The Dublin-based human rights organisation, Front Line Defenders, has awarded its annual prize to Crimean Tatar human rights lawyer, Emil Kurbedinov. The Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk honours the work of individuals who risk their lives and safety to protect and defend human rights within their communities.
Emil Kurbedinov has been continiously defending the rights of the Crimean Tatar minority, civil society activists and journalists since the peninsula’s illegal occupation by Russia in March 2014.
The Crimean Tatars in peaceful opposition to the Russian occupation face repression and human rights violations on a daily basis. Those who resisted Russian citizenship, for example, experienced discrimination in terms of their access to medical care, employment and education. At its worst, the persecution of Crimean Tatars also includes detentions, kidnappings and killings.
Emil Kurbedinov spoke to Hromadske in March 2017 about the Russian repression of Crimean Tatars: “Repression has taken various forms and each one is followed through rigorously and demands our whole attention. One of the main issues in Crimea is the arrest of activists...We have been saying this for a long time, that there would be mass arrests, since Russia’s main goal is to liquidate all transparency in court hearings, in raids and other “special operations”.
Emil Kurbedinov’s main case has been the so-called “Hizb ut-Tahrir” case, in which nineteen people are accused of trying to overthrow the government. “Hizb ut-Tahrir” is a pan-Islamic organisation which has chapters all over the world and is considered to be an extremist organisation by the Russian Federation. As a result, Emil was also arrested on January 26, 2017, and imprisoned for 10 days on the charge of proliferating extremist material.
However, despite his arrest, Emil Kurbedinov perseveres in his work against the persecution of Crimean Tatars. In his interview with Hromadske, Emil Kurbedinov commented: “I don’t know what to be afraid of. Maybe I just don’t care anymore. I have to say that I haven’t even thought of running away. Not yet. And I hope that I won’t in the future either. We tell the truth, we work within the boundaries of law and will continue to do so”.
/By Sofia Fedeczko