Tajik authorities reportedly persecute IRP leader’s relatives and friends

08/01/2016 10:08
RFE/RL
Views: 10399

DUSHANBE, January 8, 2016, Asia-Plus – An article “The Islamic Party, the Reporter, and the Virginity Test” by Mirzo Salimov and Frud Bezhan posted on Radio Liberty’s website on January 7 notes that Tajik authorities have been relentless in their  pursuit of relatives and friends of the banned Islamic revival Party (IRP) leader Muhiddin Kabiri.

Seven family members have reportedly been questioned; his 95-year-old father was prevented from traveling to Turkey for medical treatment; and a suspected lover was compelled to undergo a virginity test to clear her good name.

Tajik journalist Haramgul Qodir freely admits that she was in “love” with Kabiri, who faces charges of attempting to overthrow the government and has been branded a terrorist by Dushanbe. Her love, however, was unrequited, Qodir tells RFE/RL's Tajik Service.

“Anyone who asked me, including the authorities, I told that there was no relationship between us,” Qodir said.  “Yes, there was greetings and friendship, but that’s all. I have a good relationship with all officials. However, that doesn’t mean I have a personal relationship with all of them.”

Nevertheless, she was subjected to months of harassment and questioning by Tajik authorities, who believed she had had an affair with Kabiri, a married man.

Her bank accounts frozen and feeling pressured by authorities, Qodir agreed to take a virginity test to protect her honor.

Law-enforcement officials took Qodir up on her offer, and she was accompanied to a medical facility where she submitted herself to a virginity test.

Qodir, a former RFE/RL Tajik Service contributor, said that while the test proved she was telling the truth, her bank accounts remained frozen during her subsequent trip to Turkey for medical treatment.

Kabiri’s current whereabouts are unknown, although he is rumored to be in Turkey.  The 50-year-old was last seen publicly at an international conference in Iran, where he attended the International Conference of Islamic Unity on December 27-29 and was seated next to the head of Tajikistan's state-backed Council of Islamic Ulema and other members of the official delegation from Tajikistan.

Tajik authorities expressed “deep concern” over Kabiri's invitation to the conference.

Tajikistan has arrested more than 20 top IRP officials since the party was suspended in late August and subsequently banned by the Supreme Court as an "extremist and terrorist organization."

The court decision came after the government blamed the party for organizing September 4 attacks on a police station and an arsenal near Dushanbe that killed 26 people.

Authorities say the attacks were carried out by an armed group led by Abduhalim Nazarzoda, a deputy defense minister who was later killed.  IRP officials have rejected connections to Nazarzoda or the insurrection and have called the arrests of party officials politically motivated.

Human rights groups have also condemned the crackdown as politically motivated.

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