Mustafa Dzhemilev Continues his Hunger Strike (Part Two)

posted 1 Feb 2016, 08:05 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 1 Feb 2016, 08:06 ]
“Did you see your Mustafa, then, so small and thin?” 

As a protest against the trumped-up charges brought against him (see Voices from the Past (No. 7): Mustafa Dzhemilev, Part 1) Mustafa Dzhemilev continued his hunger strike. It would be constantly halted and resumed over the following ten months, during which time he was moved to a prison in Siberia. As he explained to his alarmed supporters (Andrei Sakharov, Yelena Bonner Pyotr and Zinaida Grigorenko) and to his family, on hunger-strike he was kept in solitary confinement, thereby avoiding the stool-pigeons and provocateurs who would otherwise be put in his cell. 

By the time he came to trial his physical condition was appalling. As described by those who travelled to Omsk to support him there, and in Lydia Chukovskaya’s graphic denunciation by (“The Face of Inhumanity” CCE 40.3 (a)), Dzhemilev stood with difficulty and found it hard to speak after months of force-feeding. The verdict at his trial in May 1976 (CCE 40.3) was a foregone conclusion. The event was dramatic, nevertheless. 

In court a fellow convict, Vladimir Dvoryansky, also aged 26, refuted all the testimony he had given against Dzhemilev under threats and intimidation, while both Andrei Sakharov and Yelena Bonner were taken from the courtroom to the police station. 
Dzhemilev was given two and a half years’ in a strict-regime corrective labour camp and sent yet further east, to serve his sentence in the Maritime Region of the Soviet Far East, several thousand miles from his family in Uzbekistan (CCE 42.4). This vindictive treatment, bearing no relation to due judicial process, was the subject of the first of many documents (CCE 41.8) drawn up and distributed by the newly-formed Moscow Helsinki Group. 

Forty years later Mustafa Dzhemilev would appeal, as his friends had once done, to Nadia Savchenko, the Ukrainian air-force pilot imprisoned in Moscow, to halt her hunger strike. 

Foreword and annotation by John Crowfoot 

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Source: A Chronicle of Current Events, 31 December 1975, Issue 38