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Imprisoned Tatar Muslim On Hunger Strike, Protesting Prison Conditions, 'Pressure'


Airat Shakirov is said to be refusing to eat any kind of solid food and only accepting water.

A Tatar Muslim man serving a prison term for being a member of an Islamic group banned in Russia has gone on hunger strike to protest prison conditions and what his mother called "pressure" imposed by the prison's administration.

Gulnara Karimova told RFE/RL on November 22 that her son, Airat Shakirov, who is in a penal colony in the northwestern region of Vologda, had been on a hunger strike since November 8.

According to Karimova, her son is refusing to eat any kind of solid food and is only accepting water.

Karimova also said that Shakirov is being sent periodically and unjustly to solitary confinement, the so-called Unified Premises Of Cell Type (EPKT), a facility used by prison guards in Russia to punish inmates who break the internal regulations of correctional institutions.

"They want to break him, to force him to join the so-called "reds" [inmates who agree to cooperate with prison guards and are despised by other inmates as they are considered informants]," she said.

"Because he refuses to collaborate with the prison administration, they retaliate and put him in solitary confinement on a regular basis," Karimova said, adding that prison officials had refused to give her documents explaining why her son was being kept in a solitary confinement when she visited him earlier in November.

The administration of the Correctional Colony No.12 in the Sheksna district, where Shakirov is serving his term, was not immediately available for comments.

The Violga Regional Court in the city of Samara sentenced Shakirov to 18 years in prison in 2017 after finding him guilty of being a member of the Hizb ut-Tahrir Islamic group, which was banned in Russia and whose supporters were branded by Moscow as "extremists" in 2003.

Hizb ut-Tahrir is a global organization based in London that seeks to unite all Muslim countries into an Islamic caliphate. Its members insist the group is peaceful.

Violations of inmates' rights in Russia, including torture, have been raised by right defenders for years.

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