Tajikistan: Crackdown on opposition ahead of presidential elections

Press release
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On 4 November 2013, Umeddzhon Tojiev, an activist from one of Tajikistan’s major opposition parties allegedly threw himself out of the third floor window of a police station following interrogation. He had been arrested on 30 October for ’insubordination to police officers’.

The incident took place just two days before the presidential elections, due to be held on Wednesday, 6 November. Incumbent president, Emomali Rahmon, in power since 1992, is bound to be re-elected for another 7-year term. The case of Mr Tojiev exemplifies the plight of members of the opposition in Tajikistan, who are reportedly harassed, threatened, detained and prosecuted in closed trials.

Zaid Saidov, a former minister who announced his intention to create a new political party in April 2013, is currently being subjected to a closed trial. In May 2013 he was detained and now faces a series of charges, including polygamy and rape. In April 2013 the deputy leader of Tajikistan’s Islamic Renaissance Party was attacked in Dushanbe by unknown assailants. In May 2013, Sherik Karamkhudoev of the same party, was sentenced to 14 years in prison for “founding an organised criminal group”.

“The authorities of Tajikistan must reverse their policy of suppressing the opposition, non-governmental organisations and the press”, said FIDH President Karim Lahidji. “Tajikistan faces enormous challenges, such as poverty, unemployment and the consequences of mass labour emigration. In order to solve these problems the authorities need to work with the people of Tajikistan in a climate of trust and respect for human rights”, he added.

Of the population of 7.6 million, an estimated 1 to 2 million people work abroad, mostly in Russia. Migrant remittances are estimated to constitute 40 to 50% of the country’s GDP. In October 2011 FIDH and its member organisation ADC Memorial published a report Tajikistan: Exporting the workforce – at what price? This report analysed the exploitation of Tajik migrant workers in Russia and the impact of high emigration on Tajikistan. In June 2013 a FIDH/ADC Memorial mission visited Tajikistan to investigate institutional and legal changes, as well as the new challenges faced by Tajik migrant workers and their families. The mission observed that measures taken thus far have not led to significant changes in the situation of migrant workers and fall short of what is needed to ensure effective protection.

FIDH also closely monitors the state of civil and political rights in Tajikistan. In July 2013 FIDH and a coalition of NGOs from Tajikistan participated in the 108th session of the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva. In its concluding observations the Committee made recommendations echoing concerns raised by FIDH and its partners, in particular on freedom of expression, internet freedom, freedom of association and the registration of NGOs.

In November 2012 the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders strongly condemned the arbitrary closure of the association of young lawyers “Amparo”. This human rights organisation was a member of the Coalition Against Torture, and very active in investigating cases of torture and ill-treatment, as well as in monitoring and advocating for the rights of vulnerable groups in Tajikistan. “Amparo” remains closed.

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