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By Mubeyyin B. Altan

The news about the commitment of Ilmi Umerov, former Governor of Bahçesaray and deputy chairman of Crimean Tatar Mejlis, to psychiatric treatment is one of the saddest news I heard in my half a century long involvement as the advocate of Crimean Tatar Human Rights. It is sad, indeed, the scandalous way this courageous man was dragged into custody for interrogation by FSB (Russian Security Forces) and forced to accept psychiatric treatment received very little attention. ilmi Umerov selected to fight peacefully against injustice despite all his physical illnesses, he could have easily kept quiet and enjoy a peaceful life with his family.

Ilmi Umerov is not mentally ill, and there is nothing mentally wrong with this courageous man who had dedicated his life to fight for his people's human and national rights. Just as the Soviet authorities decades ago tried to declare General Pyotr G. Grigorenko mentally ill for defending Crimean Tatars, the Putin government and its surrogates following the footsteps of their Soviet predecessors, are applying the same tactics on Ilmi Umerov. By committing a totally normal politically active human rights' defender to a mental institution, the authorities think they will pressure Crimean Tatars to accept their illegal annexation of Crimea. It has not worked before, and it will not work now.

As a true friend of Crimean Tatar people, the fearless Ukrainian General Pyotr G. Grigorenko had elevated the plight of the Crimean Tatars to higher international platform. He was supported by prominent human rights advocates within the Soviet Union as well as in the west. His case, which had received world wide attention, was investigated and written in international journals. Yet he still had to spend several years of his life in a Soviet mental institution. Thanks to international awareness and pressure, General Grigorenko was finally allowed to visit his son Andrei in the United States where he remained rest of his life.

Since the Russian Anschluss of Crimea on February 27, 2014, the Putin Government and its surrogates have launched a Soviet style oppressive policy to punish Crimean Tatars, as seen in cases of Ilmi Umerov, Axtem Çiygoz, Ali Asanov, Mustafa Degirmenci, Emirusein Kuku and others. Like General Pyotr G. Grigorenko, Ilmi Umerov is mentally fit to fight against the Russian oppression and injustice. Yes, he does suffer from hypertension, a heart problem and Parkinson's disease, but not from mental illness. The Russian authorities are well known to use their own version of diagnosis for people they do not agree with, the diagnosis called "political psychosis (author's words)". Unfortunately, Ukraine, Turkey, the western world, the Turkic-Islamic world are watching this ongoing tragedy with no significant action to confront the Putin government and his surrogates in Crimea.

Pyotr G. Grigorenko had many influential supporters to pressure the Soviet Government to free him. Whom does Ilmi Umerov have, except his family and few friends to help him during these critical times?

I can not help but ask: Who will save our brother Ilmi Umerov?

Mubeyyin B. Altan
August 22, 2016

Posted to ICC Web site: 3 September 2016

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