Call for action: #FreeDaler Sharipov immediately!

On 28 January, the staff of the State Committee for the National Security (SCNS) of Tajikistan summoned journalist and civil society activist, Daler Sharipov, to their local branch in Shahmansur District of Dushanbe (Tajik Capital) ‘for conversation’ and then arrested him.

He was kept and interrogated there for 24 hours in suspicious circumstances without the presence of his lawyer and without being allowed to inform his family members of his whereabouts – in violation of the Criminal Procedural Code of Tajikistan.

On 29 January, he was taken to the SCNS headquarters for further interrogations after the media reported his disappearance and arrest.

In the afternoon of 30 January, he was taken to the Ismail Samani District Court which ruled to hold him in custody for two months. His lawyer was able to see him only in the courtroom and had to give a written undertaking not to disclose the details of the case.

Mr. Sharipov was charged with inciting national, racial, ethnic, regional and religious hatred (article 189 of the Criminal Code of Tajikistan). According to government sources, in his ‘not yet published’ book titled “[Prophet] Mohammad and Terrorism”, Daler Sharipov cited and referenced authors that are apparently banned in Tajikistan.

Daler Sharifov is popular among the media and journalistic community in Tajikistan and is known as a brave journalist loyal to his profession and professional ethics.

He was an initiator of a campaign against regional discrimination in his several years ago, for which he was beaten up by, so far, unidentified people in Tajikistan. The perpetrators of this and other violent acts against independent journalists in Tajikistan over the past three decades have still not been brought to justice.

Daler Sharipov has been regularly spoken out against religious extremism and terrorism by using his detailed and extensive knowledge of Islam. By publishing this book (“Mohammad and Terrorism”) he was about to contribute to the efforts of Tajik intellectuals to prevent and combat religious radicalism. We are sure that public scrutiny of his book bears this out.

The Europen Congress of Tajik Journalists and Bloggers condemns the detention of Daler Sharipov and considers his detention to be unjust and unlawful. We believe that there is no justification for him being in SCNS custody, as he is neither able to influence the course of the investigation against him, nor flee the country. Moreover, hundreds of social activists are ready to guarantee he would remain in his home country.

We are certain that this action of the Tajik authorities will damage the country’s reputation and will undermine people’s trust in the government and may give rise to social tensions.

We, therefore, appeal to the government of Tajikistan, and namely, President Emamali Rahman, not to be indifferent to the flagrant violation of human rights in this case and to take immediate legal measures to release Daler Sharipov from custody.

We urge members of the civil society of Tajikistan and the international community to join the campaign to #FreeDaler Sharipov.

The European Congress of Tajik Journalists and Bloggers

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