Uzbekistani human rights defender Rakhmiddin Kamolov, convicted of a terrorist offence in Russia, is a political prisoner
Memorial Human Rights Centre, in accordance with international criteria, considers Rakhmiddin Kamolov a political prisoner. We believe Kamolov has been prosecuted for political reasons for the non-violent exercise of his rights to freedom of conscience, religion, speech and association. In so doing, his right to fair trial has been violated. The aim of the prosecution has been to force Kamolov to cease his civil society activities. Memorial calls for the immediate release of the human rights defender.
Who is Rakhmiddin Kamolov?
Rakhmiddin Kamolov is an Uzbekistani citizen who has lived, since 2010, in Moscow, where he engaged in human rights activities with the organizations Yordam (‘Help’ in Uzbek), that provides assistance to refugees from Central Asia, and the Society of Political Emigrants of Central Asia, where he was an assistant to the Society’s president, the well-known Uzbekistani dissident and human rights activist Bakhrom Khamroyev.
In 2015, criminal charges were laid against Kamolov in Uzbekistan for alleged membership in a Moscow group of the ‘religious extremist’ party Hizb ut-Tahrir, the main goal of which, according to Uzbek security officials, is the illegal overthrow of the country’s government. The accused was placed on an international wanted list. Rakhmiddin Kamolov applied for asylum in Russia, but was refused and in August 2016 he was taken into custody, in preparation for his extradition, which did not take place thanks to the intervention of human rights defenders.
What was Kamolov accused of in Russia?
In March 2017 the FSB brought a criminal case against Kamolov under Part 1 of Article 205.5 of the Russian Criminal Code on charges of organizing the activities of Hizb ut-Tahrir, an international Islamic party designated in 2003 as terrorist by decision of the Russian Supreme Court. According to the investigation, Rakhmiddin Kamolov participated in two meetings with members of Hizb ut-Tahrir, and organized another meeting with two Muslims.
In December 2017, the Moscow District Military Court sentenced Kamolov to 16 years’ deprivation of liberty in a strict-regime colony.
Why Memorial considers Kamolov a political prisoner
Kamolov was found guilty only of being (according to the prosecution, he himself denies this) a member of a civil society association. He was not charged with violence, preparing terrorist attacks or voicing terrorist threats.
Memorial considers the designation of Hizb ut-Tahrir a terrorist organization unlawful. The decision of the Supreme Court, adopted in closed session without the participation of the association’s representatives, devotes one paragraph of three sentences to Hizb ut-Tahrir. They contain no evidence of terrorist activities.
It is precisely the designated status of ‘terrorist organisation’ that allows any of its activities — meetings, tea-drinking sessions, discussions, etc. — to be considered ‘terrorist.’
We point out that Article 28 of the Russian Constitution protects these activities by believers. Article 28 guarantees everyone ‘freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, including the right, either individually or in community with others, to profess or not to profess any religion, to freely choose, hold, disseminate and act in conformity with religious and other beliefs.’
An even more blatant violation of law and morality is the fact that Kamolov’s human rights activities were the reason for his prosecution.
The Russian authorities, instead of granting asylum to a victim of political persecution in a neighbouring authoritarian state, not only denied him this, but also initiated criminal proceedings against him themselves. The convenient and familiar charge of involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir has become an instrument of solidarity among the security agencies of the authoritarian regimes of Russia and Uzbekistan in the fight against their political opponents.
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.
A detailed description of the case and its assessment by Memorial Human Rights Centre can be found on our website.
How to help
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@example.com.
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