U.S. Senator Calls On Tajik President To ‘Immediately Stop Repressions’

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The chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Ben Cardin, has urged Tajik President Emomali Rahmon “to immediately end” the repression of peaceful demonstrators, community leaders, journalists and activists in Tajikistan, as well as “all forms of transnational repression.”

In a statement issued on December 5, Senator Cardin stressed that “there are persistent reports of arbitrary arrest, denial of judicial due process, as well as acts of violence including torture, assault, and even instances of murder of journalists, political dissidents, as well as community and religious leaders.”

“The ongoing crackdown on ethnic and religious minorities, their local organizations and leaders, in the Gorno-Badakhshan region, in particular, is especially troubling,” Cardin’s statement said, citing the State Department’s 2022 Country Report on Human Rights and Freedom House as saying that Rahmon’s government “used intimidation and abused judicial procedures to engage in repression against individuals outside of Tajikistan’s borders — also known as transnational repression — targeting political opponents, civil society activists, human rights defenders, and journalists.”

“The United States wants to strengthen its growing partnership with Tajikistan,” the statement emphasized. “Bolstering human rights and the rule of law will reap long-lasting benefits for Tajikistan through increased influence, foreign investment, tourism, and trade.”

Rahmon, who has ruled the Central Asian country for almost 30 years, has been criticized by international human rights groups over his administration’s alleged disregard for independent media, religious freedoms, civil society, and political pluralism.

In recent years, several Tajik journalists, rights activists, and opposition politicians have been handed lengthy prison terms mostly based on accusations of collaborating with extremist, or banned organizations, the charges seen by rights groups as trumped up and politically motivated.

Cardin’s statement came one day before the committee’s hearing on “Transnational Repression: Authoritarian Targeting Dissenters Abroad.”

Noted international investigative journalist Christo Hrozev, Freedom House President Michael Abramowitz, and British lawyer Caoilfhionn Gallagher will testify at the hearing as witnesses.

Source : Rferl