Statement of Human Rights Organizations Regarding Conviction of Nariman Dzelial and the Akhtemov Brothers in Occupied Crimea

Statement of Human Rights Organizations Regarding Conviction of Nariman Dzelial and the Akhtemov Brothers in Occupied Crimea
Nariman Dzelial and Akhtemov Brothers. Photo: Crimean Solidarity

On September 21, 2022, the so-called "Supreme Court of the Republic of Crimea" announced the conviction of three Crimean political prisoners: Nariman Dzhelial, the first deputy of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, journalist Asan Akhtemov and his cousin Aziz Akhtemov. The "Board of Judges" chaired by ‘judge’ Viktor Zinkov found them guilty of allegedly committing sabotage on the gas pipeline and smuggling and storing explosives, and sentenced Nariman Dzhelial to 17 years in custody and a fine of RUR700,000, Asan Akhtemov to 15 years and a fine of RUR500,000, Aziz Akhtemov – to 13 years and a fine of RUR500,000.

In the occupation, Mr.Dzhelial has been the highest official of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People on the peninsula. He has continued to fight for human rights in Crimea, despite the arrests of Mejlis leaders and danger for him personally. Thanks to Nariman Dzhelial’s activity, Ukraine and the world have learned about intimidation, politically motivated persecution, arbitrary arrests, torture and other illegal actions of the occupation administration in Crimea.

On August 23, 2021, a few days prior to his arrest, Nariman Dzhelial attended the Founding Summit of the Crimea Platform and publicly participated in the opening of the National Office of the Crimea Platform in Kyiv.

On September 3-4, 2021, the Russian Federation Federal Security Service (FSB) men, having made searches in the occupied Crimea, detained Aziz Akhtemov, Nariman Dzhelial, Asan Akhtemov and two more Crimean Tatars and moved them to an unknown direction. The detentions might be defined as forced disappearances: the whereabouts of the detainees remained unknown for a long time, their relatives submitted applications to the occupation authorities about abduction. Having been detained, Nariman Dzhelial was handcuffed, with a bag on his head, for a whole day and subjected to severe psychological pressure, while Asan and Aziz Akhtemovs were tortured with electric current. After such threats and torture the FSB men forced them to confess to sabotage on the gas pipeline.

We, Ukrainian human rights organizations, are convinced that the arrest of Nariman Dzhelial and the Akhtemov brothers is revenge of the occupying power for the Founding Summit of the Crimea Platform held by Ukraine, the first international format which purpose is the de-occupation of the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol. Moreover, the Russian security men were explicit telling Nariman Dzhelial that the real reason for his detention was his attendance of the Crimea Platform Summit.

Today, while the zone of hostilities and war crimes committed by Russians on the mainland of Ukraine is in major focus of the international community, the number of political prisoners in the occupied Crimea is steadily increasing and the methods of repression are becoming more and more brutal. As of today, at least 146 people are subject to politically motivated criminal persecution in Crimea, including 97 who have been sentenced already for 1,203 years and 2 months in total.

We reiterate that political repressions and mass atrocities by the Russian occupiers in Crimea and on the mainland of Ukraine could have been avoided if the international community had reacted decisively to the Russian attempt to annex Crimea and invade Donbas in 2014.

With the Russian Federation have been disregarding for years almost all norms of international law, the only way to stop arbitrariness and to release political prisoners, to prevent new war crimes, crimes against humanity and gross violations of human rights in Crimea is the speedy de-occupation of the peninsula with the help of available diplomatic, sanction and legal measures, including the right to individual self-defense, provided for in Art. 51 of the UN Charter, and the restoration of Ukrainian power on its territory.

Relating to this, we call on the governments of foreign states and international organizations, in particular the participants of the International Crimea Platform, to:

  • increase comprehensive, including military, support for Ukraine aimed at de-occupying all territories of Ukraine, including the Crimean peninsula, since de-occupation is a prerequisite for the protection and restoration of human rights in Crimea;
  • express a strong consolidated protest against the conviction of Nariman Dzhelial, Asan Akhtemov and Aziz Akhtemov in this fake criminal case;
  • introduce personal sanctions against persons involved in the repressions against Nariman Dzhelial, Asan Akhtemov, Aziz Akhtemov and other persons, including FSB men, judges, investigators, prosecutors, etc.;
  • support comprehensively Nariman Dzhelial, Asan Akhtemov, Aziz Akhtemov and other victims of political repressions in Crimea, their families and lawyers;
  • keep on monitoring and documenting human rights violations, war crimes and crimes against humanity in the occupied Crimea, and include them in regular reports on the human rights situation in Ukraine;
  • assist the Government of Ukraine in the investigation of war crimes, crimes against humanity and gross violations of human rights in the occupied Crimea;
  • enhance diplomatic, sanction and other pressure on the Russian Federation in order to prevent new atrocities in the occupied Crimea and the mainland of Ukraine and to speed up the de-occupation of all territories of Ukraine;
  • maximize the use of the Crimea platform instrument, the mechanisms of the UN, the Council of Europe, the OSCE and other international organizations to speed up the release of Crimean political prisoners, to effectively respond to human rights violations in occupied Crimea, and to advance the de-occupation of all territories of Ukraine;
  • contribute to the extension of the International Crimea Platform membership list, with the involvement of the countries of the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.

Appeals signed:

01. CRIMEA SOS
02. Crimean Human Rights Group
03. Center for Civic Liberties
04. DIYA Human Right Center
05. ZMINA Human Rights Center
06. Association of Relatives Kremlin Political Prisoners’
07. PLATFORM FOR POLITICAL PRISONERS RELEASE
08. Regional Center for Human Rights
09. ALMENDA Civic Education Center
10. Human Rights House CRIMEA
11. Educational Human Rights House – CHERNIHIV
12. “GROUP OF INFLUENCE” Civil Holding” NGO
13. UMDPL Association
14. VOSTOK SOS Charity Fund
15. AKHALAR Center
16. DONBAS SOS NGO
17. Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union
18. PEN Ukraine
September 21, 2022
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