‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’: Crimean Tatar activist Ansar Osmanov is a political prisoner

15 December 2022

Ansar Osmanov faces terrorism charges on account of alleged involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir

Source: Political Prisoners. Memorial

The human rights project, ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial,’ in accordance with international standards, considers Crimean Tatar Ansar Osmanov a political prisoner. His criminal case relates to his alleged involvement in the Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami party, which is banned in Russia. The prosecution of Ansar Osmanov is in gross violation of the rights to freedom of religion and freedom of association.

We demand the immediate release of Ansar Osmanov and that all criminal charges against him be dropped.

What are the criminal charges against Osmanov?

Ansar Osmanov is a woodcarver and artist. He has four children who are minors, including three who are aged five, eleven and fourteen.

On 9 February 2022, security forces conducted searches of the homes of Muslims in Crimea’s Bakhchisarai district as a result of which two people, including Ansar Osmanov, were detained. On 31 August 2022, Osmanov’s trial began at the Southern District Military Court. Osmanov is held on remand in Rostov-on-Don.

Osmanov is accused of organising the activities of a terrorist organisation (Article 205.5, Part 1, of the Russian Criminal Code) and preparation for a violent seizure of power (Article 30, Part 1, of the Russian Criminal Code, in conjunction with Article 278 of the Russian Criminal Code). All the charges against Osmanov concern evidence of his involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir, which has been declared a terrorist organisation in Russia.

Osmanov maintains he is innocent of the charges against him. He argues that the provisions of the 1949 Geneva Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War should apply to him. He also considers that his criminal prosecution is on account of his active civic position in support of Crimean Tatar political prisoners.

Why do we consider Osmanov a political prisoner?

In Osmanov’s case the Investigative Committee provided no evidence to the court of terrorist activities, preparation of terrorist acts, possession of ammunition or even incitement to violence. The charges are based solely on the fact that Osmanov participated in the activities of Hizb ut-Tahrir – he organised and conducted meetings and discussions with like-minded people.

We consider the 2003 decision of the Supreme Court designating Hizb ut-Tahrir a terrorist organisation to be unfounded. The ruling contains no evidence Hizb ut-Tahrir engages in terrorist activities. We are not aware of any instances of terrorist acts being carried out or prepared by members of the group anywhere in the world.

At the same time, the ruling by the Russian Supreme Court has simplified the procedure for investigating ‘terrorist’ cases in relation to Hizb ut-Tahrir. In such prosecutions it is no longer necessary to prove the commission or preparation of a terrorist act. Russian law enforcement officials take advantage of this fact to artificially inflate their statistics with regard to solving crimes of terrorism.

In annexed Crimea, the prosecution of Hizb ut-Tahrir members is also intended to suppress the Crimean Tatars, a group for whom Moscow-based rulers have traditionally lacked legitimacy. Crimean Tatars reacted negatively to the annexation of the peninsula in 2014 and have been persecuted ever since. In Ukraine, Hizb ut-Tahrir functions legally as an organisation.

Osmanov took part in defending the rights of Crimean Tatars prosecuted by the Russian authorities. He attended court hearings and provided assistance to defendants’ families. It is very likely that the charge of involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir is also a tool to suppress civic solidarity among residents of Crimea.

A more detailed description of the case of Ansar Osmanov and the position of the human rights project, ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial,’ are available on our Telegram publishing platform.

An up-to-date list of political prisoners in Russia is available on our website.

Recognition of an individual as a political prisoner does not imply the ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ project agrees with, or approves of, their views, statements, or actions.

How can you help?

You can send electronic letters to political prisoners in Crimea via the website of Crimean Solidarity.

You can donate to support all political prisoners via the PayPal (helppoliticalprisoners@gmail.com) or YooMoney accounts of the Union of Solidarity with Political Prisoners.

Translated by Rights in Russia

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