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Lutfie Zudieva: “We defended everyone that day”

January 12, 2018 16:10 0 872 QirimInfro
Lutfie Zudieva is a director of the children center “Elif”, an activist. She has also been a civic defender within the judicial process over the single piquet participants, taking place on December 18, 2017.

On October 14, 2017 86 Crimeans come out to the streets all over Crimea with the banners “Crimean Tatars, Crimean Muslims are not terrorists”. Lately the occupation authorities more often uses administrative prosecution for civic activity manifestation  and participation rallies. Soon, administrative cases against them were initiated which lead to mass court hearings on December 18. The majority were sentenced to fines, the total fine about 1 000 000 RUB. QirimInfo talked to Lutfie why she choice to be a civic defender in the court.

A decision to become a civic defender of two inhabitants of Dzhankoi district, Mustafa Murahas and Ayder Suleimanov, was important for me, but it was not unexpected both for my family and for myself.

In 2014 when everything had changed at once, the Crimean Tatars lived on standby for several months. In fact Russia invaded Crimea. What was next? Would the mistakes committed by NKVD and KGB be fixed or would everything be repeated by FSB. We have historical memory, tears and pain were passed with the genes. Many of our elders knew from the beginning that the situation would develop according to the second scenario. Perhaps, they clearly saw the mindset of these people.

We, the younger generation, understood everything later. Notably that happened at the day when the brutally tortured and murdered Reshat Ametov was found. His murder investigation hardly have any progress. I remember the same feeling when I watched the interview of Ervin Ibrahimov’s father Umer Ibrahimov and felt that my hand tuned into the fist because of men tears.

One day early morning I received a call from Yalta from my friend. There was a search in her house, the security forces broke the windows during the search, and beat glasses fell on her sleeping children. Another picture, I always keep in my mind, is crying mother of Emil Jemadenov during a search in their house. An intelligent woman, a teacher of Russian, who brought up three sons and was completely powerless against this repressive machine.

One should to see all these to understand whom Russia shows as "terrorists" in present-day Crimea.

After that, an administrative arrest of my father followed. It was very painful for me. After a serious heart operation, he came to the search in the house of an activist Seydamet Mustafayev. My father went there, because he could not do it other way. He could not stay at home. As a result, he was sentenced to three days of arrest. Then the arrest of the 72-year-old Server Karametov followed. This arrest raised the same feeling of rage. He did not have been detained for 10 days! After there were the mass arrests in Bakhchisaray and mass single pickets as people's reaction to these resonant developments.

Before December 18 the judicial process over single piquet participants, the activists realized the lack of lawyers for defense of 86 cases around Crimea. That day Edem Sememlyaev, an attorney, represented the interests of the defendants of the so-called "February 26" case, Emil Kurbedinov, another attorney, was in the court on the case of the journalist Nikolai Semena. The remaining 4-5 lawyers were not able to attend all administrative processes the same day. So, de facto authorities probably expected that defendants would be without lawyers. The lawyers absence could be a suitable circumstance for the judges to blame illegaly the single pickets participants.

One day you feels that enough is enough. Then you understand that you would never forgive your own cowardice. In this way the idea of public defenders in the courts emerged. Obviously, there are concerns with our legal literacy. We learn in real-time regime. However, the most important is that we defended everyone that day.

I have never participated in the court hearings as a defender before. It happened that I gave testimonies or presented as an audience, while by education I am just a teacher. Laughing I told the other public defenders that I was thinking about the movie “Law abiding citizen” during the court. Also, I was a prize-winning student at the Republic contests on jurisprudence in the school time. Many years later it comes in handy.

I did not have time to prepare at all. In the morning I came to the court together with other Dzhankoy inhabitants to support the participants of single pickets. There have been 17 similar cases in the one building of district court, and that was too much. In sum there have been 2-3 rooms. To speed up the process in the evening more judges were added. It was clear that everybody would be convicted and found guilty.

At that moment, it was lack of defenders. To be honest, I had no choice. A few minutes before the hearings, I took the printed applications from another experienced defender, filled them in and entered the courtroom. And, of course, the phone guideline from the lawyer Lily Gemedzhi helped to deal with anxiety. It was very important for me to support these people.

Obviously, then there were many questions. Many people think that a life of a Muslim woman and a civil activist, a public defender, are incompatible. Now still a few people know that a woman in Islam as well as a man has the right to education, to participate in public and political life, electoral right, the right to professional activity. Most people perceive a hijab as a symbol of religious oppression and violation of women's rights, or even as a threat to their own safety. Many people think that Islam turns a woman into a dependent who cannot live without a man.

Indeed, we are protected by our fathers and husbands. Women are under the custody of men. But, if man are not nearby or their efforts are not enough, we are able to act as independent civilian units. Even if such situation occurs, you understand that you are under protection of men-friends and men-co-religionists. In general, the present-day situation in Crimea is a good opportunity to destroy the stereotypes.

When such resonant politically motivated cases are considered in courts, we do not expect the non-biased independent court sentence. Everyone understands that the sentence is prepared not in the advisory room and they are not resulted from the judicial proceedings. Much depends on political will and understanding of the situation by those who are in power. Nowadays all security services and courts in Crimea work in total synergy. Their main goal is to intimidate.

Regarding the case on pickets on October 14, On December 18 10 district courts tried the Crimean Tatars for the right to express their civil position. Thus, the system demonstrates that everyone, who date to going out to a single picket, would be also tried. As for more brave, the Russian Federation would charge them with "extremism", "terrorism", "separatism". In this way, both the picketers and defenders do not expect anything from the decision of the Appeal Court. This will be another illustrative fake trial.

I think, the Russian security services have not yet properly assessed, especially have not understood, the Muslim mentality and the Crimean Tatars collective spirit. So, in Crimea they cannot come up with anything better than to deal with the non-violent resistance of the Crimean Tatars by force.

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