Thank you, Mr. Chair.
The United States would like to offer this general statement.
It has been more than four years since Russia’s occupation and purported annexation of the Ukrainian territory of Crimea. The United States, along with the vast majority of UN member states, does not recognize Russia’s purported annexation of Crimea. Unfortunately, over these four years of Russian occupation, the human rights situation in Crimea has continued to deteriorate.
Russian occupation authorities use force and intimidation to suppress dissent and opposition to their occupation. Their tactics reportedly have included extrajudicial killings, kidnappings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, physical abuse, torture, and deportation. Russian authorities continue to deny UN monitors and other international organizations access to the region.
Even without access to Crimea, the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has documented dozens of cases of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and torture that have taken place since the occupation began, as well as total impunity for these abuses.
Russia’s occupation has severely violated the fundamental freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly of Crimean citizens. Nearly all independent media and civil society have had to flee the peninsula, and those that remain operate at great risk to their safety and liberty. Individuals cannot publicly criticize the Russian occupation without fear of reprisal. Numerous Crimean dissidents, such as Oleh Sentsov, Oleksander Kolchenko, and Volydymyr Balukh are already serving significant prison terms in Crimea or in Russia. Mr. Sentsov and Mr. Balukh both conducted lengthy hunger strikes during the year and their lives remain very much at risk.
Individuals from religious and ethnic minorities, particularly, the Crimean Tatar community, live in an atmosphere of fear. Russian occupation authorities frequently raid Crimean Tatar homes, mosques, and schools, have criminalized the display of Ukrainian flags and symbols as so-called “extremist” activity, and have banned certain religious literature.
Mr. Chair, these are just some of the reasons why we strongly support continued UN efforts to scrutinize the situation in Crimea. We believe that the deteriorating situation there requires continued scrutiny at the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly through the draft resolution on Crimea.