Week-ending 15 January 2021
On 12 January 2021 the Southern Military Regional Court sitting in the city of Rostov-on sentenced Enver Omerov to 18 years, Ayder Dzhepparov to 17 years, and Riza Omerov to 13 years in prison. The three men, who were arrested in June 2019, were found guilty of being members of Hizb ut-Tahrir, an Islamic group that is banned in Russia as terrorist (by a decision of the Supreme Court in 2003). Enver Omerov was also found guilty of organizing the activities of a terrorist group. Hizb ut-Tahrir functions legally in Ukraine.
RFE/RL, 12 January 2021: Another group of Crimean Tatars has been sentenced to lengthy prison terms on charges of being members of a banned Islamic group and plotting to seize power in the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea that Moscow illegally annexed from Ukraine in 2014. The Southern Military Regional Court in the city of Rostov-on-Don on January 12 sentenced Enver Omerov to 18 years, Ayder Dzhepparov to 17 years, and Riza Omerov to 13 years in prison. The three men, who were arrested in June 2019, were found guilty of plotting to forcibly seize power in Crimea as members of Hizb ut-Tahrir, an Islamic group that is banned in Russia, but is legal in Ukraine. Enver Omerov was also found guilty of organizing the activities of a terrorist group.
Human Rights in Ukraine, 12 January 2021: A Russian court has sentenced three Crimean Tatars, including a father and son, to horrific terms of imprisonment without any crime, on the basis of discussions about their Muslim faith and political subjects, including Russia’s persecution of Muslims. This was claimed to have been “anti-Russian” and ‘anti-constitutional’. With these sentences, Russia wants to imprison three members of one family to 44.5 years’ imprisonment, with Fatma Ismailova, the daughter, wife and sister of three victims, now facing administrative charges for having asked permission in court to touch her father, Enver Omerov’s, hand. Any doubts that Russia is targeting Crimean Tatars with such persecution were dispelled during the night before the sentencing on 12 January when only Crimean Tatars were stopped from trying to cross the Crimean Bridge in order to be present outside the court in Rostov. Many Crimean Tatars had anticipated such repressive moves and had travelled to Rostov in advance, with around 50 gathering outside the court with T-shirts showing photos of the men and the words “No to state terror!” and “Stop the repression of families!”. A further 150 people gathered outside the Russian-controlled Crimean Garrison Military Court, with police officers demanding to see their documents and openly photographing them.
Human Rights in Ukraine, 12 January 2021: Update Russian officials eventually detained around 120 Crimean Tatars, with all of them prevented from travelling on until the morning of 12 January, thus too late to reach the sentencing of Enver Omerov, his son Riza and Aider Dzhapparov. Late on Monday evening, at least 17 vehicles and 59 Crimean Tatars were stopped at the entry to the Crimean Bridge as they tried to get to Rostov in Russia for the sentencing on 12 January of three recognized political prisoners. Among those detained were several veterans of the Crimean Tatar national movement, men in their sixties. There were no valid grounds for stopping any of the people, yet the traffic police took driving licences and car documents away, and also photographed passports, an act of overt intimidation. According to one of the activists, Dilyaver Abduramanov, they were told at one point that this was “an operation for processing individuals of eastern nationality”. This appalling admission of racial profiling, it should be stressed, was made by representatives of the Russian occupation regime to Crimean Tatars in the latter’s own homeland. One of the veterans, Usein Velikhayev noted that everybody was being let through, except Crimean Tatars. He asked an FSB officer present why they were only stopping Crimean Tatars, and was told they could not comment. “This is a kind of Crimean Tatar reservation”, Velikhayev added. The events only confirmed the bitter comparison with earlier Russian persecution of Crimean Tatars made in their powerful final addresses on 11 January by the three political prisoners, Enver Omerov; his son Riza Omerov and Aider Dzhapparov.