Five Crimeans charged with involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir, an organisation banned in Russia, are political prisoners
The ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ Project in accordance with international criteria, considers Dzhebbar Bekirov, Zavur Abdullaev, Rustem Murasov, Rustem Tairov and Raif Fevziev political prisoners. They are being prosecuted solely for alleged involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir and the non-violent exercise of the rights to freedom of religion and association.
We demand the release from custody of Dzhebbar Bekirov, Zavur Abdullaev, Rustem Murasov, Rustem Tairov and Raif Fevziev and that all charges against them be dropped.
What are the charges against the Muslims from Crimea?
On 17 August 2021 numerous searches were conducted of the homes of Crimean Tatars in Crimea. Five people were detained. Two criminal cases were opened for organisation of, and participation in, the activities of a terrorist organisation (Article 205.5, Parts 1 and 2 of the Russian Criminal Code) and preparation of a violent seizure of power (Article 30, Part 1, in conjunction with Article 278 of the Russian Criminal Code).
In one criminal case, Dzhebbar Bekirov is charged with organising a cell of Hizb ut-Tahrir and Zavur Abdullaev, Rustem Murasov and Rustem Tairov are charged with being members of the cell. In the other case, Raif Fevziev is the only defendant, charged with allegedly organising a cell of Hizb ut-Tahrir with a group of unknown participants.
If convicted, the defendants face sentences of up to life imprisonment.
Why do we consider the defendants political prisoners?
According to the materials of the investigations provided to the courts, the Muslims who are being prosecuted are alleged to be guilty solely of being members of Hizb ut-Tahrir, a party which is banned in Russia. There is no evidence in the criminal cases that the Crimeans actually prepared acts of terrorism, gave voice to threats of terrorism, or prepared a coup d’état. Moreover, the investigations have not even tried to prove anything of the sort.
The only thing the investigations have sought to show is that the defendants are involved in Hizb ut-Tahrir.
Both Memorial and the ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ Project considers the designation of Hizb ut-Tahrir as a terrorist organization unfounded and unlawful.
Although the ruling in 2003 by the Russian Supreme Court contains no evidence of terrorist activities by Hizb ut-Tahrir, hundreds of Muslims have been criminally prosecuted for involvement in this organization in recent years. With each succeeding year the courts have imposed more severe punishments on the believers.
It should be noted separately that the testimony that Bekirov, Abdullaev, Murasov, Tairov and Fevziev call themselves members of Hizb ut-Tahrir was obtained from secret witnesses, acting under pseudonyms. The use of classified witness testimony as key evidence in these investigations has become standard practice for the FSB. We consider this practice harmful, as it facilitates fabrication of evidence and limits the rights of the accused to a defence.
The injustice and unlawfulness of prosecutions on charges of involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir in Crimea is exacerbated by the fact that, under Ukrainian law, Hizb ut-Tahrir operates entirely legally. It is important to emphasise that both the criminal prosecutions themselves, and the fact that the Crimeans have been remanded in custody outside Crimea, grossly violate the norms of international humanitarian law.
Recognition of an individual as a political prisoner does not imply the ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ Project agrees with, or approves of, their views, statements, or actions.
How can you help?
You can send electronic letters to Crimean political prisoners via the Crimea Solidarity website.
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