Muiznieks: I am concerned about the banning of the Mejlis

The banning of the Mejlis creates grounds for a sizeable portion of the Crimean Tatar population to be discriminated against.

26 April 2016 17:51

Nils Muiznieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, expressed his concern over today’s court decision in Crimea to ban the Mejlis, Muiznieks wrote on his Facebook page.

“I am very concerned about today’s court decision in Crimea to ban the Mejlis by declaring it to be an extremist organisation. As the highest representative body of the Crimean Tatars, the Mejlis is indissociable from their aspirations to reestablish themselves in the peninsula after decades of exile during the Soviet era,” Muiznieks wrote.

Muiznieks also wrote that he is concerned by the fact that ‘a very wide range of persons associated with mejlis structures at the local level could be exposed to possible criminal prosecution, as the local mejlis bodies would themselves fall within the ambit of the ban’.

“The Mejlis is an important traditional and social structure of the Crimean Tatar people. Equating it with extremism paves the way for stigmatisation and discrimination of a significant part of the Crimean Tatar community and sends a negative message to that community as a whole. I strongly urge a reversal of this ban in the interests of human rights protection and social cohesion on the peninsula,” Muiznieks wrote.

On April 26, a court in Crimea delivered a verdict, recognizing the Mejlis an extremist organization and banning its activities in Russia, including Crimea.

In her accusatory speech delivered on April 26, Natalia Poklonskaya, the so-called ‘Crimea’s Prosecutor General’, accused the Mejlis of being ‘an extremist organization cooperating with the West and having links to terrorist organizations’.

As a proof of the Mejlis’s extremist activities, the Russian court admitted into evidence ‘Protest in the Woods’ article published in 1988. According to Mejlis Chairman Refat Chubarov, international organizations, including the United Nations, will respond to the banning of the Mejlis in Russian-ocupied Crimea by taking relevant action.

Nariman Jelyal, Mejlis First Deputy Chairman, said that international organizations, such as the UN, the OSCE, the Turkish governments, the United States, the European Union, expressed their support for the Mejlis.