russians are starting to try to impose their own narrative that Crimea is Russia\n – this gave the subsequent reason for the Russian Federation to continue to seize more and more new territories in Ukraine.
As for the situation after the full-scale aggression, we are very pleased that the Western world has nevertheless united, that the United States and European countries united their efforts due to which today Ukraine is receiving both military and social assistance, humanitarian assistance, economic assistance, and this, of course, a great contribution to the fact that the armed forces of Ukraine and the military forces of Ukraine could liberate the territory occupied by the Russian Federation, and this is right, because if there is no support and there is some kind of temporary truce, then during this period of time the Russian Federation will again accumulate weapons. The goal of Russia is to destroy Ukraine as a state and the people of Ukraine of different nationalities as a people that has its own identity. Therefore, here we can always say that it would be better if there would have been more help. It would be possible to de-occupy the territory much faster, including Crimea, if both the United States and European countries provided long-range weapons, it would be possible to eliminate the entire logistics of the supply of Russian weapons and eliminate all military units, military facilities that they improved in Crimea , because all these military facilities are used as the source of constant attacks on Ukrainian cities, which are being carried out to these days and killing thus civilians. The thing is that the launch of missiles mainly takes place from the Black Sea and from the territory of Crimea.
TheGeopost: Do you have any message for the Balkan countries that may fall prey to Russia?
First of all, I want to thank the citizens of Europe and the citizens of the United States for supporting Ukraine, because politicians are very dependent on the position of citizens in their decision making. Indeed, the Russian Federation is systematically conducting propaganda among the population of Europe and among the citizens of the United States, trying in every possible way to present that “Ukrainians are Nazis”, that “Ukrainians provoked this war.” In addition, they constantly launch fakes about NATO. Therefore, in this case, we, the Crimean Tatar Resource Center, and a number of organizations similar to us, we systematically work with citizens, with residents of partner countries, and in order not to succumb to Russian propaganda, we first of all recommend use information resources with both from Ukraine and from checked resources, including resources of the Crimean Tatar Resource Center. Secondly, journalists play a big role here, and I want to thank the journalists of the Western world who were able to convey truthful information to society about tortures, murders, occupation, and war crimes that are being committed on the territory of Ukraine. From our side, we are always ready to provide materials confirming the war crimes of the Russian Federation conducted on the territory of Ukraine, including those conducted against or in relation to the indigenous Crimean Tatar people. /TheGeopost/