First update: Lengthy jail terms for prisoners of conscience
On 12 November, a Russian military court found Crimean Tatar human rights defender Emir-Usein Kuku and his five co-defendants guilty of trumped-up charges. After a prolonged unfair trial, they have been given prison sentences of between seven and 19 years in jail. Emir-Usein Kuku and his co-defendants are prisoners of conscience and they should be released immediately and unconditionally.
Crimea came under Russian control following the events of February – March 2014, when Russia used its troops to occupy the peninsula and organised a “referendum” to justify the territory’s annexation, in violation of international law.
Crimean Tatars are indigenous people of Crimea who, prior to the occupation, constituted an estimated 12 percent of the peninsula’s population. Many prominent members of the Crimean Tatar community have been among the most vocal critics of the Russian occupation, and the entire community has been regarded by the de facto authorities as disloyal; and targeted with reprisals, alongside other critical voices.
Emir-Usein Kuku has been one of the most prominent Crimean Tatar human rights defenders. He faced harassment on numerous occasions, and during his arrest was subjected to beating by officers of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB). His wife and children have been subjected to threats as well.
Emir-Usein Kuku was arrested on 11 February 2016 and charged with "organising activities of a terrorist organisation" for his alleged association with Hizb ut Tahrir, an Islamic movement, which is banned as a “terrorist” organisation in Russia but is legal in Ukraine. Emir-Usein Kuku denies any involvement with Hizb ut-Tahrir. The charges against him and his co-defendants are based on covertly acquired, and allegedly tampered, recordings of conversations, testimonies of “secret witnesses” and testimonies of Russian law enforcement officers. Emir-Usein Kuku and his co-defendants denounce this evidence as false.
Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation
Yurii Yakovlevich Chaika
Prosecutor General’s Office
ul. B. Dmitrovka, d.15a
125993 Moscow GSP- 3
Fax: +7 495 987 5841 / +7 495 692 1725