Human Rights Organization Demands Release of Tajik Journalist

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The Washington DC.-based human rights organization Freedom Now and the American law firm Dechert LLP have sent a letter to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, calling for the release of the Tajik journalist and human rights activist Mamadsulton Mavlonazarov.

The letter says that the 72-year-old Mavlonazarov, also known as Muhammadi Sulton, was imprisoned for criticizing Tajikistan’s authorities. The journalist, a former state security colonel, was arrested in 2022 and sentenced to seven and a half years in prison on charges of publicly calling for a violent change in the constitutional order, and insulting representatives of the authorities through the media or the internet.

In their appeal to the UN, the signees state that Mavlonazarov’s current condition is unsatisfactory, and voice fears for his health. He has severe swelling of his legs and kidney problems, due to which he has been hospitalized several times.

“We hope that the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention will conclude that Mavlonazarov’s detention violates his fundamental right to freedom of expression, in violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and he should be released,” the letter reads.

It is also reported that after he resigned from the state security agencies, Mavlonazarov became a journalist, and was repeatedly threatened for his critical articles, which were published on his Facebook page. Human rights activists claim that he was convicted for his posts and comments about the May 2022 events in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAR).

Mavlonazarov’s detention came in June 2022 after he sharply criticized Tajik security forces’ “counter-terrorism” operation in Rushan district and Khorog, which, according to official figures, resulted in 16 deaths and, according to independent sources, about 40. A month earlier, the Tajik authorities had announced the “neutralization of an organized criminal group” in GBAR.

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Times of Central Asia