Critically Ill Son Of Tajik Opposition Member Gets Travel Document After International Outcry

The critically ill son of a Tajik opposition member and his mother have received travel documents enabling the 4-year-old boy to receive treatment abroad following an outcry from international rights groups.

Relatives of Ruhullo Tillozoda -- a leading member of the banned Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), who is in self-imposed exile abroad -- told RFE/RL on August 1 that his son, Hamza, and wife, Mizhgona Zainiddinova, received travel documents.

The news comes five days after Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC) issued a joint statement urging Tajik authorities to lift "a politically motivated travel ban" and allow the boy to receive medical treatment abroad.

In a joint statement on July 27, the two rights groups said that the boy, who is also the grandson of IRPT leader Muhiddin Kabiri, has life-threatening Stage-3 testicular cancer that doctors in Tajikistan have not been able to treat.

Tillozoda and Kabiri left Tajikistan in 2015 to evade persecution by the state, which branded the IRPT a terrorist group and outlawed it that year.

On July 27, Tajik Deputy Health Minister Saida Umarzoda drew further criticism when she told reporters that Hamza Tillozoda's cancer cannot be treated and therefore "there is no need for him to travel abroad."

HRW and NHC said an oncology clinic in Turkey was ready to examine and treat the child.

Critics say Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, who has been in power for more than a quarter-century, and his government have intensified a crackdown on the opposition since 2015. Dozens of IRPT officials have been arrested and many of them jailed.

On July 31, the Interior Ministry blamed the IRPT for an attack that killed four foreign cyclists in southern Tajikistan the previous day. The IRPT denies involvement.