(Berlin) – A Crimean Tatar activist has been involuntarily confined since August 18, 2016, in a psychiatric hospital, Human Rights Watch said today. The de-facto Russian authorities of Crimea should release the activist, Ilmi Umerov, drop criminal separatism charges against him, and ensure that he receives the medical care he requires.
Umerov, 59, is a former head of the Bakhchisaray district administration in Crimea and a former deputy chairman of Mejlis, the Crimean Tatars’ elected representative body. Since Russian forces occupied Crimea in February 2014, Umerov has been an outspoken critic of the occupation and the Russian administration’s persecution of Crimean Tatars, an ethnic minority who openly opposed Russia’s occupation of Crimea, a part of Ukraine. The Supreme Court of Crimea in April 2016 declared Mejlis an extremist organization, and Crimean Tatar activists appealed the decision.
“Umerov’s forced psychiatric confinement is an egregious violation of his rights,” said Tanya Cooper, Ukraine researcher at Human Rights Watch. “It’s also a shameful attempt to use psychiatry to silence him and tarnish his reputation, a popular practice against dissidents in the Soviet Union.”