[Witness spoke in Russian, interpreted as follows:]
Members of the committee, it is a great honour to be here today and to have the opportunity to testify about what's going on in occupied Crimea.
We came here because of the 75th anniversary of the genocide of the Crimean Tatar people. Today or tomorrow, I believe Parliament will hear a statement by Mr. Wrzesnewskyj, recognizing the deportation and genocide of the Crimean Tatar people. This is a very welcome event for us.
We will also participate in the raising of the Crimean Tatar flag to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the deportation. This is a huge gesture of support for us.
My name is Mustafa Dzhemilev. For 23 years, I have led the parliament of the indigenous Crimean Tatar people. Shortly before the occupation in 2013, I resigned because of my age, but I remain a member of the Ukrainian parliament. I have been a member of parliament for 20 years now.
On April 14, 2014, I was banned from entering Crimea because of some danger to the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation, but I think the real reason was that I did not recognize the occupation.
Nevertheless, we have a lot of detailed information on everything that goes on in Crimea. The Crimean Tatar Mejlis has been banned from the territory of the Russian Federation. Nevertheless, it continues its activities, even though it is facing great difficulties.
There are many acts of lawlessness perpetrated by the occupying state. What can be done to protect the local population from the activities of the occupying government? It's a question that is impossible to answer. I do not believe that anything can be done until the territory is freed from the occupiers.
No international organizations are allowed access. There is a lot of Russian propaganda. The Russians are disseminating lies about how happy the people are while living under the Russian occupation regime.
What is of most concern to us is that the Russian occupying government is now expelling indigenous Crimean Tatar people out of Crimea and bringing in citizens of the Russian Federation to take their place. This is similar to what Russia did in 1783 during the first time it occupied the peninsula, when 90% of the people who were living there were Crimean Tatars. By the time of the revolution of 1917, we were a minority on our land. In 1944, there was a total deportation and genocide, and for half a century we have fought to be able to come back to our homeland.
The situation is dramatic and has become exacerbated, because we fought for 40 years to come back to our homeland, and yet again we are forced to leave it. We have fought for so many years against the totalitarian regime, and now we are again facing a regime that's even worse than the Soviet regime.
We are grateful to every country that is lending support to our country in these difficult days. Unfortunately, the support is not sufficient. We did not expect the occupation to last as long as it has. It's the fifth year of the occupation, and we want stronger sanctions against the occupying country.
Here with me is the deputy chief of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, Akhtem Chiygoz. He spent three years in a Russian prison for defending the integrity of his country. He was freed at the end of 2017, thanks to interventions by Turkish President Erdogan .
Russian propaganda said that this was an act of great humanity by Putin, but later we discovered that in exchange for the freedom of Akhtem Chyigoz, Putin obtained the freedom of two Russian assassins from Turkey. That was his sole motivation.
We are also working with the Turkish Prime Minister right now to help with freeing political prisoners, but we have been unsuccessful so far. Approximately 85 persons right now are in jail, and the number is growing. There are searches every day in the houses of Crimean Tatar people. It's a very routine thing now, and people are not even registering them anymore.
I would be happy to answer any questions you have about the situation in Crimea.