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Statement in support of citizen journalist Amet Suleymanov and three other Crimean political prisoners

29.10.2021, 18:00

On October 29, 2021, the Southern District Military Court in Rostov-na-Donu convicted four Crimean Tatars: citizen journalist Crimean Solidarity Amet Suleymanov and three other prisoners of the "Third Bakhchisarai Group" in the "Crimean Muslim" case: Rustem Seitmemetov and brothers Osman and Seitumer Seitumerov. Russian security forces also detained more than 30 people (including two journalists) in occupied Simferopol while trying to attend a video broadcast of pronouncement of the sentence. 

Amet Suleymanov was sentenced to 12 years in prison, Rustem Seitmemetov was to 13 years, Osman Seitumerov was to 14 years, and Seitumer Seitumerov was to 17 years in a maximum security prison. Each of them will serve the first three and a half years in a maximum security prison.

They were convicted under Art. 205.5 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (participation in a terrorist organization) through involvement, according to the FSB, in the Islamic organization "Hizb ut-Tahrir", which is recognized as a terrorist in Russia, but is not such under the laws of Ukraine and most countries. 

All four Crimean Tatars were detained by Russian security forces on March 11, 2020, after searches of their homes. According to relatives and lawyers, during searches of the homes of Amet Suleymanov and Rustem Seitmemetov, security forces seized banned literature, which they themselves planted as trumped-up "evidence" proving that Crimean Tatars were members of Hizb ut-Tahrir. On March 12, 2020, the Kyiv District Court of Simferopol ordered to place Amet Suleymanov under house arrest as a precautionary measure and the detention for other detainees. 

Their cases were considered in violation of the right to a fair trial, and the main evidence for the judges was the testimony of some anonymous witnesses, the testimony ofsome witnesses who later claimed to have given them under pressure, and the linguistic examination of the conversations of the accused Muslims. At the same time, the requests of the defense party to conduct alternative examinations were constantly ignored by the judges. These facts indicate the falsification of evidence by FSB investigators. 

Amet Suleymanov is a citizen journalist for the Crimean Solidarity initiative and, prior to his arrest, covered the searches and detentions of Crimean Tatars in the Russian-occupied Crimea. At the same time Amet has a diagnosis of arterial and mitral valve insufficiency and replacement of  the heart valve is recommended for him, which is impossible in prison. Suleymanov's transfer from house arrest to imprisonment will be a threat to his health and life. His lawyers are going to appeal the decision of the court of first instance, but Amet Suleymanov will remain under house arrest until the verdict comes into force.

We reiterate once more that the unlawful imprisonment and sentencing of Amet Suleymanov, Rustem Seitmemetov and the Seitumerov brothers is a gross violation of international humanitarian law, which prohibits the extension of the criminal law of the occupying state to the occupied territory (Article 64 IV of Geneva and Confederation of Geneva) and persecution of some identified group or community for some political reasons is a crime against humanity under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (art. 7 (1) (h)).

We, the representatives of human rights organizations, strongly condemn the persecution of Amet Suleymanov, Rustem Seitmemetov, Osman and Seitumer Seitumer and other Crimean Tatar activists in the temporarily occupied Crimea on politically motivated cases and demand from the Russian authorities as state occupant of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea to:

-immediately release Amet Suleymanov, Rustem Seitmemetov, Osman and Seitumer Seitumer and all other Crimean political prisoners;

-immediately stop the use of anti-terrorist and anti-extremist legislation of the Russian Federation in the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol;

-to stop arbitrary searches, detentions and other forms of political pressure on persons exercising their right to freedom of expression, freedom of thought, conscience, religion and peaceful assembly;

-to abide by its obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

We appeal to foreign states, international organizations, in particular the participants of the Crimean platform to:

-condemn the actions of the Russian Federation regarding the political persecution of Ukrainian citizens in the occupied Crimea;

-increase pressure on the Russian authorities to achieve the release of all political prisoners and to stop the persecution of Ukrainian citizens in the occupied Crimea;

-introduce personal sanctions against judges, prosecutors and investigators involved in the political persecution of Ukrainian citizens in fabricated cases, as well as those involved in other gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Crimea;

-demand from the Russian Federation the admission of international monitoring missions of the UN, OSCE and Council of Europe to the occupied Crimea;

-provide comprehensive support to victims of political repression in Crimea and their families;

-make the most of the instruments of the Crimean Platform and other mechanisms of international cooperation to end political repression in Crimea.

We call on the President of Ukraine, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the Ministry of Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, the Prosecutor's Office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol to:

-ensure the effective investigation of the facts of illegal imprisonment and persecution of Amet Suleymanov, Rustem Seitmemetov, Osman and Seitumer Seitumer and all other facts of gross violations of fundamental human rights in the temporarily occupied Crimea; 

-sign a draft law on amendments to some legislative acts of Ukraine on the implementation of international criminal law and international humanitarian law №2689, introducing appropriate responsibility for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in the occupied territories;

-initiate decisive steps within the Crimean Platform aimed at ending political repression in Crimea and releasing all citizens of Ukraine who are imprisoned for political reasons on the territory of the Russian Federation and the Crimea occupied by it.

ZMINA Human Rights Center

PLATFORM FOR THE RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS

Media initiative for human rights

Crimean human rights group

CrimeaSOS

Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

Kharkiv Human Rights Group

Ukrainian branch of the International PEN Club

Institute of Mass Information

Center for Civil Liberties

Association of relatives of Kremlin political prisoners

Regional Center for Human Rights

Almenda Civic Education Center

Crimea Human Rights House

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