Tajikh Reporter Khurshed Atovullo Attacked | Freedom House

Tajikh Reporter Khurshed Atovullo Attacked

The editor of independent Tajikh newspaper Farazh, Khurshed Atovullo, was attacked along with his brother and brother-in-law in Dushanbe, Tajikistan on August 31. According to media sources, Atovullo was on his way to an Eid al-Fitr celebration when three men wielding clubs beat him. The motive behind the attack is unclear, although Atovullo saw his assailants’ license plate and reported the attack to the police. This was not the first time Atovullo’s work likely was the cause of endangerment, as he was nearly killed in a 1995 attack. His newspaper Farazh has faced obstacles in the last year,  banned from using printing facilities and then shut down for three weeks in 2010 after coverage of military activity.

While Tajikistan’s constitution grants freedom of speech, the media situation remains dire.  Criticism of President Emomali Rahmon is considered a criminal offense, carrying a prison term of up to five years.   Journalists face threats, intimidation and arrest. In January 2009, two men, one of whom claimed he was an Interior Ministry officer, assaulted the editor in chief of newspaper Pazhvok in southern Tajikistan.  In December 2010, a writer from weekly publication Nuri Zindagi was arrested, detained and charged with defamation and insult through the media. In June 2011, BBC correspondent Urinboy Usmonov was beaten , arrested by authorities, and is being charged with extremism for belonging to banned Islamic group, Hizb-ut-Tahrir.

Freedom House is appalled by the brutal attack on Atovullo and his relatives, and calls on authorities to investigate his attack and apprehend the perpetrators in an attempt to protect the livelihood of journalists in Tajikistan.

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