: RFE/RL: UN calls on Russia to respect Crimean Tatar rights on key anniversary

10:02 May. 18, 2016

RFE/RL: UN calls on Russia to respect Crimean Tatar rights on key anniversary

Local residents carry Ukrainian and Crimean Tatars flags in the village of Chongar, Ukraine, on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015 (AP Photo)

During Stalin's reign, starting on May 18, 1944, some 200,000 Crimean Tatars were deported

The United Nations called on Russia to respect minority rights on the May 18 anniversary of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's mass deportation of Tatars from Crimea in 1944.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Rupert Colville said the persecution of Tatars has grown during two years of Russian annexation of the peninsula, marked by the intimidation, harassment, and jailing of Tatar officials.

Read also Crimean Tatars banned from honouring 1944 deportation victims

"Since April 2014, Crimean Tatars have been subjected to arbitrary searches, seizure of books, and arrest," Rupert Colville said in a statement on May 17. "Last year, the authorities shut down a number of Crimean Tatar media outlets, and last week were reported to have also blocked Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Crimea news website."

Watch also Ukrainian singer wins 2016 competition with a song dedicated to Stalin's deportation of Crimean Tatar

Colville said Russia has "a duty to ensure the rights of minorities and indigenous peoples" and should immediately lift the ban on the Mejlis, the Tatars' legislative body.

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