World Bulletin / News Desk
Crimean Tatars leader Mustafa Jemilev has said that his people have become foreigners in their own homeland during an OSCE meeting in Vienna on Thursday.
Saying that Crimean Tatars were being forced to adopt Russian citizenship, Jemilev claimed that those who refused were being forced from their homes.
"There is an emerging trend to evict those Crimean Tatars out of Crimea who refuse to recognise the annexation. Crimean Tatars are being forced into a situation where they would rather leave their homeland," he said.
"We are concerned that because of Russia's recent actions, the issue of Russia's occupation of Crimea has become secondary in light of the potential threat of Russian forces invading across the eastern border of Ukraine," Jemilev added.
"We are in favour of being part of the Ukrainian nation, we reject this annexation," he saidi pleading the international community not to forget about the occupied territories of Ukraine.
70-year-old Jemilev was banned from entering Crimea for five years after the ethnic Russian Prime Minister of Crimea Sergei Aksyonov accused him of working to disrupt the peace in the breakaway Ukrainian peninsula, which was annexed by Russia following the results of a March 16 referendum.
Crimean Tatars are the native Turkic-speaking Muslim population of Crimea, who make up 13% of the population. They are largely displaced by ethnic Russians after they were exiled by former Soviet dictator Josef Stalin in 1944. After the collapse of Soviet Russia, many chose to return.
The 300,000 Crimean Tatar population largely boycotted the March 16 referendum, which they have deemed illegal and illegitimate due to it having been conducted under the threat of pro-Russian militias that occupied the region following the fall of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich's government in late February.
They have since complained that they have been victimized in Crimea, with their homes being marked by militias as well as being targeted for speaking their language in public. Jemilev warned that most officials in the Russian FSB want to exile the Crimean Tatars once again.Last Mod: 09 Mayıs 2014, 15:02