Ukrainian Ambassador Conveyed the Message of Emil Kurbedinov to the Council of Europe
Statement by the Permanent Representative of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba at the 1282nd meeting of the Committee of Ministers on 22 March 2017
Ukraine aligned itself with the statement by the European Union. We sincerely thank EU member-states, High Representative Mogherini and all countries that also aligned with the statement for their unwavering support of Europe based on the rule of law, democracy and human rights.
I had taken numerous opportunities to convey to this Committee the position of my government on the situation in the Russia-occupied Crimea, and I was going to follow this practice at this meeting. However, last week I had an honor to meet a man of extraordinary commitment to the values the Council of Europe stands for. He asked me to convey a message to the Committee of Ministers, and I decided to do it today.
“My name is Emil Kurbedinov and I am a lawyer in Crimea. I address you with a message, supported by my colleagues and civil activists who care for the destiny of Crimea and the Crimean Tatar people. We are a small indigenous people of Crimea and we are not afraid of opposing the escalating aggression and unjust governance.
We oppose it by peaceful means only in a struggle for our rights and freedoms. Standing shoulder to shoulder with Ukrainian activists, we demonstrate to the entire world our resilience and firmness on the way to justice and dignity.
Over the past three years, we saw what had come together with the state currently present in Crimea – abductions, murders, unfair trials, searches, mass arrests, intimidation, torture, and psychiatric hospitals.
We saw this, we felt this and we shared this pain, but they neither broke us down nor made us bow our heads.
We have chosen peaceful struggle for our freedom and rights, and even if we remain alone one day, we will not get out of this way. We made our choice and every one of us understands the threats our choice might bring to our families and us.
I hope that everyone who will hear this message will choose to stand by us and help us. We have chosen a way of peaceful struggle until we prevail, and you are most welcome share the victory with us!”
This was the message by Emil Kurbedinov, a human rights lawyer in Crimea. Since the illegal occupation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, he has been actively involved in defending Crimean Tatars, civil society activists and journalists.
On 26 January 2017, the district court of Simferopol found him guilty of “propagandizing for extremist organizations” and sentenced to ten days’ detention. It was a clear act of pressure and intimidation against a human rights defender.
Emil has no illusions about Russia’s potential reaction to his message but he bravely takes the risk for the sake of the good cause which is defending human rights in Crimea.
I thank you, Madame Chairperson.