"We condemned the detention of the deputy head of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis (national assembly). We understand that he faces up to 10 years in prison. Clearly, this is excessive," U.N. Human Rights spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said at a press conference in the U.N. headquarters in Geneva.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said in a statement that "There are worrying developments in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, in particular, with regards to multiple violations of the rights of Crimean Tatars."
Last week, the deputy head of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis, Ahtem Ciygoz, was detained and the premises of ATR, the only television channel broadcasting in the Crimean Tatar language, was raided by armed, masked men in unmarked military clothing.
Ciygoz was taken into custody Thursday on suspicion of organizing "mass disorder" in front of Crimea's parliament in Simferopol city on Feb. 26, 2014, when Crimean Tatars and other pro-Ukrainian activists clashed with pro-Russian activists.
- More than 20,000 people displaced
"More than 20,000 people have been internally displaced from Crimea to mainland Ukraine since the March 'referendum,' which followed the takeover of the peninsula by so-called self-defense forces almost a year ago. Subsequently, Russian legislation and citizenship were introduced in Crimea," al-Hussein said.
Since Russia annexed Crimea in March 2014, Crimean Tatars have reportedly faced discrimination and pressure for their opposition to the annexation.