EURASIA LIFT

Human Rights Issues in Eurasia / Правовые Вопросы В Регионах Евразии

Tajikistan: BBC Reporter Charged with Extremism, Denied Lawyer

Posted by Info on 20/06/2011

BBC Uzbek Service correspondent Urinboy Usmonov, 59, disappeared on June 13. Two days later, investigators took him home to search for evidence. Family members present say Usmonov appears to have been beaten.

Usmonov has been officially charged with inciting religious and racial hatred, participating in an organized criminal group, and extremism. Authorities say Usmonov is a member of Hizb-ut-Tahrir, a group that seeks to establish an Islamic state in Central Asia, but which is avowedly non-violent. “For a long time Usmonov maintained contacts with party representatives in Tajikistan and abroad; he actively participated in the preparation and dissemination of printed materials promoting Hizb-ut-Tahrir’s ideas on the forcible seizure of power and changing of the constitutional regime,” said a June 18 statement from the State Security Service, Tajikistan’s KGB-successor agency.

Usmonov’s colleagues and media rights activists insist he was arrested because of his critical voice. For years he has reported on the authorities’ efforts to silence expressions of Islam. Tajikistan has jailed over 500 people for membership in Hizb-ut-Tahrir in the past ten years, 40 have already been convicted this year.

There is little doubt that Usmonov was arrested because of his journalistic activities.
Using the fight against extremism in order to crack down on dissidents is standard practice in Tajikistan.

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