On 9 February, the occupied Crimea faced another wave of political repression. At 4 am, the Russian Federal Security Bureau conducted searches and arrests in the houses of Crimean Tatars in the Simpheropol, Bakhchysaray, and Bilohirsky districts of the Crimea as well as Balaclava district of the Sevastopol City. As a result, four Crimean Tatars were arrested – Ansar Osmanov, Ametkhan Abdulvapov, Marlen Mustafayev and Ernest Seitosmanov. They were charged on the allegations of supposed membership in ‘Hizb ut-Tahrir’ (an Islamic political organization with is legal in Ukraine and in the majority of the countries of the world, but is proscribed as a terrorist organization in Russian Federation by a decision by the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation).
The Crimean Tatar detainees are victims of targeted political repression by the Russian occupying power in the Crimea. Marlen Mustafayev actively supported families of political prisoners and was fined for a single-person protest in 2017. Ansar Osmanov is an activist of the ‘Crimean Solidarity’. He regularly attended politically motivated trials against Crimean Tatar and also provided his house as a facility of intellectual workshops for the children of political prisoners. Ernest Seitosmanov is a brother of Enver Seitosmanov, who has been sentenced to 17 years of imprisonment on the fabricated charges of membership in ‘Hizb ut-Tahrir’. Russian law enforcement agencies have previously searched his house. During a search in April 2021, they used physical force against Ernest by means of a suffocating grip.
During today’s searches, Russian occupants demonstrated persistence in repressive traditions. It was revealed that Russian law enforcement agencies planted proscribed literature under the mattress of a child’s bed during the search of Ansar Osmanov’s home. During the search at Marlen Mustafayev’s home, two small books were also planted and subsequently ‘seized’.
During the searches, the families tried to call attorneys and activists of the ‘Crimean Solidarity’, but their phones had been blocked.
Illegal detention of Ansar Osmanov, Ametkhan Abdulvapov, Marlen Mustafayev and Ernest Seitosmanov gravely violates international humanitarian law which prohibits the occupying state from enacting its criminal legislation over an occupied territory (Art. 64 IV of the Geneva Convention), while political prosecution of an identified group or community is a crime against humanity according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (Art. 7 (1)(h)). Also, gross human rights violations were committed during the searches when, in particular, violations of the right to privacy and the right to legal assistance.
We, the representatives of human rights organizations, strongly condemn the persecution and conviction of Ansar Osmanov, Ametkhan Abdulvapov, Marlen Mustafayev and Ernest Seitosmanov. We demand the Russian Federation, as toccupying power in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol:
- to immediately and unconditionally release Ansar Osmanov, Ametkhan Abdulvapov, Marlen Mustafayev and Ernest Seitosmanov and all other political prisoners;
- to investigate effectively all cases of arbitrary searches and detentions and bring the perpetrators to justice;
- to stop the practice of implementation of anti-terrorist and anti-extremist legislation to persecute people in the occupied Crimea and the City of Sevastopol;
- to stop arbitrary searches, detentions and abductions, as well as other forms of political pressure on persons exercising their right to freedom of expression, freedom of thought, conscience, religion and peaceful assembly;
- to adhere strictly to its obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law.
We call on governments of foreign states, international organizations, and in particular – members of the Crimea Platform to:
- to express strong and united condemnation of actions of the Russian Federation regarding the illegal detainment of Ukrainian citizens in the occupied Crimea;
- to enforce the pressure against Russia to force it to release all Ukrainian political prisoners and to stop persecution of Ukrainian citizens in the occupied Crimea;
- to implement personal sanctions against judges, investigators, representatives of penitentiary institutions, and persons who are responsible for gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in the Crimea;
- to demand that Russia allows access of the international monitoring missions of UN, OSCE, and the Council of Europe to the occupied Crimea;
- to provide all-round support to families of the illegally detained and their families, in particular to the psychological rehabilitation for children who witnessed arbitrary searches and detention of their parents;
- to comrehensively use the instruments of the Crimea Platform and other mechanisms of international cooperation to stop political repressions in Crimea.
We are calling on the President of Ukraine, the Parliament of Ukraine, the Prosecutor’s Office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol:
- to sign the draft Law on Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine Concerning the Implementation of International Criminal Law and International Humanitarian Law Norms, no 2689, introducing due responsibility for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in the occupied territories, and the draft Law On social and legal security of persons who have been recognized as having been deprived of personal freedom due to the armed aggression against Ukraine, and their families, no 6104;
- to initiate decisive actions within the framework of the Crimea Platform, aimed at combating political repressions in the Crimea and release of all Ukrainian citizens imprisoned for political reasons in the occupied Crime and the Russian Federation;
- to ensure effective investigation of arbitrary detentions and persecution of Ansar Osmanov, Ametkhan Abdulvapov, Marlen Mustafayev and Ernest Seitosmanov and other gross human rights violations in the occupied Crimea.
Center of Civil Liberties
ZMINA Human Rights Center
DIYA Human Rights Centre
National Union of Journalists of Ukraine
PLATFORM FOR THE RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS
Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union
NGO “Regional Centre for human rights”