Shabnam Khudoydodova is free!

Shabnam Khayrulloevna KHUDOYDODOVA
was born on 20 December 1986
in the city of Kulyab of the Tajikistan SSR.
She is the mother of a daughter.
22 February 2016: a citizen of Tajikistan Shabnam Khudoydodova is release form custody in Belorussia.

We welcome the decision of the Republic of Belarus and thank the lawyers and the UNHCR mission for creating the conditions and their participation in her case. Diplomatic mission of the OSCE, the democratic community of countries and especially the United States Embassy deserve much gratitude. The US diplomats followed the fate of Shabnam Hudodoydovoy all the time and actively protected her from forcible return to Tajikistan.

On 13 June 2015, Shabnam Khudoydodova was arrested in the city of Brest of the Republic of Belarus, and spent 3 days in the Detention Centre of the Brest City Police Department of the Leninski District. The Detention Centre is located in the northern town of the city of Brest, in the basement of the Leninsky District Police Department. On 16 June 2015, Shabnam was transferred to the Detention Centre №7 (institution UZH-15/IZ-7) in Brest. On 22 February 2016, Shabnam was released from the Detention Centre №7. Currently, Shabnam Khudoydodovoya is in conditions guaranteeing her safety.

Shabnam Khudoydodova was detained for seven months at the request of Tajikistan for her extradition. Tajik authorities are persecuting her for her criticism published in social networks. She declared her support for the leaders of the political opposition in Tajikistan, who have been calling on President Rahmon for democratic reforms. Soon after that Khudoydodova was included in the wanted list of Interpol. She is forced to live abroad, because there is no work at home, and suffers because of the separation from her daughter.

In January 2015, Khudoydodova’s house was searched, her mother and all those with whom she maintained a relationship in Tajikistan were interrogated. In recent years, Shabnam Khudoydodova lived in Russia. Having learned that her abduction was being prepared in the Russian Federation, she left Russia. Around the same time, in early 2015, Shabnam Khudoydodova was included in the wanted list in Tajikistan.

Association for Human Rights in Central Asia expresses its gratitude to all partners who participated in defending Shabnam Khudodoydova, namely Human Rights Watch, Norwegian Helsinki Committee - NHC, the Human Rights Center "Viasna" and many others.



Kyrgyzstan: the tax authorities demand a payment for the property of a wanted person

Tax authorities of Kyrgyzstan demanded to pay a tax on vehicle owners do not have control over.

Owners of vehicles stolen or set on fire during the ethnic conflict in June 2010 are facing demands to pay the tax for the past five years.

According to official data (Statistics of the State Directorate for Reconstruction of Osh and Jalal-Abad, 2010), during the ethnic conflict in southern Kyrgyzstan in June 2010, 620 cars and 30 trucks and buses were hijacked and set on fire. Of these, ten were returned to the owners of the vehicles, others were put on the wanted list.

Osh, 2010 
Inspectors the Tax Service explain their demands to the citizens by the fact that the vehicles belonging to the latter are registered in the database of taxable property.

But, as it turned out, the car owners who have suffered during the tragic events are not exempt from the taxation. Even those who reported their loss of property to the Prosecutor's Office and the State Agency for Local Government and Ethnic Relations at the Government of Kyrgyzstan (GAMSUMO) are among them. In 2013 these very citizens were exempted from the mandatory inspection of vehicles, because they did not have control over their property due to an objective reason.

Association for Human Rights in Central Asia (AHRCA) calls on the Kyrgyz government to provide an exemption on the tax on personal property for the citizens, who have no control over their property as a result of the ethnic conflict.


Kyrgyzstan: all prisoners forced to shave beards

In Kyrgyzstan's prisons the prisoners are being forced to shave beards.

Recently, in a penal colony №3 of the State Penitentiary Service under the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic (SPS) (located in the village of Novo-Pokrovka of the Chui region) the prisoners began to face demands to shave beards. Soon after, the same information began to come out of the detention facility №5 located in the city of Osh. Now this practice has spread into the remaining institutions the SPS.

Anyone who refuses to comply with the new requirement forcibly shaved off his facial hair and hair on his head. Many are placed in solitary confinement as a punishment and deprived of family visits and food parcels. Such disciplinary measures apply to all prisoners regardless of religion and beard length. According to official figures, 182 out of 100 thousand people in Kyrgyzstan are imprisoned.

Back in October 2015, at prison №50 located in the village of Nizhniy Nooruz of the Chui region, prisoners voluntarily shaved off their beards, in order not to attract the attention of employees of operational services. It started immediately after the escape of nine prisoners, including seven sentenced to life imprisonment. When escaping, the prisoners killed three employees of the pre-trial detention facility, who tried to stop them. By shaving their beards, the prisoners hoped to avoid the suspicion of having links with those who escaped. Now, this has led to an unofficial ban on beards in all prisons.

Clerical Office of Muslims of Kyrgyzstan has not commented on the practice of the ban on beards.

Association for Human Rights in Central Asia calls on Kyrgyzstan to respect the fundamental human rights and freedoms, including the basic principles of the treatment of prisoners:
Respect for them;
Observance of the principle of presumption of innocence;
— Ensuring freedom of religion and worship and ceremonies, etc.


Uzbekistan: Rights Defender’s Work Impeded

Uktam Pardaev
Lift Unlawful Restrictions on Rights Activist
(Brussels, February 9, 2016 Uzbek authorities should immediately stop harassing the human rights defender Uktam Pardaev and lift the unlawful restrictions on his fundamental rights imposed by police, the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia, International Partnership for Human Rights, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, and Human Rights Watch said today.  Pardaev is the chairman of the Jizzakh branch of the Independent Human Rights Organization in Uzbekistan. 
He was detained on November 16, 2015 to face trial on what are widely believed to be politically motivated grounds in retaliation for his human rights monitoring work and was severely beaten in pre-trial detention. On January 11, 2016, the Dustlik district court in Jizzakh region convicted Pardaev of three criminal offenses  (insult, fraud and taking a bribe, all of which he denies. The court imposed a three year conditional sentence  to be served in prison if he violates conditions of his release following a six-hour trial. The sentence stipulates that he must register monthly at the local police station.
Uktam Pardaev’s conditional sentence is proving a convenient tool to try to shut down his human rights work, said Nadejda Atayeva, president of the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia. “The unjustified intensive surveillance he is experiencing, as well as the ever-present threat of being thrown back in jail, is restricting his human rights, including his right to speak out on human rights violations.”
Pardaev, 37, is known for his work uncovering local corruption and monitoring the forced labor of adults and children in Uzbekistan’s cotton fields. Authorities have persecuted him for his peaceful work for years, denying him an exit visa from Uzbekistan on political grounds. Prior to his arrest, Pardaev had told diplomats and international organizations that local authorities’ were increasing the pressure on him in the form of constant surveillance and harassment.
In October, Pardaev reported to Human Rights Watch that he feared imminent arrest at the hands of the local branch of Uzbekistan’s feared National Security Services, known by the initials SNB. Pardaev also said that the security services had summoned his friends and colleagues, and other people he attempted to assist, for interrogation  threatening and in some cases beating them.
On February 1, he was summoned to the Jizzakh department of the Interior Ministry for questioning by a local police inspector, Tulkin Dysmuradov. The inspector told Pardaev that in addition to the conditions stipulated in his sentence, the police were imposing travel restrictions on him and that he is not allowed to travel outside Jizzakh nor to leave his house after 10 p.m. He would also not be allowed visit his family members without obtaining prior written permission from the local police.
While a court may impose conditions on a sentence it hands down, the police have no legal authority to impose such restrictions. Nevertheless Pardaev was told to sign a paper agreeing to these conditions, which he felt he had no choice but to do as the inspector threatened him with re-arrest if he didn’t comply with the conditions. 
Uktam Pardaev is under surveillance and his movements are being controlled by the authorities simply in retribution for his human rights work  he does not present any danger to society whatsoever,” said Brigitte Dufour, director of International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR). “It is imperative that the Uzbek authorities investigate allegations of ill-treatment in Khavast detention facility and put a stop to these practices.”
Since his release in January Pardaev has been under constant surveillance by law enforcement officials, who follow him everywhere and park their car outside his house when he is at home, he told the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia. Pardaev’s brothers, Utkir and Sharif, have also come under pressure. After Pardaev was released from detention, officials from the political investigations division visited the Pardaev brothers’ neighbors, friends, and acquaintances, questioned them and pressured them to provide incriminating information about the brothers, Pardaev reported.  
The enduring pressure on Uktam Pardaev and his family is a violation of Uzbekistan’s international commitments, and is evidently intended to silence one of Uzbekistan’s few remaining human rights activists,” said Marius Fossum, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee regional representative in Central Asia. “Tashkent should cease the harassment of Pardaev and ensure all human rights defenders the freedom and safety to carry out their work without hindrance, in accordance with international human rights standards and Uzbekistan’s international commitments.”
For his first 40 days in detention, Pardaev was held in Dustlik pre-trial detention facility, then transferred on December 26 to Khavast detention facility in the Syrdaryo region. There, he said, he was severely beaten on one occasion when he did not get dressed quickly enough.
Pardaev said he intends to appeal his conviction. 
In Uzbekistan even if a malicious prosecution does not result in a jail sentence, it will be used to justify persecution, prevent the exercise of basic human rights and shut down human rights work,” said Steve Swerdlow, Central Asia Researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Rather than get justice for the pain and suffering authorities caused him in detention, Uktam Pardaev is still being targeted.” 


Trial against 13 members of the Islamic Renaissance Party begins in Tajikistan

On 9 February 2016, Tajikistan’s Supreme Court begins hearing the cases of 13 leading members of the banned Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT). The trial will be held behind the closed doors since it has been “classified”.

The relatives of the defendants have been invited to court on 8 February, one day before the start of the process.

All 13 leading IRPT member were arrested on 16-18 September 2015, after the conclusion of the special security operation initiated against the armed group of Abduhalim Nazarzoda over two armed attacks that took place in Tajikistan at the beginning of September. The Tajikistani authorities have accused IRPT leader Muhiddin Kabiri (who is in exile) and the whole party of involvement in these armed attacks. On 29 September 2015, Tajikistan’s Supreme Court declared the IRPT a “terrorist” and “extremist” organization.
Immediately after the arrests of IRPT members, there were reports of the confiscation of property of party members, as well as pressure on their relatives, including under-age children. Many relatives of arrested IRPT members were dismissed from their jobs on the basis of what appears to have been unofficial orders by the Tajikistani authorities. IRPT members are subjected to widespread discrimination.

The charges against arrested IRPT members are largely based on confessions believed to have been obtained under duress. The prosecutor signed off on the indictment and the case was handed over to court. As the trial will be held behind the closed doors, procedural violations will not be disclosed to the public, and the proceedings are likely to be only formal in nature.

The defendants in the trial include:

Saidumar Husayni (born 1961), first deputy chair of the IRPT, member of the political council and presidium of the party, previous MP, has a PhD degree in philosophy.

Muhammadali Hajit (born 20 October 1957), deputy chair of the IRPT, member of the political council and presidium of the party, former officer of the military intelligence service of the Soviet Union, holder of the Soviet Red Star order.

Abdukahhori Davlat (born on 5 August 1975), member of the political council and presidium of the IRPT, head of the department of external relations of the IRPT.

Rahmatulloi Radzhab (born on 5 June 1958), member of the highest political council of the IRPT, chair of the IRPT department for district branches and head of the election department.

Zubajdulloi Rozik (born 1946), member of the political council and presidium of the IRPT, head of the IRPT department for science, former imam at a mosque in the Gozmalik district, former chief editor of the IRPT publication “Nazhot”.

Muhammadali Fajzmuhammad (born 1959), member of the political council and presidium of the IRPT, head of the religious committee of the IRPT, previous member of the committee for national reconciliation, former imam in the Pyandzhskij district, Muslim scholar.

Hikmatullo Sajfullozoda (born on 1 March 1950), member of the political council and presidium of the IRPT, chief editor of the IRPT publication “Nazhot”, former press secretary of IRPT, former member of the Central Election Committee, journalist and political scientist.

Kijomiddin Avazov (born on 24 June 1973), member of the political council and presidium of the IRPT, head of the IRPT branch in Dushanbe, previous chair of the party department for youth and sports, previous party functionary and expert on the Arabic language.

Zarafo Rahmoni (born on 23 February 1972), member of the political council and presidium of the IRPT, lawyer and journalist.

Muhammadsharif Nabiyev, member of the highest political council if the IRPT and head of the IRPT branch in the city of Kulyab.

Abdusamad Gayratov (born 1962), member of the highest political council of the IRPT.

Sattar Karimov (born 1959), member of the highest political council of the IRPT.

Vohidhon Kosidinov (born 1969), member of the highest political council of the IRPT, head of the elections department of the party, previous deputy chair of the party, previous head of the party organization in the city of Isfara.

Among the defendants is one woman, Zarafo Rahmoni:

Zarafo Rahmoni has four children, the youngest of whom is not yet seven years old. She has serious health problems and suffers from heart and kidney pain, nervous exhaustion and severe depression.

Throughout the investigation, neither Zarafo’s sister nor representatives of the Red Cross have been allowed to visit her in the pre-trial detention facility where she has been held in Dushanbe.

Her two lawyers, Sitor Azizov and Zaydullo Davlatov have, however, been allowed to visit her and have also brought her medicine and food. They saw her the last time on 15 January 2016, when she familiarized herself with case materials. On 18 January, the case was handed over to court. The lawyers have not told Zarafo’s relatives any details, out of fear of losing their lawyer’s licenses. 

Zarafo’s relatives are allowed to pass on medicine and food to her once a week. On 20 January 2016, her oldest and youngest son were able to meet her for the first time since her arrest.

IRPT members who have already been sentenced to imprisonment:

  • Hasan Rahimov, head of the IRPT branch in the Farhor district. On 27 November 2015, the Supreme Court of Tajikistan sentenced him to nine years in prison after finding him guilty of calling for terrorist activities, establishing an extremist organization, unlawfully possessing weapons and inciting national and religious hatred. 
  • The following individuals have also been convicted on similar charges and sentenced to prison: Zainidin Yusupov (10 years in prison), Asomiddin Abdurahmonov (10 years in prison), Tavakkal Boboev (18 years in prison), Rustam Emomov (17 years in prison), Umarsho Davlatov (15 years in prison), Mahmadali Islomov (5 years in prison) and Zavkibekov Rakhmonov (4 years in prison).
IRPT members who have had their passports confiscated and who have been ordered not to travel anywhere:

  • Abbos Radjabov, Mirzo Cool Toshmatov, Sherali Saidov, Nodir Abdulloeva, Saidmahmud Saidov and Oisha Bobochonova.
IRPT members who have been declared wanted:

  • Muhiddin Kabiri, Nazar Sayidibrohimi Karim Shohnaimi, Afzali Kamariddin, Khayrinisso Saidov, Ilhom Ekubov, Nematullo Amonbekov, Gulbarga Sayfova, Sharofat Sharofiddinova and others.

The Association for Human Rights in Central Asia (AHRCA) has received information about the arrest of 93 IRPT representatives. However, this is not exhaustive information. The scope of the repression against party members is much wider. Many are intimidated and afraid to provide information about such repression.
*  *  *
The ACHRA considers that the IRPT was declared a “terrorist” and “extremist” organization on politically motivated grounds.

The organization calls on the EU, the OSCE, the United States and other international partners of Tajikistan to demand that the authorities of the country respect their international human rights obligations. The authorities of the country should ensure the right to freedom of association, assembly, expression and religion, as well as impartial and fair trials, where the principle of equality of arms is upheld. Those who are guilty of torture and ill-treatment should be held accountable.