After ban of the IRPT, end of a nearly two-decade-old peace agreement and imprisonment of more than 100 high-ranking members of the party, the Tajik government continued its oppressing policies and put more steps towards a system of absolute dictatorship. Despite security and political measures, in 2016 the Constitution was amended with the direct initiative of the President, which, contrary to all democratic norms, allows him to rule the country for life. Similarly, this amendment excludes the President and his family members from all persecutions, a move that pave the way for them to commit more crimes. Moreover, this change allows Rahmon’s son, Rustami Emomali, 27, to potentially stand for president in 2020.
Furthermore, a new law passed by Tajikistan’s parliament gave Emomali Rahmon the title «Leader of the Nation» that gives him more authorities and powers and puts practically all the bodies of the government in the hand of one person, Rahmon.
The situation of independent media in 2016 was worse than it was before and due to increased pressures for self-censorship, many independent websites and newspapers had been closed. In particular, the independent weekly newspaper “Nigoh” and later news agency “TojNews” were shut down. It was said that the two outlets were closed because of increasing pressures of the authorities and lack of necessary conditions for working.
In 2016, pressures on political activists and their relatives also increased, especially after the OSCE annual conference on human rights, which was held in Warsaw in September 2016 and the Tajik opposition actively participated in. Relatives of all participating Tajik activists were detained and questioned at home.
In the last months of 2016 and the first month of 2017, it was known that the Tajik authorities are not going to end their oppressing policies and despite concerns raised repeatedly by international and human rights organizations, the government continued its repressing policies and crackdown on peaceful activists. We here mention some cases of human rights violations as following:
— In 6th December 2016, Qudrat Oev, 75 years old, was questioned by the law enforcement agencies, because of his grandson, Vaisiddin Odinaev’s political activities and was threatened to face more pressures, if his grandson would not end his activities outside the country.
— In 29 and 30 December 2016, three brothers of Amrulloh Nizom, an independent journalist were interrogated by the security officials and subjected to physical and psychological tortures, because of their brother’s journalistic activities.
— Prison staff subected Rahmatulloi Rajab, a senior leader of the banned Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), who was sentenced to 28 years in prison in June following an unfair trial, to torture due to his son, Shuhrati Rahmatullo’s journalistic activities. Prison authorities placed him in solitary confinement and badly beat him, telling him that the beating was because of his son’s reporting and that “if your son stays quiet, we will stop.”
— In 4th January 2017, Zubaidullo Komilov, 38, brother of political actvists Jannatullah Komilov (residing in Germany) was detained in his hometown jamoati Sebiston of Danghara district. The authorities asked him to urge his brother to stop his political activities, otherwise, other oppressing actions will be taken against his family members.
— In 4th December 2016, unknown persons descended to tomb of Izzatullo Kuvvatov, the deceased father of Umarali Kuvvatov (the founder of opposition “Group 24 who was shot dead in 2015 in Istanbul Turkey) in Dushanbe and destroyed the tomb and burnt the tree planted on it. It was after a group of activists belong to “Group 24” staged a protest in Prague while the President Emomali Rahmon officially visited Czech Republic.
— Following increasing pressures, almost all close relatives of Ilhomjon Yoqubov, political activist and the IRPT’s member, had no choice other than fleeing the country. Despite this, Yakubov has received death threats by phone and via social networking sites, including from one person who said that “they” can find and kill him in Europe.
— Harassment, torture and other inhuman treats of political prisoners in Tajikistan prisons dramatically increased in the last months. They have to report their availabilities for more than 10 times daily that they should stay outside in the yard of the prisons in these cold days for about 10 – 12 hours. In particular, Abdusattor Karimov, Zaid Saidov and Mahmadali Hait were placed in solitary confinement as kind of torture and harassment.
— Shuhrat Kudratov, the well-known jailed lawyer, was to be released on the latest amnesty, but unfortunately, he was freed. This shows once again that the rule of law does not exist in Tajikistan and activists in this country do not have access to the least rights of citizens.
— In recent months, the authorities use pressure and torture of activists in order to gain money and bribery as well as they removed passports from the activists and their families to prevent them from leaving the country.
— Furthermore, cases of detention of citizens on the basis of being ex-member of the IRPT increased. In particular, in January 2017, five former members of the IRPT in Asht district (in far northern country) were detained and accused of continuing activities as members of the party. They were subjected to torture and inhuman treats during interrogation. This happened, while the IRPT’s leadership in exile announced in 2015 that the party ceased all kind of activities in the territory of the country and no one has the right to act in the name of the party or for it inside Tajikistan.
Many citizens whose human rights have been violated are not ready to publish these brutal violations, inhuman treats and the authorities’ crimes, because of fear of facing more pressures and ask our activists not to publish their misfortunes and miseries. Given the fact that the above-mentioned data are much less than what is going in our country, the Executive Council of the IRPT believes that there was an increase in restrictions in political, social and speech freedoms in 2016 as well as in violations of the human rights.
Despite the fact that some human rights organizations have continuously raised concerns on worsening situation of human rights and freedom, the international community in general has remained silent on the miseries of Tajik people and unable to take any actions in this regard. This will encourage, on one hand, the government to commit more crimes against its people and, on other hand, the people will lose their trust in changing the situation by democratic mechanism and peaceful means. We believe that the oppressing policies of Tajik government and indifference of international community to the miseries of Tajik people undoubtedly lead to more radicalization.
The Executive Council, IRPT