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HRW Denounces 'Intensifying Persecution' Of Crimean Tatars In Crimea

Released Crimean Tatar Leader: 'I'd Rather Accept Death' Than Kneel
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WATCH: Released Crimean Tatar Leader: 'I'd Rather Accept Death' Than Kneel

Human Rights Watch (HRW) says authorities in Russian-occupied Crimea have "intensified persecution" of Crimean Tatars for their opposition to Russia's annexation of the Ukrainian region in 2014.

In a report released on November 14, the New York-based rights group said that "Russian authorities and their proxies have subjected members of the Crimean Tatar community and their supporters, including journalists, bloggers, activists, and others to harassment, intimidation, threats, intrusive and unlawful searches of their homes, physical attacks, and enforced disappearances."

The report said that complaints lodged with Russian-imposed authorities are "not investigated effectively."

It added that Crimean Tatar media and organizations that criticized Russia’s actions in Crimea have been banned -- including the Mejlis, the Crimean Tatar self-governing body.

"Russian authorities in Crimea have relentlessly persecuted Crimean Tatars for their vocal opposition to Russia's occupation since it began in 2014," said Hugh Williamson, HRW's Europe and Central Asia director. "They have portrayed politically active Crimean Tatars as extremists and terrorists, forced many into exile, and ensured that those who choose to stay never feel safe to speak their mind."

Rights groups and Western governments have denounced what they called a persistent campaign of oppression targeting members of the indigenous Turkic-speaking Crimean Tatar minority and other citizens who opposed Moscow's annexation of the Black Sea peninsula from Ukraine in March 2014

The majority of Crimean Tatars opposed the Russian takeover of their historic homeland.

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