Riza Izetov

Riza Izetov

“When they were taking my husband away, our four-year-old daughter asked him where he was going. Riza answered that he was going to go far-far away, to earn a lot of money, and then to come back home. And when we came out of the house, one of those Federal Security Service officers turned to the child and said, ‘We are taking your father to a prison. You’ll never see him again,” recounts the wife of political prisoner Riza Izetov, Zeineb Yazyndzhiieva, during a conversation with volunteers of the #PrisonersVoice campaign. “Even today, when our child sees them or the police somewhere in the town, she gets very frightened and asks, ‘Did they come for someone again? Will they take someone away again?”

Riza Izetov is a human rights advocate and activist from the Crimean Solidarity initiative. He was arrested on March 27, 2019. Riza is one of the defendants in the “Hizb ut-Tahrir case” (the second Simferopol group) accused of “organizing activities of a terrorist group” and “participation in activities of a terrorist organization”. Riza Izetov is facing a sentence of 20 years to life in prison.

Zeineb Yazyndzhiieva recalls that she was eight months pregnant at the time of that search and Riza’s arrest. Their son is now over a year old, and father and son have still never seen each other except through photos..

“They came to our place at five in the morning, forced their way in through the windows and doors. My husband asked them to wait till the women got dressed,” Zeineb recounts from that day. “About 17 uniformed officers with masks and assault rifles entered our house. They began to throw everything about.”

When the persecution of Crimean Tatars began in Crimea, Riza became a human rights defender. “He went to the places that were searched, then he began to go to court rooms where he gradually started to defend people, having earned a law degree. He was watched, he noticed that the same car was following him for weeks,” Zeineb Yazyndzhiieva says.

Currently, Riza Izetov is being kept in Simferopol Pre-Trial Detention Facility №1. “The cells are barely ventilated, there are a lot of people, the water supply is irregular, there are cockroaches, and prisoners are rarely allowed to go out for a walk,” Zeineb says.

“One needs to understand that they are treating us illegally. Our husbands are not guilty of anything”, Zeineb says.