April 25, within the framework of the 16th session of the UN Permanent Forum on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a side event was organized by the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people with the support of Ukraine's permanent mission to the UN General Assembly for international missions of various countries.

The side event was moderated by the representative of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people in the UN, member of the Executive Committee of the World Congress of Crimean Tatars Ayla Bakkalli.

Side event was opened by the Head of the Ukrainian mission to the United Nations Vladimir Yelchenko, and the main speakers were the members of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people Gayana Yuksel and Eskender Bariev.

The purpose of the event was to inform the representatives of the international community and official missions of various countries in the UN about the state of affairs in the Crimea and the continuing violation of the rights of the Crimean Tatar people, as well as to tell about what the occupation really was.

The specified issues were especially acute in the framework of the UN forum, where representatives of various countries are considering the problems of indigenous peoples' rights. Since the majority of delegations representatives at the 16th session spoke about the development of education, health care, the problem of equitable use of natural resources and lands belonging to indigenous peoples, which are the most important in their regions now, but the main issue for the Crimean Tatars in the current realities, is survival in conditions of occupation.

Holding of this event at the permanent forum was a complex and all-encompassing task for the Crimean Tatar delegation, since the forum was intended not only for representatives of the expert community and international missions, who knew well what the ethnic oppression is.

A 14-minute film, produced by Ayla Bakkalli, Gayana Yuksel and staff of the QHA news agency, was shown during the side event. The film described how the Russian Federation was seizing the Crimea, and what was the reaction to these events in the world. The film also stressed the importance of the UN declarations on the situation in Ukraine and the Crimea, and the latest interim decision of the International Court of Justice in the Hague. Of course, the main component of the film was the tragic consequences of the three-year occupation of the Crimea by Russian Federation.

Following the speech of the Head of the Ukrainian delegation to the UN Vladimir Yelchenko, who opened the side event, the floor was given to the side event moderator Ayla Bakkalli, who spoke about the purpose of the event, the situation in the Crimea and the importance of respecting the rights of the indigenous people.

Member of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people Gayana Yuksel told the participants what the seizure of Crimea was like and what are the results of the three-year occupation of the peninsula are now: Criminal cases, arrests, verdicts, pressure on the indigenous people.

Then, the floor was given to representatives of international missions and delegations from the European Union, Canada, Poland, Lithuania, Estonia and Turkey. All of them once again expressed their support to Ukraine and the Crimean Tatars.

Next, the floor was given to the representative of the international organization Freedom House Mark Behrichtit and later to the Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch for Europe and Central Asia Rachel Danber, who noted that the events in the Crimea is a direct result of human rights violations. During the side event, diplomats were interested in how the decisions of International Courts help the Crimean Tatars, what opportunities are now available to obtain information in the occupied Crimea and how information is being received from the occupied territory.

Vladimir Elchenko, Alya Bakkalli and Gayana Yuksel answered the questions of the participants. It should be noted that when the audience was given the opportunity to ask questions, a member of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people Gayana Yuksel answered in her native Crimean Tatar language:

“This is my principled position. I would like to speak my native language here at the indigenous peoples' forum, I ask my colleague, the young representative of the Crimean Tatar diaspora of Turkey Kurti Shagin to assist in translation.”

Member of the Mejlis Eskender Bariev closed up the side-event, summing up the situation. He voiced the requirements that the Crimean Tatars put forward to the invading country.

PHOTO: Gayana Yuksel