Childhood is a time of brightest memories, which you remember for the rest of your life.
The childhoods of many Crimean children were cut short on the day when the representatives of Russian occupational forces broke into their homes in the early morning. Ever since that day, neither women nor children feel safe. Their usual ways of living fell apart in that one moment.
Over the 7 years of occupation, the Russian authorities have committed large-scale persecution of native Crimeans. Special repressions were directed at Crimean Tatars – a historically disloyal group, who openly stated their non-recognition of the occupation of Crimea on February 26, 2014 and held a mass protest against the occupation.
To reinforce their power on the peninsula, occupants recourse to arrests, forced searches in houses and mosques, as well as interrogations of residents. Over the past few years, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSS) and The Center "E" have opened about a hundred criminal and administrative cases against Crimean Tatars. Many of the defendants in these cases are relatives.
As of today, 200 underage children are now left without their fathers. In some villages, where there are compact groups of Crimean Tatars, the neighborhoods have turned into entire “women’s streets” after the arrests. Many children need long psychological rehabilitation. In the home of one political prisoner, FSS officers tried to make a joke: “We are making a movie, boy. Don’t worry!". After that “movie” was “filmed” in October of 2017, his father has yet to return home.
Any religious beliefs, not sanctioned by the Russian occupation administration, are criminalized in Crimea. Since 2014, 74 people have already been arrested for reading “forbidden” books and accused of terrorism within the fabricated “Hizb ut-Tahrir cases”. All of them are recognized as political prisoners by a coalition of Ukrainian human rights NGOs that protect the rights of the Ukrainian citizens, who suffered from the Russian military aggression against Ukraine.
All detainees are facing huge sentences of 15 to 20 years of imprisonment in a strict-regime colony. All of them are denied their freedom without the body of crime and in violation of international law. All of them became hostages in their own land, occupied and militarized by the Russian military forces.
Among those arrested in the criminal cases of Hizb ut-Tahrir, more than 10 people are civil journalists who filmed searches and court sessions in Crimea, human rights advocates, volunteers and activists who helped families of political prisoners by collecting food and clothes in pre-trial detention centers.
Cases of harassment by the Russian military troops have spread throughout Crimean Tatar society and their consequences will remain felt by Crimeans for a long time to come.