Activist Returned to Tajikistan Against His Will

By: Katherine Hewitt
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

BISHKEK, Tajikistan – A Tajik man, Namunjon Sharipov, was extradited back to his come country on February 19, 2018 against his own will. Sharipov was living in Turkey at the time when Turkish forces arrested him on the 16th.

Image of Namunjon Sharipov in Turkey. Photo Courtesy of the Sharipov family.

Sharipov immigrated to Turkey in 2015 after political turmoil in Tajikistan. He is a high-ranking member of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), an opposition party of the Tajik government. The party was deemed a terrorist organization after a coup attempt on the Tajik government. There were no links between the IRPT and the coup. Nevertheless, several members of the party were arrested and found guilty.

On February 2nd, Tajik officials appeared at Sharipov’s business, a tea house, to encourage him to return to Tajikistan voluntarily and denounce the IRPT. The officials offered him money and ‘whatever he wanted.’ However, Sharipov gave no definite answer.

In the following days, the interactions became more heated. The officials threatened to cause problems for Sharipov if he did not comply with their request.

Turkish police became involved on February 5th when they arrested Sharipov on the street outside his tea house. The officials at the detention house, where he was taken, notified Sharipov of the Tajik arrest warrant against him for being a terrorist. The officials went further to say that he would not be deported. They suggested that he leave Turkey and travel to a safer country.

However, neither Sharipov nor his lawyer were informed that Tajikistan filed a formal extradition order. His lawyer was preparing travel accommodations to another country for Sharipov on February 19th under the direction of Turkish officials. However on that day, Tajik officials drove Sharipov to the airport and forced him on a plane destined for Tajikistan.

While there are reports that Sharipov notified a Radio Free Europe office in Tajikistan that he was safe and free, there are doubts to the credibility of this. It is believed that he is being held against his will and being forced to make contact with outside sources. There are also concerns about torture as those arrested after the aforementioned coup were reported to have been tortured.

For more information, please see:

National Helsinki Committee – Tajikistan: Activist Forcibly Returned From Turkey – 21 February 2018

Times of Central Asia – Tajikistan: banned Islamic party activist forcibly returned from Turkey – 21 February 2018

Human Rights Watch – Tajikistan: Activist Forcibly Returned From Turkey – 20 February 2018

Author: Katherine Hewitt

Katherine Hewitt is a first year Masters of Arts in International Affairs candidate in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. She is pursuing a concentration in Peace, Security, and Conflict. Her interests lie in ethnic conflicts, particularly in the Post-Soviet Sphere. She expects to graduate in December 2018.

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