32.9 The Persecution of the Crimean Tatars

No 32 : 17 July 1974

The Arrest and Hunger-Strike of Mustafa Dzhemilev

On 22 June Mustafa Dzhemilev was arrested in the town of Gulistan (Uzbekistan).

On 6 July the Action Group of the Crimean Tatar national movement in the Syrdarinskaya Region of Uzbekistan sent a statement entitled “The Life of Mustafa Dzhemilev is in Danger” to [Soviet “president”] N. V. Podgorny, [UN Secretary General] K. Waldheim, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, and to world public opinion.

As is evident from this statement, on 13 May, a few days before the 30th anniversary of the Deportation of the Crimean Tatars, an attempt was made to provoke Dzhemilev into a fight. Despite his self-restraint, confirmed by four written testimonies, he was sentenced to 15 days “for hooliganism”.

Mustafa Dzhemilev declared a hunger strike and was released on the ninth day in a serious condition.

A month later, when Dzhemilev had not yet fully recovered, he was summoned for military service. A medical commission ruled him fit although, according to the information of the Action Group, pressure had to be put on one of the doctors — a general practitioner — to obtain this. Dzhemilev was not allowed to undergo a second examination in Tashkent or to present certificates from the Tashkent polyclinic where he was receiving treatment. He was ordered to appear with his things in two hours. He did not comply with this order and was arrested the following day for evading military service.

On the same day Dzhemilev started another hunger strike.

The statement reads:

The life of Mustafa is in danger!

It has become known to us that on 27 June M. Dzhemilev was refused admission to the prison in Khavasta, to which had been taken, because of the serious condition of his health. Once again he has been placed in a preliminary detention cell in Gulistan. Evidently fearing the consequences in the event of his death, the KGB has attempted to influence him through his parents, trying to persuade him to end his hunger strike. Mustafa has categorically refused to do this, stating that he would rather accept death than suffer daily humiliation …

On 30 June, Dzhemilev was transported to the pre-trial detention centre in Tashkent, where he is being subjected to force-feeding.

The Action Group calls for the immediate intervention of N. V. Podgorny to save M. Dzhemilev’s life; and it supports the request of his parents to let him leave the USSR.

On 3 July Mustafa Dzhemilev’s mother sent a letter to N. V. Podgorny, which was also addressed “to mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, governments and parliaments throughout the world”.

When her family was deported in inhuman conditions from the Crimea in 1944, she writes, Mustafa was not even a year old. Yet in his early youth he said he would not reconcile himself to the persecuted condition of his people. Twice Mustafa expressed a desire to leave for another country. She had opposed this, but now, especially after his unjustified arrests in May and June and the hunger strike that was endangering his life, she and her husband had decided to give their blessing to his departure. “We beg you to let our son go abroad and to let us die in peace. We do not have the strength to bear our son’s torments.”

Addressing the governments of other countries, M. Dzhemilev’s mother asks them to send an invitation to her son and give him refuge.The address of Dzhemilev’s parents is: Abdudzhemil and Makhfire Mustafayev, 16 Oktyabrskaya Street, Gulistan [Uzbekistan].

His father is 77 and his mother 64.

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MUSTAFA DZHEMILEV has been an active participant in the Crimean Tatar national movement since 1966. That year he was convicted and sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment. In May 1969 he joined the Action Group for the Defence of Human Rights in the USSR (CCE 8.10).

In summer 1969 Mustafa was arrested. In January 1970, together with the Moscow poet and teacher Ilya Gabai, Dzhemilev was sentenced in Tashkent to three years imprisonment (CCE 12.3). A. D. Sakharov and the Action Group for the Defence of Human Rights (T, Velikanova, S. Kovalyov, A. Krasnov-Levitin, G. Podyapolsky and T. Khodorovich) have sent the two above-mentioned documents about M. Dzhemilev to the International League for the Rights of Man, the International Red Cross, and K. Waldheim, calling on them to intervene on his behalf as quickly as possible. In the middle of July 1974 M. Dzhemilev was put on trial and sentenced to one year’s imprisonment.

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[See “Mustafa Dzhemilev has not been released”, 30 September 1975, CCE 37.1]