Tajik opposition activist facing extradition from Belarus, torture and imprisonment at home
As reported in her blog by Nadejda Atayeva, president of the Association “Human Rights in Central Asia”, activist of the Group 24 Tajik opposition movement Shabnam Hudoydodova is facing extradition from Belarus after Tajikistan put her on the Interpol wanted list.
Shabnam Hudoydodova was arrested on 15 June when crossing the Belarusian-Polish border. The activist is being held in the remand prison of Brest. She was detained at the request of Tajikistan, where she faced charges under Article 37 of the Criminal Code of Tajikistan – “responsibility of accomplices.”
The press service of the Brest Border Group told Interfax news agency that a citizen of Tajikistan was really detained at the railway crossing point of Brest. The woman was reportedly wanted in Tajikistan for “extremist activities.”
Shabnam Hudoydodova was put on the wanted list after the expulsion from Russia of Maksud Ibrahimov, the leader and founder of the organization “Youth of Tajikistan for the Revival of Tajikistan”, and one of the leaders of the opposition coalition “New Tajikistan”, which includes Group 24. On January 20, he disappeared in Moscow and it soon became known that he was in Tajikistan. Little is still known about him. In January 2015, Shabnam Hudoydodova’s house was searched, and secret services questioned her mother and all those with whom she maintained relations in Tajikistan.
In recent years, Shabnam Hudoydodova has lived in Russia. In social networks she has actively supported the critical opinions of the political opposition in Tajikistan, she emphasized the need for democratic reforms in her home country. Whenever possible, the activist was involved in humanitarian actions in support of Tajik migrant workers.
She recently learned that her abduction was being prepared. These fears are justified: over the last year, many of supporters of Group of 24 have been abducted. Umarali Kuvatov, the group’s leader, was shot dead in Istanbul. In October 2014, Tajikistan declared the organization an extremist one. In many ways, this is a politically motivated persecution of opponents of the regime for their views.
On June 12, Mr. Hudoydodova went to Belarus to apply for a refugee status at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
The association “Human Rights in Central Asia” (AHRCA) has expressed its concern about the threat of extradition of Shabnam Hudoydodova. For her public statements in social networks, she is at risk of torture and imprisonment for up to 20 years if extradited to Tajikistan. Human rights activists are calling on the UN Refugee Agency’s office in Belarus to urgently visit Shabnam Hudoydodova and consider her request in accordance with the UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. They also ask the government of Belarus to fulfill the condition of Article 3 of the UN Convention against Torture prohibiting the expulsion to a country where the refugee is at risk of torture.
The Association has also informed the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, and international human rights organizations.