Crimean Tatars ’tried’ & fined for solidarity with victims of persecution
Russia is extending repressive measures in occupied Crimea to target those who dare ask why when their compatriots are facing persecution. On Dec 6, Enver Sherfiyev, a Crimean Tatar from Bakhchysarai was convicted by a Russian-controlled court of taking part in an ‘unauthorized rally’ and fined 15 thousand roubles. He was the fourth Crimean Tatar to have been prosecuted merely for coming out onto the street on May 12, and asking why armed FSB and OMON riot police were once again carrying out searches of Crimean Tatar homes and taking their neighbours away in handcuffs. The aim is very clearly to frighten people in the hope that they will sit in their homes and just hope they’re not next.
Sherfiyev’s lawyer Edem Semedlyaev rejects the claim that there was a rally or political meeting that day. “People gathered spontaneously, like during a fire or a road accident. There were no slogans or no demands were put. We consider this to be pressure on people. The court ruling will be appealed.”
There are, unfortunately, no grounds for expecting any justice at appeal level. The same ‘judge’ – Marina Nikishchenko from the Bakhchysarai District Court – has already fined three other Crimeans over the events on May 12: Marlen Asanov; Emil Belyalov and Seiran Saliev.
The 20-thousand rouble fine imposed on Seiran Saliev for supposedly ‘organizing an unsanctioned public event’ was upheld by the Crimean Supreme Court under occupation on Aug 23.
Saliev had certainly used the loudspeaker in the local Mosque to inform residents that the armed searches were underway, but this is hardly ‘organizing a mass event’.
“I informed people that the enforcement bodies were carrying out searches. As a Muslim and a citizen. I informed of their actions. These were open investigative operations. It is unwarranted to accuse me of organizing a meeting, I didn’t organize any meeting”, Saliev stated in court.
There were a large number of people out on the street, understandably outraged. The men behind masks taking 49-year-old Remzi Memetov away were asked by one elderly woman what right they had.
“Our people have never caused anybody harm, never! We lived so many years in Ukraine, there was not one terrorist act, no harm…. You have no right to carry out such searches…”
“We are in our native land”, other women cried.
In the early morning of May 12, a huge number of masked and armed Russian OMON riot police turned up in a part of Bakhchysarai, and carried out searches of the homes of four Crimean Tatars: Rustem Abilltarov; Zevri Abseitov; Enver Mamutov; and Remzi Mememov. All four men were taken away and are now in custody, charged with involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir. This organization is legal in Ukraine and most countries, and Russia has never provided any sensible grounds for the decision, long kept secret, to declare the organization ‘terrorist’. Despite the lack of any justification for criminalizing the organization or for accusing the men of involvement in it, they are among 19 men so far facing seriously long sentences. Four men from Sevastopol have already been convicted after a trial so flawed and lacking in any evidence that the person accused of ‘organizing a terrorist’ (Hizb ut-Tahrir) group – Ruslan Zeitullayev had the charges reduced to merely ‘taking part’, while the other three men – Ferat Saifullayev; Rustem Vaitov and Nuri Primov received the lowest sentence the judges could give (given the lack of courage required to buck the repressive system and acquit all four men).
Imprisoned on so-called Hizb ut-Tahrir charges
2015 Nuri Primov; Ferat Saifullayev; Rustem Vaitov; and Ruslan Zeitullayev
THERE IS AN ADDRESS AND SOME HELP ON WRITING TO THE FOUR MEN
Feb 2016 Emir-Huseyn Kuku (a human rights activist); Muslim Aliev; Envir Bekirov and Vadim Siruk
April 2016 Arsen Dzhepparov and Refat Alimov
May 2016 Enver Mamutov, Rustem Abiltarov, Remzi Memetov and Zevri Abseitov
Oct 2016 Timur Abdullayev; Uzeir Abdullayev; Emil Dzhemadenov; Aider Saledinov Rustem Ismailov