Group of US senators on Tajik authorities to release detainees serving sentences for peacefully expressing their views
12 months ago Web Desk 0
The call came in the June 29 letter addressed to Tajik President Emomali Rahmon and signed by ten senators.
“Individuals should never be imprisoned for exercising their rights of freedom of assembly, association, and speech, and we urge you to release without preconditions your citizens currently in detention for these legitimate acts. We call for releasing these individuals on the merits of their cases, but today, we also urge you to act quickly on health and humanitarian grounds. While all nations and citizens have been affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic, the risks to the detainee population are particularly acute given the enclosed living conditions,” the letter says.
The senators, in particular, drew President Rahmon’s attention to two cases: the case of human rights lawyer Buzurgmehr Yorov, who was arrested in September 2015 on fraud-related charges and attempts to “change the constitutional system by violence” (Article 307 of Criminal Code); and the case of journalist Daler Sharipov, who arrested on January 28, 2020 on charges of “inciting religious discord.”
The letter notes that Buzurgmehr Yorov was arrested after he announced that one of his legal clients, an imprisoned member of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), was being tortured. In October 2015, a Tajik court sentenced Yorov to 23 years in prison for fraud, forgery, “arousing national, racial, local, or religious hostility,” and extremism..
“Since his initial sentence, we are aware that the Tajik court system has added several years to his sentence, including for reading a poem aloud in a courtroom. In November 2019, your government reduced his sentence by six years as part of a mass amnesty celebrating Tajikistan’s 25th anniversary of independence. Mr. Yorov’s case has attracted international attention, with the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention finding his ongoing detention to be “arbitrary” and calling for his immediate release and compensation. The NGO Freedom Now has also expressed concerns about due process violations during his trial. We are alarmed by reports that he developed a fever of 102° Fahrenheit (38° Celsius) and was unable to receive proper medical care in detention. Although Mr. Yorov has since recovered, several fellow detainees are believed to have died from COVID-19 and dozens remain hospitalized. We call for his immediate release,” the letter says.
As far as Daler Shariov is concerned, the letter notes that on April 16, he received a one-year sentence, a charge Human Rights Watch has called “fabricated” and “baseless.” “We call for his immediate release. We thank you for your consideration of our request and urge swift action on these cases.”
Recall, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators have also called on Central Asian leaders, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev of Kazakhstan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow of Turkmenistan, and Shavkat Mirziyoyev of Uzbekistan.
“Individuals should never be imprisoned for exercising their rights of freedom of assembly, association, and speech,” the senators wrote in the July 1 letter.
“We call for releasing these individuals on the merits of their cases, but today, we also urge you to act quickly on health and humanitarian grounds. While all nations and citizens have been affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic, the risks to the detainee population are particularly acute given the enclosed living conditions,” they added.
Source: Asia Plus