Each year the UN Forum on Minority Issues gathers together representatives of civil society, official representatives of different countries and the staff of the United Nations human rights institutions. The topic of UNs 9th Forum on Minority Issues, which took place on November 24-25, 2016 in Geneva was “Minorities in situation of humanitarian crisis”.
The report of ADC “Memorial” at the forum was devoted to the situation of the Roma minority in the zone of military conflict in eastern Ukraine, which currently suffers from a humanitarian catastrophe, political repression against representatives of the Crimean Tatar population by the Russian authorities, persecution of indigenous activists protesting against the activities of mining companies, which cause irreparable damage to the areas traditionally inhabited by indigenous peoples.
Statement of Anti-discrimination Centre Memorial
Since the military conflict of Russia and Ukraine started, the situation of Roma minority living in the conflict zone has gone disastrous. In the territories of so called Donetsk and Luhansk peoples republics, Roma faced pogroms, kidnappings, disappearances, arbitrary detentions, violence by military groups, bans to leave the war zone. Those Roma who escaped out of the unrecognized “republics” to Russia haven’t found asylum or any other status, facing no good will and assistance of Russian migration authorities; in Ukraine the displaced Roma also face discrimination and are often denied social support, as the state and charitable resources are not sufficient.
The post-war situation of Roma living in the territories now controlled by Ukraine is also difficult. Such common problems of Roma as low level of education, lack of personal documents, unemployment – aggravate their situation, and lead to the extreme poverty, marginalization and vulnerability.
The situation of Roma affected by the military conflict in Ukraine should be included into the agenda of negotiations on international level, including the United Nations. Non-discrimination of Roma should be guaranteed by all sides of the conflict. International humanitarian aid programs are also needed for the inhabitants of Eastern Ukraine and direct aid to Roma living in the post-conflict zone.
The situation of Crimean Tartars should be also mentioned in the context of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. The Medjlis of Crimean Tartar people, a self-government body who did not recognize the annexation of Crimea, was banned in Russia, leaders and activists – members of the Medjlis are repressed by the Russian state, there are arbitrary searches of their homes, arbitrary detentions, accusations in extremism and terrorism.
Very much concerning is the lack of protection for indigenous peoples in Russia in front of the policy of extracting companies who put the natural environment into disaster. Activists who protest against it are repressed, there are examples of criminal persecution of representatives of Evenki and Khanty indigenous peoples. People belonging to Shor indigenous minority living in South Siberia are forced to leave their villages, the houses of those who didn’t agree to leave were burnt without any compensation, the activists were threatened and persecuted.
Political reprisals against Crimean Tartars, pressure made upon indigenous activists should be immediately stopped; the Russian Federation should follow its own legislation on protection of indigenous peoples, as well as international obligations.