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Increasing Pressure on Opposition Party in Tajikistan Raises Concerns of Crackdown
Charges announced August 29 against Tajikistan’s main opposition party indicate what may be a sustained campaign to eliminate the government’s main rivals. According to the General Prosecutor of Tajikistan, the leader of the Islamic Revival Party (IRP) in the city of Khorog, Sherik Karamkhudoev, is being charged with collaboration with a local leader to conduct armed activities against the government. In announcing the charges, the General Prosecutor also described other alleged anti-constitutional activities of the IRP.
On July 24, government forces launched a massive military operation in the city of Khorog in Tajikistan’s Gorno-Badakshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO). The same day, the IRP reported Karamkhudoev as missing. The operation, in which the government deployed heavy weaponry in a densely populated urban area, allegedly came in response to the murder of a National Security Service (GKNB) general earlier in July. Dozens were killed in the course of the operation, including an unknown number of civilians.
Two weeks after his disappearance, Karamkhudoev was revealed to be held in a National Security Service (GKNB) prison in Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe. According to a reliable report, he has been subjected to torture while in detention. The local leader Karamkhudoev allegedly collaborated with, Imomnazar Imomnazarov, was murdered by unknown assailants in his home in Khorog on August 22.
During the military operation the regional leader of the IRP, Sabzali Mamadrizoyev, was also detained by law enforcement services. According to the IRP, his body was found days later with marks of torture and execution.
Freedom House calls on the government of Tajikistan to refrain from targeting its political opponents at this precarious moment. Freedom House also calls on international organizations and Western governments with close relationships to the government of Tajikistan to raise these concerns at the highest levels.