Twenty-four Crimean Tatar activists are political prisoners, Memorial says.
At the end of March in Crimea there was the largest wave of arrests of Crimean Tatars and searches of their properties since the seizure of the peninsula by our country. More than two dozen civil society activists were arrested, ‘suspected’ of involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami which has been designated a terrorist organisation by the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation. The Crimean residents detained face decades of incarceration in strict regime prison colonies. All 24 have been remanded in custody, 23 of them have been transferred to Rostov region.
Memorial has repeatedly stated its belief that there are no grounds for the designation of Hizb ut-Tahrir as a terrorist organisation. Russia is the only country in the world to have taken this step. In none of the criminal cases known to us, in the course of which more than 250 Muslims have already been placed behind bars, is there any evidence of terrorism or of the preparation, or even discussion, of acts of terrorism or the use of weapons.
This time the repressive measures have been directed not simply against peaceful Muslims, or against Crimean Tatars, but against peaceful civic resistance to political repression by the Kremlin in Crimea. Individuals who have publicized the plight of the victims, organised parcels for the prisoners and assistance to their families, and regularly attended the political trials, have themselves ended up behind bars. The majority of those remanded in custody are linked with the Crimean Solidarity human rights movement that provides support to victims of persecution. In this situation, it seems highly likely that the convenient, and already usual, charge of involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir has been merely a pretext and instrument for suppressing civic solidarity and civil society activity among Crimean Tatars.
Memorial Human Rights Centre, in accordance with the international Guidelines on definition of the term ‘Political Prisoner,’ recognises Ruslan Suleimanov, Alim Kerimov, Rustem Sheikhaliev, Medzhit Abdurakhmanov, Yashar Muedinov, Bilyal Adilov, Dzhemil Gafarov, Riza Izetov, Izzeta Abdullaev, Asana Yanikov, Shaban Umerov, Medzhita Abdurakhmanov, Tofik Abdulgaziev, Seitveli Seitnabdiev, Rustem Seitkhalilov, Akim Bekirov, Farkhod Bazarov, Server Gaziev, Seiran Murtaz, Erfan Osmanov, Osman Arifmemetov, Remzi Bekirov, Vladlen Abdulkadyrov and Raim Aivazov as political prisoners.
We demand their immediate release and the dropping of criminal charges against them.
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.
More information is available on our website.
You can donate to the civic initiative ‘Bizim Balalar,’ that assists the children of Crimean Tatars who have been remanded in custody on politically motivated charges, via the bank card of the Russian National Commercial Bank [РНКБ] № 2200 0202 0883 9409 in the name of Kurtbedinova, Sevil Sevrievna [Куртбединова, Севиль Зевриевна].