“Will they arrest children next?” Gravely ill political prisoner speaks out for other victims; Amnesty International for him
Despite his own life-threatening medical condition, 58-year-old Edem Bekirov’s message to the Russian-controlled court in Crimea on 6 June was about the regime’s mounting repression that had just intensified against women activists. Throughout the cruel farce of yet another ‘detention hearing’, Bekirov held up a placard reading: “First young men, then the elderly. Now women. Who will be next? Children?” Since Russia has already introduced a law allowing for certain highly questionable prosecutions from the age of 14, the suggestion is shocking, but not unrealistic.
Bekirov was held for 12 hours that day without any food or medical care, despite his diabetes making it vital that he eats something every three hours. Bekirov’s lawyer, Alexei Ladin, stresses that the consequences could be grave, with the risk of him falling into a diabetic coma without regular food intake.
‘Judge’ Anton Tsykurenko from the Kievsky District Court in Simferopol even issued a separate order to the prosecutor to react to the 12-hour period . This was, unfortunately, almost certainly a mere formality, in response to Ladin’s justified objections. Bekirov also had serious heart surgery in 2018, and is an amputee, with all of this making his continued detention both life-threatening and in violation even of Russian legislation, yet Tsykurenko still extended the detention for a further two months.
That this is both torture and potentially fatal is certainly clear to the FSB ‘investigators’ and to Tsykurenko. As reported recently, the ‘investigator’ has, in fact, used both as leverage, offering Bekirov house arrest if he agreed to ‘confess’ to the entirely fabricated charges.
They ask people to write to the head of the de facto Penitentiary Service in occupied Crimea, either in their own words, or using their sample letter (copied below) either in English, or in Russian.
To: Major General Vadim V. Bulgakov
Head of the Federal Penitentiary Service Directorate for Crimea Ul. Gagarina 18-a
Fax: +7 (3652) 22-53-97
Dear Major General,
I am writing to you to express my concern regarding the deteriorating health of Edem Bekirov, who is currently held in the Simferopol SIZO after being detained on 12 December 2018 while he was visiting his mother in Crimea.
Edem Bekirov, who is a wheelchair user, is held in a detention centre that is not suitable for a person with a disability, and that prevents him from getting fresh air or access basic sanitation. Moreover, he has a number of medical conditions, including diabetes, an open wound on his amputated leg, and heart problems after a heart attack, that require specialised and constant medical care that is not available in the detention centre. After the most recent visit on 24 May, Edem Bekirov’s lawyer reported a visible deterioration of his health which raises concerns not only for his wellbeing but his life. Edem Bekirov’s family are extremely concerned about the inhumane conditions in which Edem Bekirov is being kept and that the lack of medical care and inadequate treatment is putting his life at risk.
The conditions in which Edem Bekirov is kept, including non-provision of the medical care he requires, violate his human rights, putt his life at risk and amount to inhuman and degrading treatment.
I therefore call on you to urgently ensure that Edem Bekirov is provided with the medical care he requires, including in a hospital outside of the penitentiary system if this is not available to him in detention.
Or in Russian:
Генерал-майору Вадиму Булгакову
Главе УФСИН России по республике Крым и Севастополю
ул. Гагарина 18-a
Электронная почта: [email protected] и [email protected]
Факс: +7 (3652) 22-53-97
Я пишу, чтобы выразить беспокойство касательно ухудшающегося здоровья Эдема Бекирова, который сейчас удерживается в СИЗО Симферополя после того, как он был задержан 12 декабря 2018 года, когда навещал свою мать в Крыму.
Эдем Бекиров, имеющий инвалидность, вследствие которой он вынужден пользоваться инвалидной коляской, содержится в СИЗО, условия которого не являются надлежащими для человека с инвалидностью, так как у него нет доступа к свежему воздуху и к базовым санитарным удобствам. Кроме того, у него несколько заболеваний, включая диабет, открытая рана на ампутированной ноге и проблемы с сердцем, начавшиеся после сердечного приступа. Эти проблемы требуют специализированного и постоянного медицинского ухода, который недоступен в СИЗО. После последнего посещения заключённого 24 мая адвокат Эдема Бекирова сообщил, что у него явно ухудшилось здоровье, и речь идет не только о его благосостоянии, но и о его жизни. Семья Эдема Бекирова чрезвычайно обеспокоена бесчеловечными условиями, в которых содержится Эдем Бекиров, а также из-за того, что нехватка медицинского ухода и ненадлежащее лечение подвергают его жизнь риску.
Условия, в которых содержится Эдем Бекиров, включая неоказание медицинского ухода, в котором он нуждается, нарушают его права человека, подвергают риску его жизнь и являются бесчеловечным и унижающим достоинство обращением.
Таким образом, я призываю Вас немедленно обеспечить Эдему Бекирову необходимый медицинский уход, в том числе больницу за пределами пенитенциарной системы, если такой уход невозможно предоставить в СИЗО
Amnesty International rightly notes (although not in the above sample letters) that charges like those brought against Bekirov of possession and transfer of explosives and ammunition “are often reported used by Russian law enforcement authorities to target individuals arbitrarily, particularly in the context of politically-motivated prosecution”.
While AI mentions only that Bekirov maintains his innocence, he is, in fact, charged with transporting 13 kilograms of explosives which he is not physically in a condition to have even lifted, yet is accused of having transported into Crimea.
Bekirov is an active member of the Crimean Tatar community in Novooleksiyivka (Kherson oblast) and is married to a member of the Mejlis (representative assembly) of the Crimean Tatar People. Russia is maintaining its persecution of the Mejlis, in violation of a direct order from the UN’s International Court of Justice and it seems likely that this was the reason that Bekirov was targeted. He was seized by the FSB on 12 December, 2018, when he tried to cross into Crimea to visit his elderly mother and other relatives. He was held incommunicado until well into the evening, and without food or water until the ‘court hearing’ the following day that ordered his detention for two months.
The FSB accuse him of circulating and transporting more than 10 kilograms of DNT and 190 bullets ((under Article 222 § 2 of Russia’s criminal code). According to the FSB’s ‘secret witness’ whom they call ‘Memetov’, Bekirov passed the explosives and bullets – all 13 kilogram worth - to him in May of this year. Memetov purportedly placed them in a secret hiding place around Krasnoperekopsk and then in August revealed this place to the Russian FSB and gave testimony against Bekirov.
Please also write to politicians in your country, stressing the urgency of Edem Bekirov’s plight and need for pressure to be put on the Russian authorities to stop placing Bekirov’s life in very real danger.