I am very concerned about today’s court decision in Crimea to ban the Mejlis by declaring it to be an extremist organisation. As the highest representative body of the Crimean Tatars, the Mejlis is indissociable from their aspirations to reestablish themselves in the peninsula after decades of exile during the Soviet era.
Concerns have also been expressed that a very wide range of persons associated with mejlis structures at the local level could be exposed to possible criminal prosecution, as the local mejlis bodies would themselves fall within the ambit of the ban.
The Mejlis is an important traditional and social structure of the Crimean Tatar people. Equating it with extremism paves the way for stigmatisation and discrimination of a significant part of the Crimean Tatar community and sends a negative message to that community as a whole.
I strongly urge a reversal of this ban in the interests of human rights protection and social cohesion on the peninsula.