Statement by the Human Rights Center
On 27-28 March the Crimea saw the biggest wave of arrests of Crimean Tatars since the beginning of the occupation of the peninsula.
After a number of searches had been conducted, those detained were: Shaban Umerov, Remzi Bakirov, Riza Izetov, Farid Bazarov, Ruslan Suleimanov, Rustem Seitkhalilov, Dzhemil Gafarov, Seiran Murtaza, Alim Karimov, Tofik Abdulgaziev, Bilyal Adilov, Medzhit Abdurakhmanov, Rustem Sheikhaliev, Seitveli Seitabdiev, Yashar Muedinov, Izev Abdullaev, Asan Yanikov, Enver Ametov, Akim Bekirov, Erfan Osman, Servet Gaziev, Osman Arifmambetov, Vladlen Abdulkadyrov and Edem Yayachikov. Later, all 24 were remanded in custody on suspicion of having taken part in the organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir and organising its activity.
Memorial Human Rights Centre has repeatedly stated its view that there is no justification for Hizb ut-Tahrir to be designated a terrorist organisation. Russia is the only country in the world that has classified Hizb ut-Tahrir in this manner. Moreover, none of criminal cases known to us on the territory of Russia and Crimea, in the course of which more than 250 Muslims have been deprived of liberty, has provided any evidence of terrorism, or of the preparation, planning or even discussion of such acts, or of the use of, or plans to use, weapons or explosives.
The injustice and unlawfulness of the prosecution of Muslims, charged with participation in Hizb ut-Tahrir, is aggravated by the fact that in Crimea under Ukrainian law Hizb ut-Tahrir operated legally. Both the criminal prosecutions and the transfer outside Crimea of residents deprived of their freedom violate the norms of international humanitarian law and, for this reason, are particularly unacceptable. In the case in question, these norms have been violated especially blatantly: the majority, if not all, of those detained have already been transported outside Crimea.
But even against the background of constant repressive measures against participants in Hizb ut-Tahrir in Crimea, these detentions stand out. And this is not only in terms of the large numbers involved. A considerable proportion of those who now find themselves at the mercy of the Russian law enforcement agencies are linked on this occasion, in one way or another, with Crimean Solidarity, a civil society association that essentially works to promote human rights and supports the victims of repression. They are the people, now themselves behind bars, who have publicized the situations of the victims of repression, organised the delivery of care packages to prisoners and help to their families, and have regularly observed trials in politically-motivated cases. We do not know whether the detainees had any connection with Hizb ut-Tahrir, but in this situation it seems highly probable that this convenient, and already habitual, charge has become an instrument for the suppression of civic solidarity and civil society activity among residents of Crimea, above all among Crimean Tatars.
Memorial Human Rights Centre demands the immediate release of the 24 residents of Crimea, and calls on Russian civil society and the international community to increase pressure on the Russian authorities, urging their release.
Memorial Human Rights Centre