Activism, Central Asia, Europe, Side Feature

Russia’s Fight against Hizb ut Tahrir Escalates

The Russian authorities apparently decided not to release members of Hizb ut Tahrir from prisons anymore, fabricating new criminal sentences against them and adding new sentences to the already huge sentences of imprisonment. Now Muslims convicted of participating in the party are effectively imprisoned for life, regardless of the length of time indicated in their already unfair sentences.

If earlier criminal cases were fabricated under the article “participation” or “organizing the activities of an organization recognized as a terrorist” in order to put them in jail for many years 15-20-25 years, now, in relation to those Hizb members who did not abandon their convictions, did not want to slander the party and showed steadfastness on this path – more and more often fabrication of new criminal cases is used already in prisons on similar charges, or on charges of “justifying terrorist activities” or “complicity in terrorist activities”. Sometimes even a conversation with inmates about the essence of the charge brought is interpreted by the investigation as “justification of terrorist activity”.

Thus, in relation to Khafizov Asgat, previously sentenced to more than 19 years in prison for participating in Hizb ut Tahrir, a new trumped-up criminal case is currently underway on a similar charge of “participation in an organization recognized as a terrorist”. No one doubts what decision the court will make.

The situation is similar with 28-year-old Zokirzhon Ismanov. He was convicted illegally in 2017 to 6 years of imprisonment, of which he had 1 year to serve. But in October 2020, the 1st Eastern District Military Court, at a retreat in Barnaul, considered a new, fabricated criminal case on charges of “propaganda of a terrorist organization.” To the 6-year term that he already had, he was added another nine years. As a result, 15 years turned out, the first five of them Zokirjon must spend in the most severe conditions – in prison, in a cell, and not like ordinary criminals – in a correctional colony. He disagreed with this new charge and appealed to the Court of Appeal. The military court of appeal predictably upheld the unfair verdict.

This, most likely, is not a complete list of those members of Hizb against whom, earning titles and positions, the FSB officers, together with the FSIN officers, fabricate new criminal cases.

At the same time, on February 18, the FSB reported that it had conducted searches and arrests of party members in 10 regions of Russia and Crimea, and that criminal cases had been opened against 7 of them, keeping silent about the content of the charge. At the same time, shots of confiscated Islamic literature were shown, and much of this, until recently, was in free sale. They also showed footage of seized weapons next to Islamic literature, as well as the removal of weapons from caches and the detonation of explosives by explosives technicians. From a propaganda point of view, the footage is assembled in this way for a clear association of Islam with terrorist attacks in the viewer. Allah in the Quran said about such people:

[وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ لَا تُفْسِدُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ قَالُوا إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ مُصْلِحُونَ]

“When they are told, “Do not spread corruption in the land,” they reply, “We are only peace-makers!” [TMQ 2:11].

At the same time, it should also be noted that Russian human rights activists are increasingly raising questions about the legality of recognizing the party as a terrorist organization by the decision of the RF Armed Forces of February 14, 2003. There are more and more voices talking about the absurdity of the persecution of hundreds of people for the Islamic call.

Written for the Central Media Office of Hizb ut Tahrir by
Shaikhetdin Abdullah