Poland will continue to demand abidance to human rights in Crimea: FM

Despite appeals from the international community, “Russia continues to occupy Crimea” severely violating international law and human rights, FM Zbigniew Rau said on Tuesday, adding that Poland would continue to demand abidance to the human rights of people living on the territory of Crimea.

Mr Rau’s statement came during a discussion panel on the situation of human rights in the Russia-occupied Crimean Peninsula, a discussion held on the sidelines of the 46th session of the Council of Human Rights. The panel was organised by Ukrainian FM Dmytro Kuleba.

The Polish FM also highlighted how Russia was putting pressure on ethnic and religious minorities inhabiting Crimea. He also mentioned repression against human rights organisations.

Mr Rau also said that Poland was engaged in the protection of the freedom of religion and conviction. He has also mentioned the continued worsening of the situation for religious minorities in Crimea.

The Polish official mentioned the compulsory drafting of Ukrainians into the Russian military. “I hope that the ‘Crimean Platform’ initiative proposed by Ukraine will turn out an efficient instrument for the protection of human rights in Crimea,” he said.

The Polish FM said that Poland continued to support Ukraine’s independence and territorial integrity respecting the borders recognised by the international community. He also reassured that Poland would continue to demand that the human rights “of each person inhabiting the occupied territory of Crimea” be respected. The Crimean Peninsula forms part of the territory of Ukraine and was annexed by Russia in March 2014 as a result of military aggression and a referendum that was deemed by the authorities of Ukraine and the West as illegal.

The Crimean Tatars, who constitute 12-15 percent of Crimea’s population, boycotted the referendum. Russia banned the Crimean Tatar self-government whose leaders were forced to leave the Peninsula. The Tatars continue to be discriminated against by Russian authorities, expelled from their lands, their houses are searched and activists kidnapped.