Press release

Tajikistan: Government Must Cease Retaliation against Activists Exercising Freedom of Speech

Tajik authorities are detaining prominent opposition activists and their relatives, in clear retaliation for their criticism of the government's crackdown on free speech. 


In response to the detention of Farhod Odinaev in Belarus based on a Tajik government request, and of three relatives of Mahmudjon Faizrahmon in Tajikistan, Freedom House and Human Rights Watch issued the following statement:

“The detention of Odinaev in Belarus and of Faizrahmon’s relatives in Tajikistan are clear retaliation for these activists’ outspoken criticism of the curtailment of fundamental freedoms in Tajikistan at the recent OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting,” said Marc Behrendt, director for Europe and Eurasia at Freedom House. “The Tajik government’s targeting of its critics abroad, including through Interpol “red notice” requests and intimidation of their families, underscores how repressive countries in the region seek to silence activists’ freedom of speech and peaceful assembly regardless of where they are. OSCE participating States should demand the release of Odinaev and of Faizrahmon’s relatives.”

“Odinaev’s detention in Belarus at Tajikistan’s request as he traveled to the OSCE HDIM conference and the retaliation against Faizrahmon’s relatives in Tajikistan based on his participation underscores Tajikistan’s ongoing ruthless suppression of activism in all forms,” said Steve Swerdlow, Senior Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Belarus has a legal obligation not to send Odinaev to anywhere he could face torture or ill-treatment, such as Tajikistan, and it should abide by those international commitments. Tajik authorities should immediately stop retaliating against the relatives of dissidents abroad.”


Farhod Odinaev and Mahmudjon Faizrahmon are activists and former political leaders of the Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan (IRPT). IRPT, then the country’s largest opposition group, was forcibly dissolved and banned from the country in 2015 at the request of Tajikistan’s prosecutor general and under the order of the High Court of Tajikistan, which classified it as a terrorist group. As Odinaev, Faizrahmon, and other former IRPT leaders continue to work in exile from Europe to raise awareness of gross human rights violations in Tajikistan, those affiliated with IRPT and their relatives continue to face persecution by the Tajik government. There have been several cases over the last four years of transnational repression of activists, or detention of their family members who remain in Tajikistan.

Tajikistan is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2019.



For more information, please contact:

Freedom House, Marc Behrendt (English, Russian): [email protected]

Human Rights Watch, Steve Swerdlow (English, Russian): [email protected]

Human Rights Watch is an independent, non-governmental, non-partisan, international human rights organization that monitors, researches and advocates on human rights abuses in more than 100 countries worldwide.