STRASBOURG (QHA) -

Held in Strasbourg on April 18-21, a session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) looked into Nagorny Karabakh and Donbas conflicts, as well as the plight of Crimean Tatars in Crimea and Russia’s Justice Ministry’s decision to recognize the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people an extremist organization.

After listening to Nils Muiznieks deliver a speech on human rights abuses in Russian-annexed Crimea, Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people Refat Chubarov met in person with Mr Muzhnieks to discuss the issue, Refat Chubarov reported on his Facebook page.

“I have had a meeting with Nils Muiznieks, the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights, attended a briefing on the human rights situation in Russian-occupied Crimea and suspension of the Mejlis’s activities, and met with PACE President Pedro Agramunt,” Refat Chubarov wrote.

318 PACE MPs attended a talk delivered by Refat Chubarov and members of the Kharkov Human Rights Group called ‘Crimea: De-occupation via diplomatic means’, Georgy Logvinsky, Ukrainian MP, Deputy Chairman of the Ukrainian Parliament’s Committee for Human Rights, National Minorities and International Relations, wrote on his Facebook page.

"From ‘a peninsula of laughter’ Ukraine’s Crimea has turned into ‘a peninsula of fear. Political repression, dissidents being harassed, people going missing never to be found again, Ukrainian citizens being forcefully in the Russian army, property rights violations being committed, people’s privacy being invaded, restrictions on freedom of expression being perpetrated, discrimination on the basis of language or religious beliefs, people being forced into acquiring Russian citizenship and unable to defend their rights at courts - this is the hell Crimeans are living through in today’s Crimea,” Logvinsky wrote.

Logvinsky also commented on the ban imposed on the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people.

“What does the Mejlis mean to Crimean Tatars? Everything! What does its banning mean today? Nothing! What will we do to prevent the extermination of the Crimean Tatar people? Everything and more than that,” said Georgy Logvinsky.

Logvinsky went on to say that Ukrainian citizens being harassed by the Russian occupation authorities would be protected by introducing diplomatic and personal sanctions, establishing new institutions of criminal liability, developing mechanisms of international legal protection and submitting complaints to international courts.

According to Logvinsky, the fact that PACE President Pedro Agramunt and the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks cancelled their scheduled meetings to meet with Refat Chubarov is a testimony to the fact that Europe cares about the plight of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people.

“What does the cancellation of the meetings mean? It means how much the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people matters to the European Community. At our meetings, we discussed virtually every topic of relevance to us with regard to Crimea and the Mejlis. We also got to discuss in detail the ‘Crimean issues’ with President of the European People's Party Axel Fischer, as well as Lithuanian and Latvian MPs. One’s active position and desire to secure a better future for one’s people open all doors and make the impossible possible,” Logvinsky wrote.

In her statement made on April 13, 2016, Natalia Poklonskaya, the so-called ‘Crimea’s Prosecutor General’, said that Mejlis activities in Crimea would be suspended pending a ruling by ‘Crimea’s Supreme Court’.

A hearing in a lawsuit seeking to ban the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people due to be held on April 15 was rescheduled for April 25 due to the failure of Mejlis Deputy Chairman Nariman Jelyal failure to show up.

On April 18, 2016, Russia’s Justice Ministry put the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people on the list of public and religious associations, which activities are suspended in Russia due to their extremist activities.

QHA