As usual in cases of this kind, the evidence of terrorism was participation of the defendants in meetings, discussions of ideological questions and persuading other Muslims to adopt their views.
In August 2016 Moscow District Military Court sentenced four residents of Chelyabinsk region, Denis Zagitdinov, Rishat Girfanov, Danil Kunakbaev and Vasily Tkachev to eight years in a general-regime prison colony for offences under Article 205.5, Section 2, of the Russian Criminal Code (participation in the activity of a terrorist organisation).
As in other criminal prosecutions of which we are aware concerning participation in Hizb ut-Tahrir, the defendants attended meetings, discussed the ideology of the organisation, and sought to persuade other Muslims to adopt their ideas. The prosecution did not have a single piece of evidence that the defendants committed or planned to commit crimes of violence or any kind of actions that, in common sense terms, could be called terrorist.
The charges are related exclusively to the participation of the defendants in the international religious organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami, an organisation designated terrorist in 2003 by decision of the Supreme Court of Russia.
The programmatic views of Hizb ut-Tahrir and texts published on the organisation’s websites are in many respects incompatible with the ideas of democracy and human rights as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international law based upon it; and the proposed structure of a future Caliphate, as proposed by Hizb ut-Tahrir, is discriminatory with regard to religion and gender. Nevertheless, in the democratic states of North America and Western Europe, with the exception of Germany, Hizb ut-Tahrir’s activities have not been banned and there have been no criminal prosecutions for membership of the organisation. The ban on the organisation in Germany concerns anti-Semitic publications and statements.
Memorial takes issue with the ruling of the Supreme Court on the designation of Hizb ut-Tahrir as a terrorist organisation. We consider there to have been no grounds for the conviction of the four Muslims in Chelyabinsk. We consider them to be political prisoners and demand their release.
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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For more information about the Chelyabinsk Hizb ut-Tahrir case, see the website of Memorial Human Rights Centre.