First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Emine Dzheppar made a relevant statement during the panel discussion “International Decade of Indigenous Languages 2022-2032” at the 21st session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Ukrinform reports with reference to Dzheppar’s Facebook account.
The deputy minister informed the meeting participants about the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine and drew attention to the blatant violations of international law, rights and freedoms of the Crimean Tatar people in the temporarily occupied territory of Crimea and Sevastopol.
“Since 2014, the Kremlin has spared no effort to deprive us of our identity, destroy our heritage, culture, traditions, native language, erase our history and, ultimately, annihilate our people,” Dzheppar said.
As the official stressed, the language is one of the elements of the Crimean Tatar culture, which the Russian invaders in Crimea constantly restrict, oppress, aiming to completely eliminate it.
According to Dzheppar, the invaders in Crimea have significantly limited the use of the Crimean Tatar language, including by reducing the opportunities for young people to get education in their native language.
The first deputy foreign minister noted that before the temporary occupation started in early 2014, there had been 384 classes in Crimean schools where children studied Crimean Tatar as a subject. This number is now less than 120.
Dzheppar also reported on the steps taken by the Government of Ukraine to support the Crimean Tatar language: returning the version of the Crimean Tatar alphabet used before 1939 (Latin) and adopting the Crimean Tatar Language Development Strategy for 2022-2032.
“And, of course, passing the landmark law on indigenous peoples, which officially recognized the Karaites, Krymchaks, and Crimean Tatars [as indigenous peoples of Ukraine], submitted by President Volodymyr Zelensky to the parliament on the eve of the Crimea Platform summit,” Dzheppar said.
She also stressed that Russia ignored the relevant decisions of the UN International Court of Justice, including the decision to lift the ban on the activity of the Mejlis. The leaders of this highest representative and executive body of the Crimean Tatars are either banned from entering Crimea or imprisoned.
“The practice of political persecution of all those who have the courage to resist the occupation of the peninsula has long been commonplace for Russia. Nariman Dzhelyal has been in prison for more than 230 days on baseless charges,” the first deputy minister said.
Dzheppar called on the international community to step up its efforts to protect the rights of indigenous peoples, condemn Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, and increase pressure on Russia to stop the armed aggression against Ukraine and liberate the temporarily occupied territories.
As reported, in April 2021, the Cabinet of Ministers approved the concept of development of the Crimean Tatar language in order to improve the legislative, institutional, financial, and informational basis for its development as a language of one of the indigenous peoples of Ukraine.