The Observatory has been informed about the arbitrary detention of lawyer Manuchehr Kholiknazarov, who leads the Pamir Lawyers Association, a member organisation of the Civil Society Coalition against Torture and Impunity in Tajikistan, and a member of the civil society human rights initiative ‘Commission 44’. Together with Kholiknazarov, other members of ‘Commission 44’, including lawyer Faromuz Irgashov and Khursand Mamadshoev were also detained. Mr. Mamadshoev is the brother of human rights defender, journalist, and representative of the Pamiri minority Ulfathonim Mamadshoeva, arbitrarily detained since May 18, 2022. ‘Commission 44’ is a group of lawyers, human rights defenders and activists established in Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous (GBAO) region to investigate police brutality that took place in the region in November 2021 and led to several civilians killed and dozens injured.
On May 28, 2022, Manuchehr Kholiknazarov, Faromuz Irgashov and Khursand Mamadshoev were summoned by the local Prosecutor’s Office in the city of Khorog and interrogated about “receiving money from the banned National Alliance of Tajikistan”. They were subsequently placed in a pre-trial detention centre under the Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. On June 6, they were taken from Khorog to Dushanbe, and placed in the detention center of Tajikistan's State Committee of National Security, where they remained detained at the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal.
Manuchehr Kholiknazarov, Faromuz Irgashov and Khursand Mamadshoev are charged under Article 187, part 2 , of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Tajikistan (“participation in a criminal association”). If convicted and sentenced, they face up to 12 years of imprisonment.
At the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, Tajik authorities had not officially commented on the detention of Manuchehr Kholiknazarov, Faromuz Irgashov and Khursand Mamadshoev. It is also unknown whether the three human rights defenders have access to legal assistance.
The Observatory recalls that since May 14, 2022, the GBAO region has been in a state of high tension as around a thousand protesters gathered in Khorog and announced that they would start an indefinite protest from May 16, 2022, unless the regional leader Alisher Mirzonabot resigned and an effective investigation was conducted into the killing of Gulbidin Ziyobekov by police in November 2021. On May 16, 2022, several hundred people gathered in Khorog city centre, and military and special forces reportedly violently dispersed the protest, resulting in at least one death and several injuries. The Internet connection in the entire GBAO region has been cut off since May 16. On May 17 and 18, 2022, security forces continued attacks on civilians, including those who were acting peacefully, reportedly using tear gas grenades and live munition against protesters. On May 18, 2022, the Interior Ministry announced the start of an "anti-terrorist operation" in Badakhshan. Independent journalists who cover the ongoing anti-government protests and the violence against the demonstrators are subjected to threats and attacks, and prominent human rights defenders are criminalised and arbitrarily detained on trumped-up charges. At the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, it is known that at least 40 persons have been killed and hundreds detained amid the crackdown on protesters.
On May, 22, 2022, the UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues expressed concern over the impact the use of counter-terrorism operations to quell protests could have in creating more violence in GBAO region, and called on the authorities of Tajikistan to immediately implement prevention measures that meet international human rights standards.
The Observatory strongly condemns the arbitrary detention of Manuchehr Kholiknazarov, Faromuz Irgashov and Khursand Mamadshoev and urges the authorities in Tajikistan to immediately and unconditionally release them and to put an end to the judicial harassment against them. The Observatory calls on the authorities to put an immediate end to the violence and excessive and unlawful use of force against peaceful protesters and human rights defenders in Tajikistan.
How You Can Help
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Manuchehr Kholiknazarov, Faromuz Irgashov and Khursand Mamadshoev, as well as of all human rights defenders in Tajikistan;
ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Manuchehr Kholiknazarov, Faromuz Irgashov and Khursand Mamadshoev, and immediately disclose their whereabouts;
iii. Put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Manuchehr Kholiknazarov, Faromuz Irgashov and Khursand Mamadshoev and all human rights defenders in Tajikistan so they can carry out their work without any hindrance or fear of reprisals;
iv. Guarantee in all circumstances the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association in Tajikistan, as enshrined in international human rights law and particularly in Article 19, 21 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
· Mr. Enomali Rahmmon, President of the Republic of Tajikistan, H.E. Mr. Enomali Rahmmon. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Mr. Muzaffar Ashurion, Minister of Justice of Tajikistan. E-mail: email@example.com
· Mr. Sirojiddin Muhriddin, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Mr. Umed Bobozoda, Ombudsperson of Tajikistan. Email: email@example.com
· Mr. Yusuf Rahmon, General Prosecutor of Tajikistan. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Permanent Mission of the Republic of Tajikistan to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Email: email@example.com
· Embassy of the Republic of Tajikistan in Brussels, Belgium. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Tajikistan in your respective countries.