What You Need To Know:
✓ Russia could soon ban the Mejlis, the Crimean Tatar’s self-governing body;
✓ Banning the Mejlis would further isolate Russia internationally and incur the wrath of indigenous peoples worldwide, Loode warns
✓ Ukraine treated the Crimean Tatars as a threat until 2014, Loode thinks;
✓ Since the annexation of Crimea, the Crimean Tatars have been fierce supporters of Ukraine.
Since Russia’s annexation of Crimea two years ago, the Crimean Tatars have mounted a slow and steady resistance campaign. Russia has increased its repression of the indigenous people, most recently threatening to ban the group’s self-governing representative body, the Mejlis.
“For indigenous peoples, representative bodies have central importance,” Oliver Loode, a member of the UN Forum on Indigenous Issues, told Hromadske. “They are the main vehicles of realizing human rights of indigenous peoples.”
He added: “If a representative body is being banned, it’s really not just a hostile act towards a particular organization, in this case the Mejlis, but it’s really an attack against the people, in this case Crimean Tatars.”
Loode, who is from Estonia, also spoke about how Russia’s treatment of the Crimean Tatars would negatively impact its position on the world stage.
“There will be repercussions,” he said, regarding the potential banning of the Mejlis. “It would really sink Russia’s reputation in the sphere of indigenous rights to new lows.”
Loode added: “If Russia can violate the collective rights of one indigenous group so brutally, why does it bother to show a good face at the United Nations?”
Oliver Loode, a member of the United Nations Forum on Indigenous Issues, spoke with Hromadske on February 26th, 2016 in Kyiv.