What they did to this Tatar father is inhuman. Is humanity at its core flawed when human beings can murder and hate one anothe so easily? Those who speak up against injustice are silenced, and in horrific ways. Humanity itself, progress and understanding cease to exist.
To the left and in the gallery at the bottom of this post are photos on a wall in the East Village of New York City that I came across this past weekend. These photos are a memorial and testament of what was done to Resat Amet and the horrors and human rights atrocities occurring in Crimea. As recorded, "on March 3, 2014, Reşat initiated a solitary and peaceful protest against the occupation of Crimea by the Russian troops. During his protest in front of the Crimean Council of Ministers building in Simferopol's Lenin Square, he was abducted by three unidentified men in military uniform from the "Crimean self-defense" who took him away." They found his body thirteen days later. He had been brutally tortured, his eyes gauged out. He had a wife and two small children and he was just 39 years old.
The silent, peaceful protest was about the Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014. Although the United States, Europe and news organizations spoke up in defense of Crimea, Russia annexed Crimea in what many view as an outright invasion that violated all international laws. (See http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/28/russia-crimea-white-house The Guardian, February 28, 2014)
Last week, the Russia-imposed "Justice Ministry" banned the Mejlis, a Tatar legislation. Thousands of Tatars died in Serbian prisons years ago in a brutal deportation. The Tatars were the only ones who spoke up in defense when Russia annexed Crimea. Read the recent NY Times Report: Tatar Legislation Banned in Crimea. As the NY Times states, the Mejlis was founded in 1991 to represent a Turkic Muslim minority with deep roots in Crimea, whose members began to return to their homeland after a brutal deportation in 1944. Tens of thousands are believed to have died in Siberian prisons and Central Asia, making the survivors deeply distrustful of Moscow. About 10 percent of the peninsula’s 2.3 million people are Crimean Tatar, according to the most recent census. When Russia was moving toward annexing the peninsula, Tatar activists provided the only opposition. After annexation, Crimean Tatars were systematically harassed, and many activists were arrested or disappeared."
The European Parliament recently condemned the decision of the Supreme Court of Crimea on 26 April 2016 to ban the Mejlis, "the legitimate and recognised representative body of ethnic Crimean Tatars" and demanded the immediate reversal of this decision" which is the "systemic and targeted persecution of Crimean Tatars" and "is an attempt to expel them from Crimea, which is their historical motherland."
The European Parliament "urged the Russian Federation, which under international humanitarian law bears ultimate responsibility as the occupying state in Crimea, to uphold the legal order in Crimea, protect citizens from arbitrary judicial or administrative measures, and conduct independent international investigations of any violations of international law or human rights committed by the occupying forces and the so-called local authorities." They reiterated Parliament's "severe condemnation of the illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula by the Russian Federation on 20 February 2014, which it says was a breach of international law, and also its full commitment to the sovereignty, political independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders".
Is there really anything any government or international body can do however? The Russian Foreign Ministry stated: Theme of Crimea’s territorial affiliation is closed forever. "Any attempts, including those in the European parliament, to put forward maps with hand-drawn borders are sheer waste of time, money and effort," the Russian Foreign Ministry's spokesperson says.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has called for an end to repressions against Crimean Tatars in occupied Crimea, ministry’s spokesperson Mariana Betsa wrote on Twitter. “Again there were searches in occupied Crimea. Persecution, intimidation of Crimean Tatars. We urge the occupant to stop repressions,” she wrote. Betsa also added that “international organizations should have the access to occupied Crimea for the permanent monitoring of the situation with human rights”. The article states that erlier, on Thursday morning, Head of the Central Election Commission of Kurultay of the Crimean Tatar people Zair Smedlyayev reported about searches of at least five houses of Crimean Muslims in Bakhchysaray. Also, there were reports about a search of a local café. According to employees of the café, two buses with armed law enforcers arrived there.
It appears there is nothing NATO or anyone can do against Russia, Josh Cohen writes in his report published on Reuters stating Ukraine cannot even be part of NATO because of its conflict with Russia, published May 4, 2016 http://reuters.com/article/idUSKCN0XW0V3
If human rights atrocities like this can happen to young fathers, to men, women and children, in any part of the world, what does that say about us? It is easy to hide behind social media, to lose yourself in stories of Beyonce, Lemonade, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, to hide from the truths of the world. When horrors happen to you, however, it is to your fellow men and women that you will cry out for help. Horrors and injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere. If it can happen there, it can happen here. What can we do? Speak up. Refuse to be silent. Let the world know this is happening and ask international bodies to intercede. The only way we can save humanity is by actually trying to save it.
Leading Light Foundation is a legal non-profit devoted to global affairs and international human rights efforts. It was founded in 2008 by New York attorney Nishi Rajan. It is staffed by pro bono attorneys, writers and volunteer contributors.