Tajikistan’s Human Rights Crisis: Responses to Dushanbe’s Political Crackdown | Freedom House

Tajikistan’s Human Rights Crisis: Responses to Dushanbe’s Political Crackdown

Tuesday, December 15, 2015 - 10:00am to 12:00pm

Freedom House
1850 M Street NW
Suite 1100
Washington D.C. 20036

Join Freedom House for a roundtable discussion on Tajikistan’s human rights crisis 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015
10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Freedom House
1850 M Street NW
Suite 1100
Washington D.C. 20036

Tajikistan’s human rights situation has deteriorated precipitously over the past two years amid an ongoing crackdown on the freedoms of expression and religion, censorship of the internet, and aggressive attempts to jail all political opposition. Following violent skirmishes in September 2014 between Tajik government forces and alleged Islamist militants that made worldwide headlines, President Rahmon stepped up his campaign against the political opposition, ordering the closure of Central Asia’s only legally registered Islamic political party—the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT)—arresting at least 78 of its members, and declaring the IRPT a terrorist organization. At the same time, political opponents abroad, including from the opposition “Group 24,” have been faced with extraditions, kidnappings, enforced disappearances and even assassinations in Russia, Turkey, and other neighboring states. In addition, the crisis is expanding rapidly, with a mass exodus of political activists from the country, and arrests of lawyers, journalists, and others from civil society.

The speakers will provide new, fresh research from the field on Tajikistan’s current human rights crisis. They will also offer recommendations for policy responses by the US government, EU, and other international partners. The round table will be led by representatives of Tajikistan’s embattled civil society as well as experts on the human rights, political, and religious context.

Please RSVP to Nigina Valentini to participate.

Speaker Biographies

Catherine Cosman is a Senior Policy Analyst at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, covering the countries of the former USSR. She has also served on the staff of the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, Human Rights Watch, the Free Trade Union Institute, the National Endowment for Democracy, and RFE/RL. In Estonia, Cosman was the Senior Expert of the OSCE Mission. She received a BA in History from Grinnell College, and a MA and an ABD in Slavic Languages and Literature from Brown University. She also has studied at the Free University of Berlin and the All-Union Institute of Cinematography in Moscow.

Muhitdin Kabiri is the Chairman of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan.

Nate Schenkkan is the Project Director for Nations in Transit, Freedom House’s annual survey of democratic governance from Central Europe to Eurasia. He previously served as Senior Program Officer for Freedom House’s Eurasia programs, covering Turkey and Central Asia. His recent research on Central Asia focuses on the regional economic crisis and the evolution of the Eurasian Economic Union treaty in the wake of the Ukrainian revolution. He is the creator and host of “The Central Asianist Podcast,” a regular interview series with experts and journalists covering the region. Prior to joining Freedom House in 2012, he worked as a journalist in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. His reporting and analysis has been published in Foreign Affairs Online, The Atlantic Online, Eurasianet, World Politics Review, and Russian Analytical Digest. He was the lead researcher and co-author of two Freedom House special reports including The Struggle for Turkey's Internet and Democracy in Crisis: Corruption, Media and Power in Turkey.

Steve Swerdlow, esq. is a Central Asia researcher with Human Rights Watch, where he investigates and advocates on a wide range of issues in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and the post-Soviet region. An attorney with more than fifteen years of experience working on human rights and refugee issues in the former Soviet Union, Swerdlow has headed Human Rights Watch’s Central Asia office in Bishkek, and worked earlier with the Union of Councils of Soviet Jews, the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), the International Organization for Migration (IOM in Russia, and the San Francisco-based law firm Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP. Swerdlow’s scholarly work has focused on human and minority rights in the former Soviet Union, including the plight of the deported Meskhetian Turks.

Sobir Valiev is the deputy head of Group 24, and the deputy head of the Congress of Constructive Forces of Tajikistan.

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