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CrimeaSOS: Russian Occupying Authorities of Crimea Torture Relatives of Victims of Forced Disappearances in Crimea 

25 / 06 / 2021

 This time our demonstration was titled “Torture With Time.” It was dedicated to the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture because many of the victims of forced disappearances did suffer tortures. 

We dedicated the demonstration “Torture With Time” to relatives of those kidnapped in Crimea and whose fate remains unknown. For many years those relatives suffer from a lack of information. They quite literally are being tortured with time. 

“For seven years, relatives live in uncertainty. They do not know if their loved ones are alive. If they are alive, it is not clear what is their health condition, where they are being kept, how they are being treated, etc. The occupying authorities do not conduct any investigation. They rather imitate it. There were many witnesses of those kidnappings, but those witnesses are silent because they are afraid to follow the path of the victims,” – said Ievgenii Iaroshenko, analyst of NGO CrimeaSOS. 

Mr. Iaroshenko also reminded about the behavior of the occupying authorities of Crimea after the Crimean Tatar activist Ervin Ibrahimov had been kidnapped in Bakhchisaray in 2016. 

“A month after the kidnapping, the so-called ‘prosecutor’ of Crimea Natalia Poklonskaia claimed that some unnamed people saw Ibrahimov alive, but she did not mention any details. This kind of situation says that the occupying administration of Crimea covers up the passiveness of the Russian police. Most likely, this is due to the certain level of involvement of representatives of occupying administration in the forced disappearances,” – said Ievgenii Iaroshenko. 

During the demonstration, NGO CrimeaSOS organized a small performance. We attached sheets of paper to the backs of our activists. Those sheets had words written on them: “waiting,” “lack of information,” “indifference,” “silence,” “despair,” “fear,” “anger.” Those are the feelings that give pain to relatives of people who had been kidnapped in Crimea. After a while, we replaced those words with “reconciliation with loved ones,” “laughter of family members,” “happiness,” “love,” “support,” “hope.” Those are emotions that can heal emotional wounds that appear as a result of torture with time. 

 

With our performance, we would like to show that we need to cultivate support and hope that all victims of forced disappearances will be found alive in Crimea earlier or later. 

We believe that for these positive emotions to thrive and become real, the Ukrainian society, state institutions, and the international community need to pay more attention to the problem of forced disappearances in Crimea. 

“We need to build infrastructure that will help us find victims of forced disappearances. Our legislation still does not enable any mechanisms of search of those who disappeared in Crimea. We need to change the Criminal Code of Ukraine to make the responsibility for kidnapping more adequate to the gravity of the crime. Because right now, the punishment is between 5 to 7 years in prison for a bureaucrat who participated in a kidnapping. To say it mildly, this is not enough. We also need to send evidence of involvement of Russian officials to forced disappearances in Crimea to the European Court on Human Rights and the International Criminal Court,” – said Ievgenii Iaroshenko. 

As we informed earlier, since 2014, 44 people became victims of forced disappearances. Nineteen of them were found alive. Three of them were located in places of detention. One has been deported. Another six were found dead. The fate of fifteen people remains unknown. 

Those are: Timur ShaimardanovSeiran ZinedinovIsliam DzhepparovDzhevlet IsliamovEskander Apseliamov, Mukhtar Arislanov, Ruslan Haniev, Arlen Terekhov, Ervin Ibrahimov, Eskender IbraimovValerii Vashchuk, Ivan BondaretsVasyl ChernyshFedir Kostenko and Arsen Aliev. 

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