Tajik authorities report arrest of 23 leading members of the IRP

06/10/2015 10:44
Asia-Plus
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DUSHANBE, October 6, 2015, Asia-Plus – To-date, twenty-three leading members of the Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan (IRP) have been arrested, a statement released by the Prosecutor-General’s Office today says.

Criminal proceedings against them and detained followers of the mutinous general Abduhalim Nazarzoda have reportedly been instituted under the provisions of six articles of Tajikistan’s Penal Code: Article 179 – terrorism; Article 187 – organizing a criminal group; Article 189 – incitement of ethnic, racial, regional or religious enmity; Article 306 – forcible seizure of power; Article 307 – public calls for extremist activity; and Article 313 – armed mutiny.

The statement also notes that the banning of the IRP does not mean that criminal proceedings will be instituted against its law-abiding ordinary members.  

We will recall that Tajikistan’s Supreme Court on September 29 banned the Islamic Revival Party (IRP) as terrorist group on the basis of a suit filed by the Prosecutor-General’s Office.  The verdict forces the closure of the IRPT's official newspaper Najot (Salvation) and bans the distribution of any video, audio, or printed materials related to the party's activities.

Founded in October 1990, the Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan is the only Islamic party officially registered in former Soviet Central Asia.  The IRP was registered on December 4, 1991.  It was banned by the Supreme Court in June 1993 and legalized in August 1999.  According to some sources, the IRP now has some 40,000 members.

Since 1999, the party has reportedly been the second-largest party in Tajikistan after the ruling People's Democratic Party of Tajikistan.

In the 2005 and 2010 parliamentary elections, the IRP won two out of 63 seats in the parliament, but the party suffered a crushing defeat in Tajikistan's March 1 vote, failing to clear the 5 percent threshold needed to win parliament seats.

Imams at several mosques across Tajikistan in March urged Muslims to support the closure of the Islamic Revival Party, calling for a referendum to dissolve the party.  A letter distributed to imams before Friday Prayers on March 27 said that dissolving the party would help Tajikistan “avoid the fate of other nations where Islamic extremists are disrupting peace and order.”  The letter is believed to have been circulated by a state-backed Islamic center that often sends imams recommended texts for sermons.

IRP leader Muhiddin Kabiri went into exile in June fearing prosecution.  In early June the state-run newspaper Jumhuriyat published an article accusing IRP leader, who was out of the country at the time, of breaking the law during a property transaction 16 years ago.

With Kabiri in exile, the party seems to have imploded. In June, heads of IRP’s organizations in the regions started resigning and closing their offices.  They cited the party’s poor performance in the elections and a series of scandals involving members for their move.  Some of the party activists vowed to join the ruling People’s Democratic Party.

The government last mother ordered the closure of the Islamic Revival Party.

Tajik authorities have linked mutinous deputy defense to the IRP.  They said mutinous general Abduhalim Nazarzoda, who was killed in a special security operation in the Romit Gorge on September 16, was allegedly linked to the Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan.

On September 16, the authorities arrested 13 leading members of the IRPT, alleging their direct involvement into the mutiny's masterminding.

Meanwhile, the Islamic Revival party denies link to Nazarzoda’s deadly mutiny.

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