Remzi Bekirov

Remzi Bekirov

“We have three small children. When Remzi used to come home from work in the evening, he had a special hug ceremony with the children - they all hugged for half an hour,” says Khalide Bekirova.

Remzi Bekirov, a civic journalist of the “Crimean Solidarity” initiative, covered searches, arrests, and trials of Crimean Tatars and pro-Ukrainian activists in occupied Crimea.

"On March 27, 2019, our home was searched. They turned the whole house upside down. It is not known what they were looking for, because there have never been drugs or weapons in the houses of Crimean Tatars,” Khalide Bekirova recalls that day. “Remzi was not at home that morning; he was in Rostov. Together with other activists he often went there to court hearings as a journalist, and was also bringing care packages to political prisoners. My husband and several other activists were detained on March 28 in Rostov while they were having lunch in a cafe.”

“They were taken to the forest, where they were hit on their legs and head, and had their kidneys severely beaten,” says Khalide. “Later, they were taken to the Simferopol court. And there, without their lawyers and without our knowledge, they were remanded in custody. Immediately after the trial, they were flown back to Rostov, where they spent six months in jail.”

Now Remzi Bekirov is in the Simferopol pre-trial detention center. As the lawyer of the political prisoner Edem Semedliaiev told journalists, the conditions of their stay in the Simferopol pre-trial detention center are terrible. “It's moldy, with old beds that cause many people to have back pain, and the lack of sunlight causes skin and tooth problems. There are far more people held in there than it is designated for. The food does not meet any standards, and there is almost no medical care. All our men have been detained in such conditions,” the lawyer told.

“The moral support of regular people helps the most,” says Khalida Bekirova. “When people say: “We know that your husband is not a terrorist, not a criminal, and that he sacrificed his freedom in this peaceful struggle against Russian repression”; these words of support give us strength to fight on.”