On August 24, 2023, on Ukraine’s Independence Day, Russian security forces conducted yet another wave of searches in the occupied Crimea, after which six Crimean Tatars were detained on charges of alleged involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir (a pan-Islamic political party, which is recognized as a terrorist organization under the legislation of the Russian Federation but legally operates in the territory of Ukraine and most world countries).
Five detainees — Remzi Nimetulayev, Ruslan Asanov, Seydamet Mustafayev, Ametkhan Umerov, and Eldar Yakubov — are activists of the Crimean Solidarity human rights initiative. For the years of the occupation of Crimea, Ametkhan Umerov and Remzi Nimetulayev have been detained three times for alleged administrative offenses, they were forced to pay a fine and serve administrative arrest. In the autumn of 2021, Seydamet Mustafayev and Eldar Yakubov were among several dozen detained activists who came out in support of the political repression victims. Another detainee, Abdulmedzhyt Seytumerov, is the brother of political prisoners Seytumer Seytumerov and Osman Seytumerov, sentenced to 17 and 13 years in prison, respectively.
These searches confirm the unchanging repressive traditions of the Russian occupation administration in Crimea. The searches began at 04:00 when children and adults were sleeping at home. Currently, it is known that security forces seized a banned book from Eldar Yakubov’s house which they planted themselves. During the search of Seydamet Mustafayev’s house, the Russian security forces did not allow anyone to approach closer than 300 m, threatening those who approached the place of the search. After the searches were completed, all six detainees were taken to the FSB department in occupied Simferopol. As practice shows, the occupiers conduct such massive waves of searches every six months, after which four to six Crimean Tatars are detained.
The Russian Federation uses its anti-terrorism legislation to prosecute Crimean Tatar activists, human rights defenders, and religious figures. During the occupation of Crimea, 106 Ukrainian citizens have been repressed on charges of alleged involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir, 104 of them are representatives of the indigenous Crimean Tatar people. Russian propaganda periodically tells domestic and foreign audiences that Russia is allegedly combating Islamic terrorism in Crimea. However, such actions have nothing to do with the fight against terrorism but are a way of terror against the civilian population of the occupied territories of Ukraine. This is confirmed by the increasingly brutal systematic practice of abductions, torture, imprisonment, and other atrocities of the Russian regime against residents of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, the city of Sevastopol, Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia regions.
According to the most modest data, the number of political prisoners in the occupied Crimea has increased at least 1.5 times for the year and a half of the full-scale war. In addition to Crimean Tatar activists, human rights defenders, journalists, various religious groups, pro-Ukrainian residents, and anyone who expresses the slightest disagreement with the actions of the occupation administration are victims of political repression in Crimea.
Russia’s defiant disregard of almost all norms of international law once again convinces that the only way to stop the arbitrariness and impunity of the occupiers, to prevent new war crimes, crimes against humanity, and gross violations of human rights in Crimea and other occupied territories of Ukraine is their earliest possible de-occupation with the help of available diplomatic, sanctions, legal, and military measures, including the right to individual self-defense, provided for in Art. 51 of the UN Charter, and the restoration of the Ukrainian law and order in these territories.
Therefore, we call on the governments of foreign countries and international organizations, in particular the International Crimea Platform participants, to:
- Condemn in strong and consolidated terms the detention of Remzi Nimetulayev, Ruslan Asanov, Seydamet Mustafayev, Ametkhan Umerov, Eldar Yakubov, and Abdulmedzhyt Seytumerov
- Increase comprehensive, including military, support for Ukraine with the aim of de-occupation of all territories of Ukraine, including the Crimean peninsula since de-occupation is a prerequisite for the protection and restoration of human rights in Crimea
- Impose personal sanctions on people involved in the searches and detentions of Remzi Nimetulayev, Ruslan Asanov, Seydamet Mustafayev, Ametkhan Umerov, Eldar Yakubov, and Abdulmedzhyt Seytumerov
- Provide comprehensive support to victims of political repression in Crimea, their families and lawyers
- Continue to monitor and document human rights violations, war crimes, and crimes against humanity in occupied Crimea and include them in regular reports on the human rights situation in Ukraine
- Provide assistance to the Government of Ukraine in the investigation into war crimes, crimes against humanity, and gross violations of human rights in the occupied Crimea
- Strengthen diplomatic, sanctions and other pressure on the Russian Federation to prevent new atrocities in the occupied Crimea and mainland Ukraine and to speed up the de-occupation of all territories of Ukraine
- Maximize the use of the Crimea Platform, the mechanisms of the UN, the Council of Europe, the OSCE and other international organizations for speeding up the release of Crimean political prisoners, civilian hostages in the occupied territories, making response to human rights violations in the occupied Crimea efficient, and bringing the de-occupation of all territories of Ukraine closer
- Facilitate the expansion of the International Crimea Platform participants by involving the countries of the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America
- Promote the creation of a special mechanism for holding the political and military leadership of the Russian Federation to account for the crime of aggression against Ukraine.
Human Rights Center “Action”
Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union
Center for Civil Liberties
The Crimean Human Rights Group