U.S. Statement as delivered by Jessica Carl
UN Human Rights Council
December 15, 2017
Thank you Mr. Vice-President, Deputy High Commissioner.
Once again, the United States condemns the widespread abuses by Russian occupation authorities in Crimea and Russia’s forces in eastern Ukraine. We thank the Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine for its continued work and reporting, and we also thank the government of Ukraine for its continued close cooperation with this mechanism.
The United States was deeply troubled by the September convictions of Ilmi Umerov and Akhtem Chiygoz, Deputy Chairmen of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis. While they were later released, their baseless prosecution was emblematic of Russia’s campaign to terrorize the Crimean Tatar community into ending their opposition to Moscow’s occupation and purported annexation. There are still at least 48 Crimean Tatars reportedly being held on fabricated pretexts in Crimea.
We call on Russia to release all such individuals, and cease other forms of harassment of the Crimean Tatar community, including intimidating raids on Crimean Tatar homes, schools, and mosques, bans on their peaceful gatherings and celebrations, and the criminalization of their self-governing body, the Mejlis. We also call on Russian occupation authorities to end the campaign of pressure on Ukrainian activists and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Kyiv Patriarchate.
We were disturbed by the announcement in November that occupation authorities would be using for their own purposes the seized premises of the Cathedral of Volodymyr and Olga, the main Cathedral of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under the Kyiv Patriarchate in Simferopol. The church and its property were seized in a violent August raid, during which the archbishop was assaulted. Russia should return the property to the church.
We are deeply concerned about civilians in detention in the areas of eastern Ukraine outside of government control, whose number likely exceed 130, and include a number of high-profile cases of individuals apparently arrested in retaliation for the exercise of their rights. We are troubled by recent significant sentences handed down to individuals peacefully protesting against the actions of Russia’s forces, including 17 and 13 year sentences handed to teenage football fans Vladyslav Ovcharenko and Artem Akhmerov, 10 years to college professor Valery Nedosekin, and 14 years to blogger Eduard Nedelyaev. We call on Russia to release these men as well as all others detained for their peaceful opposition to Russian aggression in the Donbas.
The United States will continue to stand with the Ukrainian people.