They usually come at four or five in the morning.
Men in uniform and with guns pull up in large vehicles. The dogs start barking. The family wakes up, knowing exactly what is about to happen. The house is searched. Phones and computers are taken away. And so is the father, or a brother, or another male relative, who is almost always suspected of terrorism – a charge they deny.
This is a typical scene in Crimean Tatar homes in Crimea, a Ukrainian peninsula that has been occupied by Russia since 2014. After declaring annexation, the Kremlin began a targeted campaign against the indigenous Muslim population of Crimea, which has been outspoken against the Russian occupation regime. According to the Crimean Tatar Resource Center (CTRC), 70% of all political prisoners on the peninsula are Crimean Tatars.
The Ukrainian government, together with local and international human rights groups, say Russia has been fabricating administrative and criminal cases against them to silence resistance.
More than seven months into Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Crimean Tatars continue being a target of sham trials. They are also forcefully mobilized to fight against Ukraine on the Russian side. [Continue reading…]