Joint statement of Ukrainian human rights organizations about a threat to the life of Bekir Degermendzhi due to the failure to provide necessary medical attention

On December 14, 2017, at three o’clock in the morning, 57-year-old Crimean Tatar activist Bekir Degermendzhi, who was put in the Simferopol SIZO [pre-trial detention center] and accused of supposed extortion according to a fabricated case, was taken to an emergency department.

Bekir Degermendzhi is a disabled person of the third group; he suffers from bronchial asthma. Currently, Mr. Degermendzhi’s health state is severe due to pulmonary edema and cardiac failure. At the moment, he is put in a medically induced coma and is on a mechanical ventilator of the lungs. According to information received from his relatives and lawyer, the prisoner is at the 7the city hospital of Simferopol where he is unconscious and kept in handcuffs. The wife of Mr. Degermendzhi and his lawyer are not allowed to enter his ward; three de facto police officers wait in front of the ward; a large number of so-called law-enforcers – near the hospital. During the past five days, Bekir Degermendzhi could not sleep because of acute asthma. His lawyer required hospitalization and medical treatment, but the de facto court dismissed the request of the attorney. On December 6, 2017, the de facto court dismissed the appeal concerning the selected preventive measure. During the trial, Bekir Degermendzhi felt bad, called for an emergency, but the arrest has not been canceled. During the hearing, the activist wore an oxygen mask.

Bekir Degermendzhi was arrested and detained on November 23, 2017, together with three other Crimean Tatars. The arrests took place as a result of a covert operation conducted by Russian security forces: de facto law enforcement officers arranged a provocation against Vedzhie Kashka and the activists, and then, with the use of brute force, the officers detained the activists in the cafe “Medobory” in the city of Simferopol. As a result of these actions, an 83-year-old veteran of the Crimean Tatar national movement Vedzhie Kashka died because of a heart attack. Four detainees (Asan Chapukh, Bekir Degermendzhi, Ruslan Trubach, Kyazim Ametov) have been prosecuted for alleged extortion. On December 6, two weeks after the arrest of Asan Chapukh, he had a minor stroke that occurred while he was in SIZO, the left side of his body became numb. Necessary medical aid has not been provided.

Mustafa Degermendzhi, a son of Bekir Degermendzhi, was arrested because the so-called “Case of February 26” in May 2015; in April 2017, the de facto court selected house arrest as a preventive measure. The trial is ongoing in his case.

We demand from the government of the Russian Federation, which controls the territory of Crimea:

  • To provide qualified medical assistance to Bekir Degermendzhi without the intervention of de facto law enforcement agencies;
  • To immediately change the preventive measure for Bekir Degermendzhi to milder, non-custodial;
  • To immediately change the preventive measure to other persons accused due to the so-called “extortion case”;
  • To inspect the materials of the so-called “extortion case” in the shortest possible period of time for fabrication and to close this criminal case;
  • To investigate the facts and bring to justice those responsible for the illegal persecution of Mr. Degermendzhi and other accused in this case.

We appeal to the Government of Ukraine and of other states, as well as to international organizations, to monitor Bekir Degermendzhi’s health state and to facilitate the provision of qualified medical assistance and his release, as well as to hold a fair hearing of charges against him and other accused persons.

We appeal to representatives of international organizations, governments of the European Union, Switzerland, USA and Canada:

  • To monitor Bekir Degermendzhi’s health state and accused in politically motivated criminal case – the so-called alleged “extortion case”, as well as the course of other politically motivated criminal cases;
  • To promote the provision of qualified medical assistance to Bekir Degermendzhi, in particular, to request from the Russian Federation to allow providing medical assistance by an international group of independent doctors to Bekir Degermendzhi and other political prisoners in need of medical care;
  • To make public statements to the Russian Federation requesting the immediate provision of quality and complete medical care to Bekir Degermendzhi and other political prisoners in need of such assistance.

Tamila Tasheva, Co-founder and Coordinator of NGO “CrimeaSOS”

Oleksandr Pavlichenko, Executive Director of UHHRU

Olha Skrypnyk, Chairman of the Board of the Crimean Human Rights Group

Oleksandra Romantsova, Deputy of the Chairman of the Board of the  Center for Civil Liberties

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