Leading member of the banned Islamic Revival Party reportedly dies in jail

17/08/2016 09:12
Asia-Plus
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DUSHANBE, August 17, 2016, Asia-Plus – A leading member of the banned Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) jailed for purportedly showing support for the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in the city of Norak has reportedly died in jail.

Online news outlet Ozodagon reported yesterday that Qurbon Mannonov, 73, died in detention facility # 1 in Dushanbe overnight.

The 73-year-old Qurbon Mannonov was the head of the IRPTs branch in the city of Norak, 70 kilometers southeast of Dushanbe.

Ozodagon, citing sources in the IRPT, reported that Mannonov had recently complained of ill-health and bleeding.

Mannonov and 12 others were arrested in August 2015.  He was accused of masterminding the raising of an IS flag in Norak.  Mannonov rejected the charges as being politically motivated.

In February, the Khatlon regional court sentenced the detained party members to prison terms of between 10 and 25 years.  The sentence followed their conviction on charges of membership in a criminal organization, public calls for the overturning of the constitutional order and extremist activity.

Meanwhile, concern mounts over the state of health of another leading IRPT, Hikmatullo Sayfullozoda.   The editor of Najot (Salvation) weekly, an IRPT mouthpiece, Sayfullozoda was arrested on September 16, 2015, at the same time as the IRPT’s leaders, and was sentenced to 16 years in prison on June 2, 2016. 

Advocacy group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) released a statement on August 11 calling on the Tajik authorities to give him access to the medical care he needs without delay.  RSF notes it has received alarming information about imprisoned journalist Hikmatullo Sayfullozoda’s state of health, which is deteriorating dangerously, and calls on the Tajik authorities to give him access to the medical care he needs without delay.  RSF said Sayfullozoda is suffering from problems with his heart and pain in his legs, one which is possibly gangrenous.

Recall that two deputy heads of the banned IRPT were sentenced to life imprisonment on June 2, 2016.  Eleven other IRPT leading members and activists were sentenced to jail terms ranging from 14 to 28 years.

They were arrested on September 16 and 17 after completion of the operation against the armed group of Abduhalim Nazarzoda.

In a statement released on September 17, the Prosecutor-General's Office noted that they are suspected of abetting party leader Kabiri's plot, saying that they had been arrested “to prevent more terrorist attacks in the country.”

Tajikistan’s Supreme Court banned the Islamic Revival Party as terrorist group on September 29 on the basis of a suit filed by the Prosecutor-General’s Office.  The Supreme Court ruled that the IRP should be included on a blacklist of extremist and terrorist organizations.  The verdict forces the closure of the IRP's official newspaper Najot and bans the distribution of any video, audio, or printed materials related to the party's activities.

Party leader Muhiddin Kabiri, who now lives in exile, has rejected the accusations.

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