Turkey ‘closely following’ arrest of senior Crimean Tatar figure


 ISTANBUL DIPLOMACY SEP 05, 2021 11:55 AM GMT+3A woman walks past a Russian military personnel carrier outside a Ukrainian military base on March 18, 2014 in Simferopol, Ukraine. (Getty Images)

In response to Russia’s latest attempt of repression against Crimean Tatars, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said Saturday that Ankara is closely following the detention of the Crimean Tatar National Assembly’s deputy chairman by Russian forces with “concern.”

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tanju Bilgiç said in a statement that they had received news that Nariman Dzhelyal, the deputy head of the Crimean Tatar National Assembly, has been “detained and taken to an unknown place following a raid on his house in Crimea” early on Saturday and that his whereabouts are yet unknown.

“We are following the developments with concern,” Bilgiç said, adding that Turkey expects Dzhelyal and the four other Crimean Tatars arrested with him to “return to their homes and families as soon as possible.”

Earlier on Saturday, President of the Crimean Tatar National Assembly Refat Chubarov said on social media that Dzhelyal was being held in the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) building in Crimea after he was taken into custody at his home in the city of Akmescit.

Russian security forces also arrested more than 50 people in Crimea, a senior Ukrainian official said late Saturday.

“There are already 50 detainees in Crimea, relatives, friends, activists, including 2 civilian journalists, who came to the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) building to enquire into the fate of 5 Crimean Tatars detained shortly before,” Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzhaparova said on Twitter.

“Mass repression against Ukrainian citizens is an act of revenge for the Crimea Platform,” Dzhaparova noted.

Dzhaparova said in an earlier statement that a recent series of arrests of Crimean Tatars by Russian authorities constitutes “another wave of repressions in the temporarily-occupied Crimea.”

Citing human rights organizations, she said “occupation authorities” had conducted searches in the homes of Crimean Tatars, abducting five people.

One of those abducted, Nariman Dzhelyal, is a Ukrainian Crimean Tatar politician, journalist, teacher, political scientist and “deputy chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, banned by Russia in 2016,” Dzhaparova noted.

The Crimean Platform is a new consultative and coordination format initiated by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for the rapid de-occupation of Crimea and to increase pressure on Russia.

Turkey was among the first countries to voice support for the Crimean Platform that was held on Aug. 23.

During the summit, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu stated that Turkey has never recognized the illegal occupation of Crimea and will not recognize it, underlining that Ankara supports Ukraine’s territorial integrity. He also called on the international community to act as one against the annexation of Crimea.

Turkey is one of the most active supporters of the Crimea issue on the international level, Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister Dzhaparova also said, expressing her hope that the Crimean Platform will strengthen global efforts for the liberation of the region.

Military tensions between Ukraine and Russia have been high since the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula by Russia in 2014.

Turkey, along with the rest of NATO, criticized Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and voiced support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity as Kyiv’s forces battle pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The Crimean Platform was established in October 2020 as part of Ukraine’s strategy to clear Crimea of Russian forces.

Crimean Tatars are a Muslim community indigenous to the Black Sea peninsula. Most Crimean Tatars opposed Moscow’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula. Russian authorities have since cracked down on the community, banning their assembly and television channel as well as detaining and jailing dozens of activists.



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