Jailed Tajik Opposition Figure Reportedly Moved To Prison Hospital

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Jailed Tajik opposition veteran Hikmatullo Saifullozoda has reportedly been moved to a prison hospital after the 70-year-old is said to have shown signs of heart trouble.

Saifullozoda's wife, Farogat Sanginova, told RFE/RL on April 1 that she visited the prison after her husband missed his regular weekly call to her.

"The prison administration told me that he was placed in the penitentiary's hospital. They said they will treat his heart first and prepare him for surgery," Sanginova said.

Sanginova previously said a chronic medical condition had worsened after her husband survived COVID-19 while in custody.

But the Tajik prison administration rejected her statements, saying that Saifullozoda's life was not in danger.

Saifullozoda is a onetime member of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan Party (IRPT), which was labeled as extremist and banned in 2015.

Dozens of IRPT officials and supporters have been prosecuted and many imprisoned in recent years, drawing criticism of President Emomali Rahmon's government from rights groups.

Saifullozoda was arrested in 2015 and sentenced to 16 years in prison after a court found him guilty of involvement in a purported insurrection against Rahmon's government led by Army General Abduhalim Nazarzoda.

The IRPT, long an influential party with representatives in the Tajik government and parliament, has denied any links to the deadly events and called the imprisonment of its members and leaders politically motivated.

Activists and rights groups say Rahmon, who has ruled Tajikistan since 1992, has used the security forces and other levers of power to sideline opponents and suppress dissent.

Source: Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.