Ongoing harassment of Tajik activists: 13 years in prison for Maksud Ibragimov, extradition request from Belarus for Shabnam Hudoydodova

2015 2015-07-17T14:08:34+0300 2015-07-17T14:08:34+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
Maksud Ibragimov (photo: BBC Russian Service)

Maksud Ibragimov (photo: BBC Russian Service)

According to the BBC Russian service, a court in Tajikistan pronounced yesterday a sentence to the leader of a youth public organization “Youth of Tajikistan for Revival”, Maksud Ibragimov. He was accused of involvement in a banned opposition movement "Group of 24", formerly harassed for extremism by the Tajik authorities, and eventually sentenced to 13 years in prison.

Maksud Ibragimov, 37, has officially resided in the territory of Russia for the last 10 years. According to his relatives, at the end of last year, he was informed of the deprivation of his Russian citizenship. Then Ibragimov was attacked by unknown persons and suffered six stab wounds.

Maksud Ibragimov, who is the founder and chairman of the Russia-based youth organization "Youth of Tajikistan for Revival”, often criticized the Tajik authorities and urged them to conduct large-scale reforms. In addition, he was a member of the governing board of an opposition coalition "New Tajikistan", which includes the "Group of 24".

In October 2014, the Supreme Court of Tajikistan found that "Group of 24" was an extremist organization and banned its activities in the country.

The Supreme Court said that they knew nothing about the existence of criminal proceedings against Maksud Ibragimov.

"We do not have any information either on the detention of Maksud Ibragimov, nor on any charges against him, or any verdict,” said a spokesperson for the Supreme Court Nasim Halmurod.

Meanwhile, the official Minsk has not yet decided whether to extradite Shabnam Hudoydodova, an activist of "Group of 24", who was detained on June 15, 2015 while crossing the Belarusian border. In Tajikistan, the activist is accused under article 37 of the Criminal Code of the country - "complicity in a crime." At home, she may be subjected to torture and imprisonment for up to 20 years.

According to human rights activists, Shabnam Hudoydodova, 28, has been living in Russia for the last few years, and supported criticism of the Tajik opposition in social networks. She also participated in programs of assistance to Tajik migrants, not hiding her opposition political assessment of what is happening in her home country.

The activist was forced to leave Russia because of a threat of being kidnapped by the special services of Tajikistan, according to human rights activists, stressing that the abductions and extrajudicial executions were previously used against some colleagues of Ms. Hudoydodova.

Earlier, the European Union, according to press reports, addressed the Belarusian authorities with a request not to extradite the Tajik activist.

According to the human rights organization Association "Human Rights in Central Asia", more than 10 Tajik citizens have been arrested in the past few months in Russia and Tajikistan. The human rights organization expressed concern about the large-scale persecution of activists of the opposition coalition "New Tajikistan", which includes the informal organizations "Youth of Tajikistan for Revival" and the "Group of 24".

"All those who have been prosecuted and arrested in Tajikistan were tortured to obtain testimony against them and their environment. The trials were formal, without complying with the equality of the parties," said Nadezhda Atayeva, president of the Association "Human Rights in Central Asia".