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Human Rights backlash in Central-Asia

Human Rights backlash in Central-Asia

Did you know that Saparmamed Nepeskuliev and 111 other individuals have disappeared in prisons in Turkmenistan? The human rights situation is critical in many European and Central-Asian countries.

The Civic Solidarity Platform (CSP) has issued an appeal raising serious concerns about the situation for political prisoners in Turkmenistan and for human rights defenders in other OSCE participating states.  

The list of political prisoners disappearing into Turkmenistan’s prison system is getting longer and longer. These individuals have no access to legal representation, medical care, no contact with the outside world. Their families don’t even know if they are alive and a few of the prisoners are confirmed dead.

Retaliation

Several cases of imprisonment in retaliation for peaceful support of fundamental freedoms in OSCE-states are being highlighted in the statement from CSP.

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC) is a member of CSP and has worked closely on several of the cases raised.

  •  Kazakh activists Max Bokayev and Talgat Ayan were sentenced to five years on politically motivated trumped-up charges late last year after exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
  • Tajik lawyers Buzurgmehr Yorov and Nuriddin Mahkhamov, have been imprisoned on lengthy terms in retaliation for their professional activities as defense lawyers of political opponents of the regime.

Eradicated

The political opposition in Tajikistan has been eradicated, hundreds of political prisoners now languish behind bars and the police systematically cracks down on freedom of expression and media freedom.  These resent developments were discussed in Warsaw, at the annual Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM) in Warsaw last week. 

NHC co-hosted a side-event at HDIM in which the panelists delved deeply into the Tajik human rights crisis. United Nations Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, professor David Kaye reported on the deteriorating situation for freedom of expression. A representative from the OSCE Office of the Representative on Freedom of the Media spoke about recent alarming developments in the field of media freedom.

Sanctions 

The NHC representative and Human Rights Watch’s Central Asia researcher raised concerns about the harsh retaliatory actions against meted out against relatives of Tajik activists who speak out about abuses, and provided policy recommendations to decision makers in Washington and Brussels.

- Tajik authorities are cracking down ruthlessly because they keep getting away with it. Tajikistan’s democratic partners must consider targeted sanctions against key government officials complicit in gross human rights violations, says Marius Fossum, NHC Regional Representative in Central Asia.

Joint statement from CSP

A letter to UN Secretary-General António Guterres ahead of Tajikistan visit

Tajikistan:

A letter to UN Secretary-General António Guterres ahead of Tajikistan visit

Together with Civil Rights Defenders, Sweden, and Freedom Now, USA, NHC has written a letter to the UN Secretary-General António Guterres ahead of his visit to Tajikistan, reminding him of the grave human rights situation and the negative development in the country. Since 2014, the Tajik government has undertaken a widespread crackdown to dismantle and discredit the country’s peaceful political opposition.

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US, EU Should Consider Sanctions

Tajikistan:

US, EU Should Consider Sanctions

– Tajikistan’s security services have taken new actions against relatives of at least three political activists abroad who engage in peaceful criticism of the government, Human Rights Watch and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee said today.

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Long Prison Terms for Rights Lawyers

Tajikistan:

Long Prison Terms for Rights Lawyers

Serious Blow to Independence of Legal Profession. – A court in Tajikistan on October 6, 2016, sentenced two prominent human rights lawyers to long prison terms, Human Rights Watch, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, and Association for Human Rights in Central Asia said today

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NHC active at HDIM 2016

HDIM 2016:

NHC active at HDIM 2016

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee was active at this years Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM), which took place in Warsaw 19-30 September. Photo: OSCE/Piotr Markowski.

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Job Vacancy Announcement

Kazakhstan:

Job Vacancy Announcement

Do you want to join a small team in NHCs active office in Kazakhstan? NHC has a vacancy for an Administrative Officer at our Central Asia Office in Almaty. Deadline for applications is 24 June 2016.

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International partners should publicly and unanimously condemn continued crackdown

Tajikistan:

International partners should publicly and unanimously condemn continued crackdown

– Tajikistan’s Supreme Court sentenced leaders of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) on June 2, 2016 to lengthy prison terms on charges of attempting to overthrow the government, Human Rights Watch, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, and the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia said today. The sentences, including two life terms, followed an unfair trial initiated in retaliation for their peaceful political opposition and reflect the government’s pervasive manipulation of the justice system and egregious violations of the right to freedom of expression.

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Tajikistan: Free Human Rights Lawyers

Tajikistan:

Tajikistan: Free Human Rights Lawyers

Respect Independence of Legal Profession: Oslo, May 3, 2016: Tajik authorities should immediately and unconditionally release four human rights lawyers and two sons of another prominent lawyer who are imprisoned or detained on politically motivated charges, Human Rights Watch and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee said today. Tajik authorities should stop harassing and targeting independent lawyers.

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Shabnam Khudoydodova released from detention

Tajikistan:

Shabnam Khudoydodova released from detention

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is relieved to learn that Shabnam Khudoydodova has been freed from detention in Belarus. Ms. Khudoydodova was released in Brest on 22 February, 2016 after eight months in detention pursuant to an extradition request from Tajikistan.

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Severe Crackdown on Political Opposition

Tajikistan:

Severe Crackdown on Political Opposition

The Tajik government is arresting, imprisoning, and torturing members of the country’s peaceful political opposition, Human Rights Watch and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee said today. The government is also targeting perceived critics abroad, seeking their detention and extradition back to Tajikistan, and has forcibly disappeared critics abroad only to have them reappear in Tajik custody.

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Opposition Activists Detained

Tajikistan:

Opposition Activists Detained

Tajik authorities detained at least 13 activists of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) on September 16, 2015, Human Rights Watch, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, and the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia said today. Authorities should immediately release or, if there is credible evidence that they have committed a legitimate offence, promptly charge them and ensure due process for all the detainees, including timely access to independent counsel and contact with family members. Photo: 2013 HRW

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Reverse Political Party Closure

Tajikistan:

Reverse Political Party Closure

The Tajik government should reverse its decision to order the closure of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) and allow the party to operate freely, Human Rights Watch, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, and the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia said today. Tajik authorities should also halt their ongoing campaign of harassment against the party and its members and allow independent political parties to operate freely in Tajikistan.

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No extradition to Tajikistan

Belarus and Moldova:

No extradition to Tajikistan

In two joint letters to the governments of Belarus and Moldova, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee and the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia urge them to uphold their international obligations and secure two peaceful Tajik opposition activists from extradition to Tajikistan and possible torture and other ill-treatment. Moldova and Belarus are bound by international refugee law as well as the UN Convention against Torture. They cannot lawfully return Mr. Sobir Valiev and Ms. Shabnam Khudoydodova to Tajikistan where torture remains widespread.

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Opposition parties ousted from parliament

Tajikistan:

Opposition parties ousted from parliament

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee visited Tajikistan last week to gain an impression of the climate in which the 1 March parliamentary elections were carried out. With 54 out of 63 seats in parliament, the ruling party has cemented the parliament's role as merely a rubber stamp body for the president. The authorities have targeted especially the Islamic Revival Party during the last year. The state-owned propaganda machinery has attacked and discredited the party and its members, linking it to extremism and terrorism among other things. Furthermore several of the party's candidates have been disqualified on questionable grounds and its campaigning material has been blocked.

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NHC condemns murder of Tajik opposition leader

Tajikistan:

NHC condemns murder of Tajik opposition leader

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee was shocked and saddened to learn of the assassination of Tajik opposition leader Umarali Kuvatov, who was shot at close range by an unknown person outside his home in Istanbul, Turkey, on the evening of 5 March. Kuvatov was in the presence of his wife and children when he was killed by a gunshot to the head.

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Drop draft legislation restricting NGO access to funding

Tajikistan:

Drop draft legislation restricting NGO access to funding

NHC joins a number of civil society organisations from the OSCE region in protesting the recent initiative of Tajikistan’s government to regulate and restrict access of NGOs to financial assistance from foreign and international sources.

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NHC attends the annual HDIM-meeting

OSCE meeting in Warzaw:

NHC attends the annual HDIM-meeting

NHC is active at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting 2014 which is currently taking place in Warsaw.

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No pluralism, no surprises

Tajikistan Presidential Elections:

No pluralism, no surprises

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee was present in Tajikistan this week to tap the atmosphere surrounding the 6 November presidential elections, where the incumbent Emomali Rakhmon as of Thursday morning took 83,9 % of the votes. The landslide win came as no surprise, with the run-up to Election Day following a familiar formula long established in Tajikistan as well as in many of its neighboring states. -Pre-determined election results are no proof of stability. We consider that it merely reflects the lack of political pluralism in Tajikistan, said Ivar Dale, Norwegian Helsinki Committee Regional Representative in Central Asia.

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Freedom of Religion or Belief in Central Asia

Central Asia:

Freedom of Religion or Belief in Central Asia

The Freedom of Religion or Belief in Central Asia Project is part of NHC’s larger Human Rights in Central Asia program, and focuses in particular on Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

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Tajikistan authorities should investigate disproportionate use of force in special operation

Tadjikistan:

Tajikistan authorities should investigate disproportionate use of force in special operation

In July 2012, Tajikistani authorities used disproportional force in a special operation in the mountainous Pamir region of Tajikistan, bordering Afghanistan. Officially, the authorities were aiming to arrest criminals linked to militant forces in Afghanistan. Effectively, communications lines were cut off for a long period of time, a large number of civilians suffered in terms of property damage and injuries, and more than 22 people died. One year later, the authorities have failed to provide adequate information on the details around what happened and which legal acts are being taken to punish those involved.

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Small Grants Fund Central Asia 2013 deadline has now passed

Announcement:

Small Grants Fund Central Asia 2013 deadline has now passed

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is pleased to announce the continuation of our small grants fund for Central Asia. All organizations with project proposals related to human rights, democratization or strengthening of civil society may apply. While we are open to all good proposals, we encourage projects in Kazakhstan related to the outlying regions of the country. In Kyrgyzstan, we are particularly interested in projects addressing the basic human rights of vulnerable groups as well as legal initiatives. In Tajikistan, strengthening of the media and the rights of children is important. However, we are open to original and innovative ideas.

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Ukraine rejects extradiction to Tajikistan

Tajikistan/Ukraine:

Ukraine rejects extradiction to Tajikistan

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee was relieved to learn of the decision by Ukrainian authorities to respect international human rights obligations and to reject an extradition request for the former Prime Minister of Tajikistan to his home country.

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Tajiks worldwide raise concern for violence in eastern Tajikistan

Tajikistan:

Tajiks worldwide raise concern for violence in eastern Tajikistan

On 24 July central Special Forces entered the Gorno-Badakshan region (Pamir) with military personnel and equipment, including helicopters. Allegedly, the aim was to arrest the militants suspect of the murder of the local head of the KNB. However, as the day advanced, reports of civilian casualties emerged, as well as raids and shooting of schools and private homes. There was no organized evacuation of civilians before the actions started, and an information blockade followed.

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Ukraine must not extradite Tajikistan Ex-PM

Tajikistan/Ukraine:

Ukraine must not extradite Tajikistan Ex-PM

Oslo/Almaty: On 5 February 2013, the former Prime Minister of Tajikistan, Abdulmalik Abdullodzhonov, was arrested at Borispol International Airport in Kiev, Ukraine. Abdullodzhonov, who has been residing in the USA for the past 14 years, had arrived to Ukraine on private business and was detained due to his having been included on the Interpol wanted list by Tajik authorities. If extradited, Abdullodzhonov is at great risk of being subjected to ill-treatment and torture.

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Investigate threats against Memorial Central Asia staff

Central Asia:

Investigate threats against Memorial Central Asia staff

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee was distressed to learn of serious, anonymous threats made against the Central Asia Program Director of Human Rights Center Memorial, Vitaliy Ponomarev, on 12 January 2012 and urges Russian and Uzbekistani authorities to open an investigation.

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