“Hostages of the Occupation”: Zarema Zekiryaeva, the wife of the political prisoner Server Zekiryaev (photo)

June 17, 2020

After the occupation of Crimea, the Russian Federation launched mass repressions against the representatives of the indigenous Crimean Tatar people on the peninsula. Server Zekiryaev is one of 60 Crimean Tatars whom the occupation authorities accuse of involvement in the “Hizb ut-Tahrir” organization. Moreover, he is a father of 13 children, who really miss him now. All the talks in this house are only about dad … We suggest you to get acquainted with the history of Zekiryaev’s family, which was prepared by the Crimean Tatar Resource Center in the frame of the project “Hostages of the Occupation”.

The father of 13 children (the youngest daughter Aisha was born after his arrest), political prisoner Server Zekiryaev worked for eighteen years as a physical education teacher in school. In order to ensure a decent life for his large family, he began to grow and sell flowers. He loves his children very much. Now they really miss their father. The morning in the family begins with children's stories about how they saw a dad in their dreams, how they walk with him outdoors, how they save him from imprisonment. They show the letters they wrote to him, the drawings they will give him. And so on until the evening. All the talks in this house are only about dad. All dreams are only about meeting him, about his imminent return.

“Server was more of a mom than me. He managed to work and take care of the children, give them injections, enemas, tell interesting stories, talk with them. He knew how to find a special approach to every child, how to find time for each child”, says Zarema Zekiryaeva.

The criminal case under article 278 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (violent seizure of power or forced retention of power) against the father of 13 children seems absurd. Both Zarema and all their children believe that one day their father will return. All dads will return to their children.

Project manager: Zarema Bariieva
Author of pictures: Lieniara Abibulaieva
Text writer: Alemkhan Sary
Translation into English: Zarema Bariieva

We remind that on February 26 in Kyiv, the presentation of the album and the exhibition “Hostages of the Occupation” took place, which tell us about the fate of 20 Crimean Tatar families after the annexation of the peninsula. On March 10, the exhibition opened in Vinnytsia. The exhibition is expected to be presented in Lviv and Dnipro as well.

The project was prepared by the Crimean Tatar Resource Center with the support of the Democracy Grants Program of the US Embassy to Ukraine.