Tajik students come out against EU call for release of Tajik opposition activists

17/06/2016 15:09
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DUSHANBE, June 17, 2016, Asia-Plus – A meeting of students took place at Tajik National University in Dushanbe today.

The meeting participants reportedly included activists of the student movement from all regions of the country – students from higher educational institutions of Dushanbe, Khatlon, Sughd, and the Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO).

They came out against the policy of the European Union and the European Parliament’s call for release of the jailed leading members and activists of the Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) and their defense lawyers.

“We invite representatives of the European Union to arrive in Tajikistan in order to make sure that all convicts in the republic got fair sentences and meet with victims of fraud actions of lawyers Buzurgmehr Yorov, Shuhrat Qudratov, Nuoriddin Mahkamov,” the students said.  

“Can it really be democracy to demand release of terrorists?  If so, we can tell them that we have our own democracy that obeys the legislation of Tajikistan, and those who violate it will answer in law, irrespective of their political views.  Double standards used by some countries have caused bloody events in Syria, Libya, Iraq,” activist of the student movement, Asliddin Khoushvakhtov, said.

“The Islamic Revival Part has betrayed Tajikistan and the European Parliament should know that one day it will betray the European Union too,” Khoushvakhtov noted.  

We will recall that the Supreme Court on June 2 sentenced the deputy IRPT heads Saidumar Husaini and Mahmadali Hayit to life imprisonment.  Eleven other IRPT activists were sentenced to jail terms ranging from 14 to 28 years.  Zarafo Rahmoni, the party's lawyer and the only woman in the high-profile trial, was sentenced to two years in prison.

They were arrested on September 16 and 17 last year 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, 2015 on the basis of a suit filed by the Prosecutor-General’s Office.  

On June 9, the European Parliament adopted a special resolution on Tajikistan: situation of prisoners of conscience.

In its resolution, the European Parliament, in particular, expresses deep concern at the sentencing of the IRPT leading members and activists and calls for the immediate and unconditional release of everyone imprisoned on politically motivated charges and in particular the lawyers providing assistance to the leaders of the main opposition party.

It also urges the Tajik authorities to stop using religious extremism and the legitimate fight against terrorism as an excuse for clamping down on opposition and silence civil society and to allow the Islamic Revival Party, Group 24, and other peaceful opposition groups to operate freely and exercise the freedoms of assembly, association, expression, and religion, in accordance with international human rights norms and Tajikistan’s constitution.

The European Parliament calls on the Tajik authorities to ensure all detainees and prisoners their due process rights, including access to counsel of their choosing and visits with relatives and to immediately stop persecuting lawyers who seek to represent opposition members. 

It should be noted that it is not the first case of involvement of Tajik students in fight against the opposition. 

On February 22, a group of Tajik students numbering about 60 people gathered outside the Turkish Embassy in Dushanbe demanding extradition of “traitors of the Homeland.”

On the same day, they also gathered outside the building of the Delegation of the European Union to Tajikistan voicing the same demand.

About 70 young people gathered outside the building of the Delegation of the European Union to Tajikistan on February 20 demanding extradition of the leader of the banned Islamic Revival Party, Muhiddin Kabiri, to Tajikistan.

Besides, such demonstrations were organized in front of the U.S. and German embassies on November 19 last year.

In October, a petition was started up at the Tajik National University demanding the extradition of critics of the government currently based abroad.  Backers of the petition, which called for countries hosting IRPT leader Muhiddin Kabiri, the head of the Vatandor opposition movement, Dodojon Atovulloyev, and former Prime Minister Abdumalik Abdullojonov to be handed over, say they have got signatures of support from 400 students across multiple universities.

According to organizers of the initiative, the appeals were submitted to legislators in the United States, Germany, and the European Union.     


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