Memorial considers Shakir Kozhamkulov, Islambek Kamchybekov, Uulu Kanybek Suiunduk, Bekzod Bakirov, Gazyek Kubatov, Akhmet Dzhumaev, Zufar Mustafin and Airat Usmanov to be political prisoners and demands their release.
These eight Muslims were found guilty under Article 282.2 of the Russian Criminal Code (organisation and participation in an extremist organisation) and sentenced at Babushkinsky district court in Moscow to terms in prison colonies of between four years and six years six months in September 2018.
The charges related exclusively to the involvement of the defendants in the international Islamic missionary movement Tablighi Jamaat, designated as extremist by the Russian Supreme Court in 2009.
We disagree with this decision of the Supreme Court. There is no evidence that this community, active, in the main, in India and Pakistan, is complicit in acts of terrorism or the propaganda of violence. In the democratic countries of Western Europe and North America Tablighi Jamaat has not been banned.
The defendants have been sentenced to terms in prison colonies, as in other analogous cases, for organising a meeting in a Moscow apartment at which ‘they carried out ideological indoctrination of new supporters’ and studied the literature of Tablighi Jamaat. There was no question of any activity dangerous to the public.
In our view, the convictions in this case, handed down exclusively on the grounds of the defendants’ involvement in the Tablighi Jamaat movement, are discriminatory and in violation of international law.
The decision of the Supreme Court to designate the organisation as extremist and ban it in Russia has no foundation in law and contravenes Article 28 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation that guarantees freedom of conscience and confession.
It is evident that in the prosecutions in the Tablighi Jamaat cases, as in the Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami cases, we see the FSB adopting a particular generic approach to achieve ‘high results’ (dozens of convictions) with minimal effort. The increasing severity and arbitrary application of anti-terrorism legislation has created the potential for a very large number of prosecutions for which there are no grounds in law whatsoever. We demand that this imitation of a struggle against extremism be ended and that Shakir Kozhamkulov, Islambek Kamchybekov, Uulu Kanybek Suiunduk, Bekzod Bakirov, Gazyek Kubatov, Akhmet Dzhumaev, Zufar Mustafin and Airat Usmanov be released.
Recognition of an individual as a political prisoner, or of a prosecution as politically motivated, does not imply that Memorial Human Rights Centre shares or approves the individual’s views, statements or actions.
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