Frankfurt (11/09 – 20)
Two international human rights organizations have called on the Tajikistan government to immediately release jailed lawyer and human rights activist Manuchehr Kholiknazarov, as well as other activists and journalists.
The International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) and the international non-profit organization CIVICUS, which bills itself as “a global alliance aimed at strengthening the action of citizens and civil society around the world,” in their message published specially on the eve of Independence Day, September 8, focus on the fact that Tajik human rights activist and civil society activist Manuchehr Kholiknazarov was falsely sentenced to a long prison term. “The government of Tajikistan, which is celebrating Independence Day, must immediately release him and everyone who has been unjustly imprisoned,” the appeal says.
The International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) and the international non-profit organization CIVICUS, focus in their message on the fact that Tajik human rights activist and civil society activist Manuchehr Kholiknazarov was falsely sentenced to a long prison term and that the government of Tajikistan must immediately release him and everyone who has been unjustly imprisoned.
The head of the Pamir Lawyers Association, Manuchehr Kholiknazarov, was detained in May 2022 after protests by residents of Gorno-Badakhshan and sentenced to 16 years in prison on charges of “collaboration with the criminal community and banned organizations.”
Kholiknazarov was a member of the “Commission 44,” which was created by GBAO activists for a joint investigation with investigators from the General Prosecutor’s Office of the murder of Gulbiddin Ziyobekov, a resident of the Roshtkala district, and the November 2021 events in Khorog.
International human rights organizations criticized the fact that “the trial of Kholiknazarov took place behind closed doors and did not meet international standards of justice.”
They called the arrest and sentencing of Manuchehr Kholiknazarov a continuation of the Tajik government’s pressure on civil society activists, ranking Tajikistan among the most repressive countries in the world.
“The Tajik authorities, using fabricated charges, have repeatedly accused journalists, bloggers, activists and critics of the government of “extremism” and “terrorism.” – says the joint appeal of IPHR and CIVICUS.
Brigitte Dufour, director of IPHR, said Manuchehr Kholiknazarov has been in prison for 15 months simply because he defended people’s rights and fought injustice. “He’s not the only one. Tajikistan must immediately release Manuchehr and all other human rights defenders who have been imprisoned for defending people’s rights,” she said.
While human rights organizations have repeatedly demanded that the authorities release Badakhshan activists, calling them fighters for justice, the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Supreme Court classify them as “members and leaders of criminal groups.”
How the Tajik authorities responded to the new appeal and demands of human rights organizations regarding the release of Manuchehr Kholiknazarov and other activists is unknown.
This year, the international organization CIVICUS Monitor in its review ranked Tajikistan, along with Turkmenistan, China and Syria, as a “closed country”. This was the worst rating for the country.
Over the past year and a half in Tajikistan, eight journalists and bloggers have been imprisoned for periods ranging from 7 to 21 years for collaborating with banned organizations. Charges that human rights activists and the prisoners themselves called fabricated.