On September 16, 2020 the Southern District Military Court in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don announced sentences for the seven members of the Second Bakhchysarai group of the “case against Crimean Muslims” “, convicting them to long prison sentences.
In particular, Marlen Asanov is sentenced to 19 years of maximum security prison, Memet Belyalov to 18 years, Tymur Ibragimov to 17 years, Seyran Saliev to 16 years, Server Mustafayev to 14 years, Server Zekeryaev and Edem Smailov to 13 years. All the convicted individuals were accused by the Russia’s Federal Security Service of organizing or participating in activities of Hizb ut-Tahrir organization, banned in Russia. They were arrested and have been detained for more than two years.
Among the convicted are activists of Crimean Solidarity (a human rights initiative that emerged under the circumstances of occupation) as well as Crimean Solidarity’s coordinator – human rights defender and citizen journalist Server Mustafayev who has been recognized as a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.
The sentences were handed down despite the lack of factual evidence of the “defendants” committing the crimes they were accused of and despite the many signs of the trial being fabricated and having the features of a political persecution. The court hearings, that preceded the verdict announcement day, on multiple occasions illustrated the prejudice of the judges against the “defendants” through decisions and communication synchronized with the accusation.
In discord with the norms of international law, Russian Federation continues to apply its national “antiterrorist legislation” on the territory of occupied Crimea and to systematically use it as a tool of political pressure and persecution. Convicting Crimean Tatar activist who have committed no crimes is yet another illustration of Russia’s and that of occupant Crimean administration systemic policy aimed at total cleansing of the peninsula of persons and communities that Kremlins considers “unreliable” or “disloyal”. As of now, at least 70 Ukrainian citizens are detained on the basis of identical accusations in the so called “case of Crimean Muslims”.
We resolutely condemn the persecution of Muslims and of Crimean Tatar activists in occupied Crimea based on fake accusations and demand form the government of Russian Federation to:
- immediately release all political prisoners, including the illegally detained and convicted representatives of the Second Bakhchysarai group in the so called “case against Crimean Muslims”;
- stop the persecution of Crimean Tatars, Crimean Muslims including the administrative arrests, criminal accusations, confiscation of property and other types of;
- immediately discontinue applying the so called antiterrorism legislation of RF on the territory of occupied Crimea.
We call on international organizations and governments of democratic countries to:
- condemn actions of Russian Federation in the direction of political persecution of lawyers, human rights defenders and civil society activists in occupied Crimea;
- continue applying pressure on Russian government so that it releases all the political prisoners, stops persecuting Crimean Tatars, including activists of Crimean Solidarity, as well as pro-Ukrainian activists;
- strengthen sectoral sanctions against Russian Federation imposed for systematic gross violations of human rights and war crimes, committed in occupied Crimea;
- facilitate monitoring of trials of Ukrainian citizens in Russian courts and in occupant administration-controlled Crimean “courts”;
- assist in enabling the functioning of the independent monitoring missions under the auspices of UN, OSCE, Council of Europe that hold mandate to monitor situation with human rights in Crimea, including religious freedom and right to peaceful assembly. The work of the monitoring mission has to be conducted with a permit from Ukrainian government and in consultations with Ukrainian and international nongovernmental organizations.
We address the President of Ukraine, Parliament of Ukraine, Ministry for Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine, Prosecutor’s Office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol City with a demand to:
- enable effective investigation of the instances of unlawful detention and persecution of Marlen Asanov, Memet Belyalov, Tymur Ibragimov , Seyran Saliev, Server Mustafayev, Server Zekeryaev and Edem Smailov as well as of all other gross infringements on religious freedom and peaceful assembly in occupied Crimea so that the principle of certainty of punishment for war crimes and other human rights violations prevails;
- prepare and implement the necessary complex legislation aimed at providing state protection and assistance to persons who are illegally detained and are victims of political persecution by occupant administration of Crimea and by Russian Federation;
- adopt the bill on amending legislation on harmonization of Criminal Code with norms of international law (registration number 2689) and introduce accountability for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed on Ukraine’s occupied territories;
- enable proper functioning of the Department for Crimes Committed During Armed Conflict within The Prosecutor’s General Office Of Ukraine and to provide conditions for the facilitation of work of the department.
Human Rights Center ZMINA
Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union
Crimean Human Rights Group
Center for Civil Liberties
Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
Center for civil education “Almenda”
Human rights house Crimea
Regional center for human rights
Union of Relatives of Kremlin’s Political Prisoners
Educational Human Rights House in Chernihiv
Association of Ukrainian Human Rights Monitors on Law Enforcement
No Borders Project