14 January 2021
Marsel Gimaliev, who is fighting to obtain official recognition for his disability after he suffered a fractured spine, faces life imprisonment
Source: Memorial Human Rights Centre
Memorial Human Rights Centre, in accordance with international criteria, considers Marsel Gimaliev a political prisoner. We believe his prosecution is politically motivated on account of the non-violent exercise of his rights to freedom of conscience, religion, speech and association and has been conducted for the purpose of maintaining and strengthening the authority of those in power. Memorial emphasizes that the health and life of Gimaliev, who suffers from a fractured spine, are in danger and calls for his immediate release.
Who is Marsel Gimaliev and what is he accused of?
In March 2017 15 alleged members of the Islamic party Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami, that is banned in Russia, were detained in Kazan, according to security officials. Among them was Marsel Gimaliev.
A criminal case was opened against him for organisation of the activities of a terrorist group (Article 205.5, Part 1, of the Criminal Code) and aiding and abetting terrorist activities (Article 205.1, Part 1, of the Criminal Code). According to the investigators, Gimaliev twice held meetings at which he discussed political news and the situation of Muslims in the world with people who shared his views. He also participated in the organisation of football matches to attract new supporters. Moreover, he once collected at least 300 roubles from his students to pay for the printing of literature and hiring premises.
At the time of his arrest, Gimaliev tried to escape but fell from the fifth floor of a building and suffered several fractures to his spine, ribs and shins, as well as injuries to his internal organs. After he was discharged from hospital, he was placed under house arrest, while the others arrested along with him were taken into custody.
Gimaliev escaped from house arrest in November 2017. Two and a half years later, in February 2020, he was detained in Bryansk region and taken to Kazan where he was remanded in custody.
For many months now, Gimaliev has been struggling with the consequences of his injuries and has unsuccessfully sought the medical care to which he is legally entitled. Memorial Human Rights Centre is helping him with the paperwork to reinstate his disability status.
Why does Memorial consider Gimaliev a political prisoner?
Memorial Human Rights Centre has repeatedly stated its disagreement with the decision of the Supreme Court designating Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami a terrorist organisation.
The Supreme Court decision of 14 February 2003 devoted three sentences to the activities of Hizb ut-Tahrir. The first sentence states the organisation’s aim of establishing a worldwide Islamic caliphate; the second notes its widespread advocacy of Islamic ideas; and the third refers to a ban on its activities in Uzbekistan and some Arab countries. These assertions do not constitute grounds for recognising an organisation as terrorist. Consequently, it is also illegitimate to lay charges of terrorism solely on the basis of membership of, or involvement in, Hizb ut-Tahrir. Despite this, charges of participation in any of the organisation’s activities automatically carry heavy prison sentences.
There is no evidence in Gimaliev’s case that he was engaged in terrorism, that he committed crimes of violence, made preparations for such crimes, or even incited acts of violence.
The frequent prosecution of Muslims on charges of participation in Hizb ut-Tahrir is used by the Russian State to create the illusion of an intensive struggle against terrorism in a way that involves minimal effort.
According to a list maintained by Memorial, at present at least 316 people are being prosecuted for involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir.
More information about the prosecution of Marsel Gimaliev is available on the website of Memorial Human Rights Centre.
Recognition of an individual as a political prisoner or as a victim of politically motivated prosecution does not imply Memorial Human Rights Centre agrees with, or approves of, their views, statements, or actions.
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Translated by Simon Cosgrove