Tajikistan’s hunt against the opposition took a grim turn this week with the disappearance of the wife and son of the jailed deputy leader of the banned Islamic Renaissance Party, or IRPT.
This reported development follows an article published on the IRPT website on August 18 alleging Mahmadali Hayit had been severely beaten in prison and was pleading to see his relatives.
“Hayit asked to see his lawyers or his family, but the request was rejected. Afterward, he asked for a paper and pencil to write a complaint, after which he was beaten by law enforcement personnel. As a result of the beatings, he has sustained broken arms and legs,” Payom.net reported.
On August 20, Hayit’s wife, Savrinisso Jurayeva announced that the Supreme Court had given clearance for her to meet her spouse for half an hour. Her initial comment was to calm fears about the alleged beatings.
“Everything is normal with him, he wasn’t beaten, he is walking normally, he smiled all the time. He reads all the time. The only pain is in his heart, because of the lack of freedom,” she said.
But the BBC’s Russian service reported on August 22, citing Hayit’s relatives, that a group of people barged its way into the house where Jurayeva lives with her 17-year son Firuz Hayit.
“Several people in civilian clothing used to force to get into Mahmadali Hayit’s apartment, ransacked the place, and then took away his wife and son. They told them that they were taking them away to a precinct of the State Committee for National Security (GKNB). They refused to introduce themselves or show their documents. Nobody knows now where [Hayit’s] wife and son are or what has happened to them,” one relative told the BBC Russian service.
The GKNB has denied having anything to do with Jurayeva and Firuz Haiti’s disappearance.
Jurayeva’s phone has been turned off and unreachable since her reported kidnapping. Another son, a 14-year old suffering from health problems with his liver, has been left behind at their home.
The situation with jailed IRPT members has reached a critical stage.
At least two party members have died in detention in recent weeks. On August 16, Ozadagon news website reported that 74-year old Kurbon Mannonov, who was head of the local branch of the IRPT in the town of Nurek, died at detention facility (SIZO) NO. 1 in Dushanbe. Earlier in the month, relatives of another IRPT member, 55-year old Nozimdjon Tashripov, said he too had died behind bars. Authorities handed over Tashripov’s body to his relatives, who reported that he bore signs of torture all over his body.
These alarming reports have deepened worries over the condition of yet another leading IRPT figure languishing in jail, Hikmatullo Sayfullozoda.
Advocacy group Reporters Without Borders released a statement two weeks ago registering its distress over reports that Sayfullozoda, who is serving a 16-year jail term on trumped-up charges of involvement in an attempted coup, is being “subjected to various forms of mistreatment including sleep deprivation.” RSF said Sayfullozoda is suffering from problems with his heart and pain in his legs, one which is possibly gangrenous.
The US Embassy in Dushanbe said in an email to EurasiaNet.org that it was aware of the Reporters Without Borders statement about Sayfullozoda.
“We remain concerned about reports of torture and mistreatment of prisoners by the Tajik government, which we have documented in our annual Human Rights Report,” the Embassy said. “We regularly urge the Tajik government to address longstanding concerns about its prison conditions and treatment of prisoners.”
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