Six Muslims, prosecuted on charges of involvement with Hizb ut-Tahrir in Crimea, are political prisoners, Memorial says

19.06.2020

The six Muslims have been imprisoned on terrorist charges without being accused of terrorism

Memorial Human Rights Centre believes Crimean Tatars Akramzhon Abdullayev, Aider Dzhapparov, Nematzhon Isroilov, Riza Omerov, Enver Omerov and Enver Seitosmanov have been prosecuted for political reasons for the non-violent exercise of their rights to freedom of conscience, religion and association. They were imprisoned to stop their civil society activity and criticism of the authorities. According to international criteria, they are political prisoners. We demand their immediate release.

  • Detention and trials

Two citizens of Kyrgyzstan who lived in Sevastopol — Akramzhon Abdullayev and Nematzhon Isroilov — were detained in the summer of 2016. In the autumn of 2018, a military court sentenced them to 15 and 13 years in a strict regime prison colony, respectively.

Another resident of Sevastopol, Enver Seitosmanov, who was an activist of the Crimean Tatar national movement, was detained by the FSB in the spring of 2018. In December 2019, the Southern District Military Court sentenced him to 17 years in a strict regime prison colony.

Three Crimean Tatars from Belogorsk district — Aider Dzhapparov, Enver Omerov and his son Riza — were remanded in custody last summer. Their case is now in court.

  • FSB: membership in Hizb ut-Tahrir is terrorist activity

Akramzhon Abdullayev and Nematzhon Isroilov, according to the FSB, were, since 2000, members of the international organization Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami (‘Islamic Liberation Party’; in Russia designated as a terrorist organisation and banned). They arrived in Sevastopol in 2013–2014 ‘under the guise of migrant workers.’ They ‘sought out’ a number of Muslims and ‘under the guise of studying traditional Islam’ held meetings in which they promoted the ideas of this party. In so doing, according to the court judgment, they committed offences under Article 205.5 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (organization of the activities of a terrorist organization and participation in it).

Enver Seitosmanov, according to the investigation, joined another cell of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Sevastopol in the autumn of 2014. ‘As the deputy head of this cell, Seitosmanov organized its activities and carried out propaganda work among the public,’ thereby committing, as the judgment reads, an offence under Part 1 of Article 205.5 of the Criminal Code (organization of the activities of a terrorist organization).

Enver Omerov, whom the FSB considers a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir, no later than February 2017 established a branch of the party in Belogorsk and jointly became its leader together with Aider Dzhapparov. They involved Enver Omerov’s son Riza in the branch’s activities. As in other cases, the party activities consisted of meetings to study Islam and the ideas of Hizb ut-Tahrir. The investigation established their desire to create an ideal Muslim state in the future (a revival of the universal Islamic Caliphate), so, in addition to Article 205.5 of the Criminal Code, Omerov and Dzhapparov were also charged under Part 1 of Article 30 in conjunction with Article 278 of the Criminal Code (preparation for the forcible seizure of power by an organized group).

  • Why Memorial considers the six to be political prisoners

The convicted Muslims were guilty only of being members of a civil society association. They were not charged with preparing terrorist attacks or voicing terrorist threats. Their prosecution violates Article 28 of the Russian Constitution which guarantees everyone ‘freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.’

Memorial considers the designation of Hizb ut-Tahrir a terrorist organization unlawful. The Supreme Court’s decision of 2003 devoted one paragraph of three sentences to Hizb ut-Tahrir. These contain no evidence of terrorist activities by the organisation.

In the years since the designation of Hizb ut-Tahrir as a terrorist organization in Russia, hundreds of Muslims have been criminally prosecuted on charges of involvement in the organization. Every year, the courts have been handing down ever longer sentences to the believers (up to 24 years in a strict regime colony). Currently, about 300 people are being prosecuted on charges of involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir.

The injustice and unlawfulness of the prosecution of Muslims for involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir in the Crimea is aggravated by the fact that under Ukrainian law this organization is legal.

The six Crimean Tatars convicted by the courts had taken part in supporting those Crimeans, and their families, who had been prosecuted by the Russian authorities. The convenient and familiar charge of involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir became a tool to suppress civil society solidarity in support of the Crimeans.

Recognition of an individual as a political prisoner does not imply that Memorial Human Rights Centre agrees with their views or statements, nor approves their statements or actions.

For more information about these cases, see: prosecution of citizens of Kyrgyzstan in Crimea; prosecution of three Belogorsk residents for membership of Hizb ut-Tahrir, the case of Enver Seitosmanov.

  • How to help

You can send letters to political prisoners in Crimea through the website of the organization Crimean Solidarity.

You can support all political prisoners by donating to the Fund to Support Political Prisoners of the Union of Solidarity with Political Prisoners via PayPal, using the e-wallet at [email protected]

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