Two Radio Liberty correspondents attacked in Dushanbe while reporting on gasoline price hikes
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Shahlo Abdullo and Mullorajab Yusufi were attacked on March 4 as they interviewed a driver at a gas station, according to Radio Ozodi.
“The attack on two of our reporters in Tajikistan who were only doing their jobs is absolutely unacceptable,” RFE/RL President Jamie Fly said.
“We expect Tajik police to fully investigate this incident and make sure the rights of journalists to report openly and without obstruction is protected now and in the future,” he added.
The two correspondents said an employee of the gas station approached and demanded they stop the interview. The employee then pushed Abdullo while trying to cover the lens of her video camera.
As Yusufi intervened while filming the incident with his mobile phone, the attacker assaulted him while saying that the journalists had no right to film on the property without written permission from the company.
Yusufi denied they were filming on the company’s land saying they were only talking with several drivers who complained about an abrupt increase in the price of gasoline in Tajikistan.
Yusufi was treated by a doctor for minor facial injuries.
Investigators at police station in Dushanbe's Sino district launched a preliminary investigation into the incident after the two journalists filed a complaint.
It is to be noted that journalists in Tajikistan are often attacked and insulted by “unknown persons” while performing their duties. In most cases, police officers fail to identify the attackers and bring them to justice.
Thus, a reporter for Asian-Plus, Abdullo Ghurbati, was attacked by two assailants on May 11, 2020. On May 15, Tajik law enforcement authorities opened a criminal case on charges of hooliganism related to the attack; however, the assailants have yet to be found and charged.
On May 29, Abdullo Ghurbati was the victim of a further attack in the village of Uyali in Khatlon’s Khuroson district. Ghurbati was approached by three men who alighted from a car as he was attempting to report on the aftermath of a recent landslide in the Khuroson district. The men asked him questions about the purpose of his visit. One of them then attacked Ghurbati, beating him until he fell to the ground bleeding. The group then left. The police later identified the attackers and on June 2, a court in the Khuroson district fined the three men believed to be the attackers, 580 somonis each on charges of petty hooliganism.