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Missing Crimean Tatar Man Is Dead, Sister Says

Edem Asanov went missing on September 29.
Edem Asanov went missing on September 29.

A Crimean Tatar man who went missing late last month on the annexed peninsula has been found dead, his sister said.

Edem Asanov's sister, Feride, told RFE/RL on October 6 that Asanov's body was in a morgue in the Crimean city of Yevpatoria and that he would be buried on October 7 in the town of Saky.

Asanov's sister provided no further details.

Asanov, 25, is one of many Crimean Tatars who have been reported missing in Crimea in recent months.

Community members say pressure on Tatars is part of what they call a campaign of harassment and intimidation against the Turkic-speaking Muslim minority group, most of whose members opposed Russia's annexation of the Black Sea peninsula from Ukraine in March.

In Focus: Crimean Tatars Complain Of Harassment

Crimean authorities have made no official comment about Asanov since he went missing on September 29.

Asanov disappeared the day when hundreds of Crimean Tatars protested in the town of Bilohirsk against the disappearances of two other Tatars: 20-year-old Dzhevdet Islamov and 17-year-old Islam Dzhepparov, who were reportedly forced into a vehicle by unknown individuals in military uniform and taken away on September 27.

The protests prompted Crimea's Moscow-backed acting leader, Sergei Aksyonov, to meet Dzhepparov's father, Abdureshit, a well-known activist, on September 29 and promise him to search for his son and the other young Tatar man.

The disappearances began in March when activist Reshat Ametov was pushed into a car while picketing a local government building in protest at the takeover of the peninsula by Russian troops.

Two weeks later, his body was found with traces of torture.

On October 1, talking at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg, the veteran leader of the Crimean Tatar community, Mustafa Dzhemilev, said that at least 18 Tatars had disappeared after the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March.

The Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights, Nils Muiznieks, said at the PACE session that security for Crimean Tatars "has been shattered by a series of raids by armed, masked security personnel in religious institutions, schools, Tatar-owned businesses, private homes," and the community’s assembly, the Mejlis.

Crimean Tatars are native to the Black Sea peninsula but were deported by Stalin to Central Asia in 1944. They started returning back to Crimea in the late 1980s and now make up more than 12.5 percent of Crimea's population of 2.5 million.

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