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Statement on the arrests in occupied Crimea on March 11th, 2020

On March 11, 2020, representatives of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation conducted mass searches in occupied Crimea in about seven homes. At least 5 Crimean Tatars were detained in the city of Bakhchisaray and the Bakhchisarai district and transferred to the FSB building in Simferopol.

This is another politically motivated campaign of detention against the Crimean Tatar community, including activists of the human rights initiative “Crimean solidarity”. Traditionally, the anti-terrorist legislation of the Russian Federation has been used as a tool for persecution. The detained persons are accused of organizing or participating in the activities of the religious organization Hizb ut-Tahrir, which is banned in Russia as a terrorist organization.

In fact, a new wave of mass searches has started in Crimea and the systematic persecution of the Crimean Tatars continues.

Taking this into account, we urge the Government of the Russian Federation and the occupying authorities in Crimea:

  • to immediately release the detained Crimean Tatars;
  • conduct a prompt, effective and impartial investigation of unlawful detentions and incidents of physical violence against activists in Crimea, and hold those responsible for unlawful acts accountable;
  • take all necessary measures to prevent such actions in the future;
  • release all previously unlawfully detained persons and end the persecution of Crimean Tatars, Crimean Muslims, including those under administrative detention, lift criminal charges, stop confiscation of property and other forms of repression.

We appeal to international organizations and governments of democratic countries and ask them to:

  • continue pressure on the Russian authorities and demand to stop persecuting Muslims and Crimean Tatar activists;
  • condemn the use of the Russian “anti-terrorist” legislation to prosecute and “anti-extremist” legislation to prosecute lawyers, human rights activists and civic activists in occupied Crimea
  • to strengthen sectoral sanctions against the Russian Federation for systematic gross violations of human rights and war crimes committed in occupied Crimea.

Detailed information:

On March 11, security forces of the Russian Federal Security Forces (FSB) and Special Forces (OMON) conducted mass searches at Crimean Tatars’ houses in 7 locations in the city of Bakhchisaray and Bakhchisarai district. The searches were conducted in the house of a historian, Seitumer Seitumerov, the streamer of the Crimean Solidarity Initiative, Seidamet Mustafayev, Osman Seitumerov, Rustem Seitmemetov, Amet Suleimanov, Aider Suleimanov, and the journalist Seitumer Seitumerov. Journalist Seitumer Seitumerov was located in mainland Ukraine at that time, only his elderly parents were at home during the search.

The first search began at six in the morning at Mustafayev’s house. Lawyer Emine Awamileva noted that security officers had broken the front door lock before conducting a search. Lawyers were denied access to the searched house.

According to activists of “Crimean solidarity” initiative, Russian security forces seized phones and religious literature and were looking for weapons.

After the search, security forces detained Enver Mustafayev (the father of citizen journalist Seydamet Mustafayev), Seitumer Seitumerov (history teacher), Osman Seitumerov, Amet Suleimanov, and Rustem Seitmemetov. They were transferred to the Simferopol FSB station. Enver Mustafayev was later released. The man was questioned as a witness without his lawyer. The security officers were asking him about persons that have been detained earlier in Crimea. Seitumer Seitumerov (history teacher), Osman Seitumerov, Amet Suleimanov, Rustem Seitmemetov and Seitumer Seitumerov (journalist) are charged with article 205.5 of the Criminal Code (organization of terrorist organization or participation in such organization).


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