Following is a comment on the anniversary of the Soviet deportation of Crimean Tatars that was released on May 18 by the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine. It is attributed to U.S. Embassy spokesperson Jonathan Lalley.
We join the Crimean Tatars and all the people of Ukraine in commemorating the solemn anniversary of the forcible deportation of more than 230,000 Tatars from their Crimean homeland in 1944.
Today, Crimean Tatars continue to face repression and discrimination under Russian occupation in Crimea. Almost 10,000 Crimean Tatars have been forced to flee the peninsula since the Russian occupation began in 2014. Those who remain have been subjected to abuses, including abusive interrogations, beatings, arbitrary detentions, and police raids on their homes and mosques. This brutality and mistreatment must end.
We are particularly concerned by the recent arrest of Deputy Head of Crimean Tatar Mejlis Ilmi Umerov. We call on the Russian Federation to reverse the decision to designate the Mejlis as an “extremist” organization and the decision by de facto authorities in Crimea to suspend this democratic institution.
We condemn Russia’s occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea, which we do not recognize, and call for an end to Russia’s occupation. We have been very clear with Russia that our Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Moscow returns control over Crimea to Ukraine.
We also reaffirm our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and our deep support for the rights of all the people of Ukraine, including those in Crimea.