Monthly Archives: May 2018

FREEDOM NOW: “Tajikistan: UN Declares Detention of Opposition Leader Arbitrary; Calls for Release”

Washington, D.C.) – In response to a petition filed by Freedom Now and lawyers with the international law firm Hogan Lovells LLP, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued an opinion finding the detention of opposition leader Mahmadali Hayit by the Government of Tajikistan to be in violation of international law. The Working Group—an independent panel of five human rights experts from around the world—called for the release of Hayit.

“We welcome the Working Group’s opinion,” said Freedom Now Legal Director Kate Barth. “It has been 975 days since the Tajikistani government arrested and detained Mahmadli Hayit as part of a broader campaign to vilify peaceful political opposition parties. The highly disproportionate sentence he received violates his fundamental human rights including the right to freedom of expression. Freedom Now calls on the Tajikistani government to respect the Working Group’s opinion and immediately and unconditionally release Hayit.”

Mahmadali Hayit is the deputy chairman of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), a peaceful opposition party. Tajikistan’s efforts to discredit and dismantle the party began shortly before the March 2015 parliamentary elections when several news articles appeared in state-run newspapers that falsely accused the IRPT of terrorism. Imams at state-controlled mosques also delivered sermons denouncing the IRPT and its alleged link to terrorism.

In September 2015, the government accused IRPT members of initiating a failed coup and arrested more than a dozen of its top leaders. Hayit was arrested on September 16, 2015, despite the absence of any evidence that he or any other IRPT members were involved in the failed coup. Relatives of the detained activists informed human rights groups that the detainees were subject to torture and kept incommunicado.

On September 29, 2015, the Supreme Court banned the IRPT and ordered it to cease operations. In its ruling, the Supreme Court determined that the IRPT should be labeled as a terrorist organization, despite the lack of evidence linking it to any terrorist activities.
On February 9, 2016, the Supreme Court began hearing cases against Hayit and his colleagues. Because the charges involved national security concerns all hearings were closed to the public and took place in the Tajikistani State Committee for National Security pre-trial detention facility in Dushanbe rather than in a courtroom. Hayit’s initial lawyer was arrested before the proceedings could begin. Subsequent lawyers fled the country after receiving government threats.

The charges against Hayit and his associates included terrorism, armed rebellion, murder, public appeals to “violent change of the constitutional order,” incitement to racial and religious hatred, and organization of a criminal group. On June 2, 2016, the Supreme Court of Tajikistan sentenced Hayit to life in prison.

In its opinion, the Working Group found that the Government of Tajikistan had committed numerous violations of international law in arresting and detaining Hayit. It determined that Tajikistan violated his rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and participation in public affairs. In addition to affirming the right of Hayit to be released, the Working Group stated that he should be compensated and referred the allegations of torture to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Freedom Now and Hogan Lovells serve as Hayit’s international pro bono counsel. Since adopting the case, Freedom Now has urged the UN Secretary General to raise Hayit’s imprisonment with President Emomali Rahmon and delivered a statement calling for Hayit’s release before the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s annual Human Dimension Implementation Meeting.

Freedom now

Freethinkers: “Defend Tajik emigrants from political persecution”

The Forum of Tajik Freethinkers calls on Turkish authorities and international human rights organizations not to allow the extradition from Turkey of a citizen of Tajikistan, Saidullo Valiev, who was detained recently.
The Tajik authorities do not give up opportunities to obtain extradition of the representatives of the Tajik opposition and even their relatives from a number of countries in the hope that these countries are able to forget the legal and civilized norms for the sake of partnership. Earlier, on March 19, 2018 at the request of the government of Tajikistan in Istanbul, the leader of the Tajik opposition movement «Group 24» Zafar Turaev and activist Nasim Sharipov were detained.
According to the Payom.net Internet portal, Saidullo Valiev was detained on May 3, 2018 in Istanbul at his workplace, and the representatives of the Turkish authorities demanded from him to buy a ticket to Dushanbe. After the refusal, Valiyev was asked to leave Turkey on the «extradition condition» and fly to a third country: to Georgia. However, 6 hours before the flight to Tbilisi, Valiyev was offered to fly to Moldova. But on the way to the airport he was detained again and delivered to the Migrant Deportation Center of the Turkish Migration Service.
We regard these actions as threatening the safety, health and life of the citizen Saidullo Valiev and as damaging the international image of Turkey.
We urge the Turkish authorities not to return Saidullo Valiev to Tajikistan where he might face a real of being subject to torture and imprisonment on trumped-up charge.
Saidullo Valiev is the son-in-law of Mirzorakhim Kuzov, one of the members of the IRPT leadership, whose extradition from Athens’ Greek court was denied earlier to the Tajik authorities. The Tajik security forces, following an unsuccessful attempt to request the extradition of Mirzorakhim Kuzov from Europe, continued pressure on his relatives in Tajikistan. As reported, Kuzov’s brother, Rakhim Kuzov, his wife Fotima Davlatova and two of their sons in their homeland, are under pressure from the special services of Tajikistan. At the same time, the elder brother of a member of the IRPT leadership was detained and interrogated for 15 hours.
The Tajik authorities’ stance against civilized and disrespect for the norms of humanism, human rights and their own laws should not be confirmed and encouraged by other self-respecting states.
It is necessary to do everything so that the Tajik authorities stop attempts at abductions and attempts against those who think differently, as it happened to Maksud Ibragimov in Moscow.
Many questions remain about the murder in Istanbul of Umarali Kuvvatov after a series of unsuccessful attempts by Dushanbe to extradite him to Tajikistan. The countries of the world should not be on the sidelines of the Tajik authorities and help them persecute Tajik dissidents and even their relatives outside Tajikistan, as is the case with Saydullo Valiev. Citizens of Tajikistan should not become second-class people also outside their own country. By pursuing Tajik emigrants and flouting their rights outside the country, the Tajik authorities also violate the jurisdiction of other countries and international legal and civilized norms.
The Forum of Tajik Freethinkers