UN human rights office voices concern after Tajikistan bans Islamic political party

According to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the IRPT is the only Islamic political party legally registered in Central Asia and was party to the 1997 inter-Tajik peace agreement. Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for OHCHR, told a press briefing in Geneva that the Supreme Court of Tajikistan banned the IRPT earlier this week after ruling that it was ‘an extremist and terrorist organisation.’ “This decision followed a long-running campaign of pressure, intimidation and a subsequent crackdown by the Government on the IRPT,” she stated. On 17 September, the Office of the Prosecutor General issued an official statement stating that IRPT members were arrested to prevent new terrorist acts and accusing the party of organizing armed groups and instigating violence, including the 4 September attack on a police station, which left 39 people dead, including 14 police officers. At least 13 IRPT members, including from the party leadership, were arrested and detained on 16 and 17 September. The defence lawyer of several IRPT members, Buzurgmehr Yorov, was also arrested and subsequently charged with fraud and forgery. “We call upon the Tajik authorities to ensure that any measures taken in the fight against ‘terrorism’ or ‘extremism’ are fully in line with international human rights law, with full respect for the rights to freedom of religion, opinion, expression, peaceful assembly, and association, participation in public affairs, and the principle of non-discrimination,” said Ms. Shamdasani. “The legality and conditions of detention must be guaranteed in line with relevant international norms and standards,” she added.