Moscow has detained 20 Crimean Tatars in the illegally-annexed Crimean peninsula in what human rights groups claim is a crackdown on the Muslim minority group in the region.
Russian counter-terror forces say they are associated with the Hizb ut-Tahrir Islamist group which has been banned in countries such as Russia, China, Turkey, and Germany.
Hizb ut-Tahrir is a global Islamist entity that seeks to unite all Muslim countries into an Islamic caliphate and enforce Sharia law. Despite Russia considering it a "terrorist organization," there hasn't be any evidence of any harmful or dangerous activities performed by its members, human rights activists and lawyers of Crimean Tatar families repeatedly argue. The group has not been banned in Ukraine.
Since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, the de-facto local authorities have prosecuted dozens of Crimean Tatars for alleged ties with Hizb ut-Tahrir and other Islamist groups. Many argue the so-called "Hizb ut-Tahrir connection" to be a justification for political persecution, specifically targeted at the Crimean Tatar population of Crimea.
According to a representative of NGO Bizim Balalar (“Our Kids” in Crimean Tatar), which was founded after persecutions against the Muslim population of the peninsula intensified following the Russian annexation, the 20 detainees have 55 children that now risk growing up without one or both parents. The organization, which focuses on providing support to the children and families of Crimean Tatar political prisoners, previously reported the number of these children to be 111 before the March 27 incident. The latest detentions raise this number to 166 children.
Human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Crimean Solidarity have described Russia’s detention of Crimean Tatars as a “campaign of repression.” Ukraine’s ambassador to the European Union Mykola Tochitsky has asked Brussels to condemn the detentions.