Yesterday, on September 7, the regular hearing of the four persons involved in the so-called "case of Hizb ut-Tahrir" took place in Rostov-on-Don. This is the first trial of the case. In general, 14 people were detained on charges of involvement in the "Hizb ut-Tahrir" in occupied Crimea.
The accused themselves deny any involvement in the party and call this case politically motivated. Despite this, the Russian prosecutor demanded for them a sentence from 7 to 17 years in prison. Pronouncement of the verdict will take place on September 7.
"Case of Hizb ut-Tahrir" is the most massive manifestation of Russian repressions in Crimea. For those who do not quite understand what was going on, QirimInfo answers the questions who are the members of Hizb ut-Tahrir, what they want and how terrorism is relevant.
Hizb ut-Tahrir is an Islamic political party, founded in the early 1950s in East Jerusalem. Initially the party cells have been established in the Muslim-majority states. However, the "Hizb ut-Tahrir" in the 1980s began to create its branches in Western countries, where large Muslim communities were.
Despite the fact that the organization calls itself the party, it does not participate in any elections, and often performs with calls to boycott them. According to various sources, the party operates in dozens of countries around the world, and the number of its members is up to 1 million people.
The statute of the party states that its purpose is "the resumption of the Islamic way of life by establishing the Caliphate state". In practice, it looks like this: party members give lectures in private apartments, distribute leaflets, newspapers and other propaganda materials about the ideas of "Hizb ut-Tahrir". Dissemination of information about the party being active in social networks.
Party members believe that the restoration of the Caliphate will happen first in one country, according to their forecasts, somewhere in North Africa or the Middle East and Southeast Asia. After that, the party's mission would be met, and further problems in the Islamic way of life will have to engage the authorities of Caliphate themselves.
According to Ukrainian law – not.
In Russia Hizb ut-Tahrir is in the list of terrorist organizations of the Supreme Court decision in 2003. However, there is no terrorist act, arranged by members of Hizb ut-Tahrir. Yes, the main goal of the party is the establishment of the Caliphate. However, Hizb ut-Tahrir seeks to it by non-violent means, by means of political and ideological work.
"The method of Hizb ut-Tahrir does not change with a change in the political situation, so events in the world and Ukraine do not have any influence on the method of Hizb ut-Tahrir", – it is said on the official website of Ukrainian Party cell. At the same time, the ideology of Hizb ut-Tahrir does not accept some of the fundamental European values. It is clear that the construction of the Caliphate is incompatible with a democratic form of government and religious freedoms. In Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Hizb ut-Tahrir is declared as extremist organization. In Germany, its prohibition is connected with the denial of the party of Israel's right to existence.
Most often the members of “Hibz-ut-Tahrir” are accused of endangering the constitutional order, by which calls for the establishment of the Caliphate are usually meant. In some cases they are accused of the organization of a criminal community, the dissemination of printed materials containing extremist ideas.
Hizb ut-Tahrir is not in the list of foreign terrorist organizations, which the US State Department makes. However, the US State Department report on terrorism in 2009 says as follows: "Extremist groups such as Hizb ut-Tahrir, inflame anti-Semitic, anti-Western ideology that may indirectly generate support for terrorism".
According to the report of the Moscow Carnegie Center for the 2015, party members in Russia are mostly young people aged between 18 and 30 of different ethnic backgrounds. So in recent years, the proportion of ethnic Muslims had fallen to 50%. On the contrary, the number of Slavs (Russian and Ukrainian) increased to 40%.
The members of the party are mostly people with higher education, professionals, doctors, employees of the banking sector. Young members of the organization are mostly the children of wealthy parents. The members of "Hizb ut-Tahrir" recruit people of different social status, particularly illegal immigrants from South-East Asia. The same report says that in this way the party members expect to find support among the various social groups, including those who are dissatisfied with their social status in the society.
In Crimea, in a region of compact residence of Muslims, mostly Crimean Tatars, representatives of Hizb ut-Tahrir appeared in the mid-1990s. They were mostly students or people looking for a job. Mostly they came from Central Asia, particularly Uzbekistan. They were already members of Hizb ut-Tahrir and actively engaged in spreading the ideas of the party among the local population by the time of their arrival to Crimea.
Prior to the annexation of Crimea, most members of the party were already local Muslims. At that time, experts estimated their number on the peninsula till thousands of people, but it was not possible to calculate more precisely. Party members among the first left Crimea in 2014 fearing persecutions by the occupation authorities.
Spiritual Administration of Muslims of Crimea related to proliferation of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Crimea sharply negative, as to the manifestation of non-traditional for the Crimean Tatars Islam. Part of the Crimean Tatar people perceived them as sectarians. At the same time, the attitude of the Ukrainian authorities to the party can be called neutral.
Russia is now pursuing 14 Crimean Muslims, who are suspected of supporting the activities of Hizb ut-Tahrir. They are charged with Article 205.5 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation – "organizing activities of a terrorist organization and participation in the activities of such an organization".
At the same time there is no slightest evidence which would indicate the preparation of terrorist acts by the defendants or the desire to seize power. In fact, they want to imprison the detained Muslims up to 17 years for belonging to Hizb ut-Tahrir. That is all.
However, the prosecutor does not have convincing evidence of the fact that detained people were the members of Hizb ut-Tahrir. They do not recognize their guilt themselves. According to the internal rules of the organization, it is forbidden to deny belonging to it, but it is allowed to refuse to answer this question in the case of the arrest of the members of Hizb ut-Tahrir.
The accusation is often consists of literature found during a search, innocuous records of conversations that are interpreted strictly in an advantageous manner for the accusations and interrogations of secret witnesses. The presence of last ones is particularly interesting: the witness is out of the courtroom and speaks in altered voice. In Russian reality, it means that anyone can be accused of terrorism based on the testimony of such a "witness".
Most fully the reasons for this recognition human rights center "Memorial" explained, which recognized the first four political prisoners arrested in the case of Hizb ut-Tahrir as the political prisoners.
Firstly, they are accused of terrorism, despite the absence of an act or part of such offence. Defendants did not prepare a terrorist attack and did not voice any threats. They are tried only on the basis of conversations about religion and politics.
Secondly, the duration and conditions of detention are disproportionate to public danger.
Thirdly, Russia can not substitute criminal legislation existing at the time of the annexation of Crimea by their own. And there is no ban on activities of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Ukrainian legislation.
Selective activity of Crimean security forces against Crimean Tatars on the peninsula allows to speak about the persecution on ethnic grounds and strategy of extrusion of the Crimean Tatars from Crimea. And persecution of alleged members of Hizb ut-Tahrir is clearly one of the aspects of this strategy.
Under the pretext of combating Hizb ut-Tahrir, Russia can deal shortly with any disagreeable Muslims. For example, one of the detained Crimean Tatars Emir-Usein Kuku is human rights activist known in Crimea.
At the same time, the label of Islamic radicals which Russia put on the detainees in the case of Hizb ut-Tahrir, deters many potential defenders. One of the lawyers of detained Emil Kurbedinov spoke about it: "We often encounter even in the environment of human rights defenders with a certain barrier in relation to this category of cases. As soon as it is about Hizb ut-Tahrir and the Islamic factor, some human rights activists stand apart from it, unfortunately, this labelling works".
Finally, there is no guarantees that Russia will not want to use the factor of Hizb ut-Tahrir in a hybrid war against Ukraine. For example, having tied them in some way to the ISIS. A story about Ukrainian "saboteurs" in Crimea, told by Russia, is, in fact, accusation of Ukraine of readiness to terrorist methods of struggle. In the next stage of this information war, drafted to avert the Western partners to support Ukraine, an abbreviation of ISIS frightening the whole civilized world can appear.