Five Muslims are being prosecuted on charges of terrorism solely for membership of a Muslim civil society organisation.
Five Muslims from Almetevsk are on trial at the Volga District Military Court in the city of Samara. They are being tried for membership of Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami, an offence under Article 205.5 of the Russian Criminal Code (‘Organisation of, or participation in, the activity of a terrorist organisation’). If convicted, they face sentences of up to life imprisonment.
However, there is no evidence that the five committed or planned to commit crimes of violence, still less acts of terrorism. The defendants held gatherings, discussed the ideology of Hizb ut-Tahrir, and promoted their beliefs among Muslims – as has been the case in dozens of prosecutions of hundreds of Muslims throughout the country.
The charges relate solely to the involvement of the defendants in Hizb ut-Tahrir al Islami, an international religious organisation designated by the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation in 2003 as terrorist. But neither in this ruling by the Supreme Court, nor in the materials of criminal cases investigated in Russia and the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States, is there any concrete evidence that the organisation was engaged in terrorism or any kind of violent activity whatsoever.
The ruling by the Supreme Court concerning the activities of Hizb ut-Tahrir contained three propositions. The first stated that the aim of the organisation was the creation of a Universal Islamic Caliphate; the second pointed to the conduct of mass Islamic propaganda; and the third referred to the ban on the organisation’s activities in Uzbekistan and several Arab countries. These propositions of themselves are insufficient grounds to designate the organisation as terrorist. We therefore consider the ruling by the Supreme Court to designate Hizb ut-Tahrir a terrorist organisation to be illegitimate. Consequently, charges of terrorism based solely on membership in Hizb ut-Tahrir are unlawful.
Memorial does not concur with the ruling of the Supreme Court to designate Hizb ut-Tahrir a terrorist organisation and, as we have repeatedly stated, we consider this ruling to be wholly unjustified.
Basing ourselves on the international Guide to the Definition of a ‘Political Prisoner,’ we declare Anas Gimazetdinov, Irek Mukhametov, Emil Shangareev, Azat Zagiev and Rinat Khannanov are political prisoners and demand their release, along with that of more than two hundred others convicted or held on remand for membership of Hizb ut-Tahrir.
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.
You can read more about this case on the website of Memorial Human Rights Centre.
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