Tajikistan Lets Activists' Families Reunite, But HRW Says Crisis Continues

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has welcomed recent decisions by Tajik authorities to allow two children of exiled dissidents to leave the country and reunite with their families who live abroad.

"Even though the government’s actions were very late in coming, it has acted correctly in allowing ordinary Tajik citizens to leave the country," the U.S.-based international rights group said on August 14.

Early in August, Tajik authorities removed 10-year-old Fatima Davlatova, along with her grandmother and uncle, from an international flight just before takeoff. The move stopped them from traveling to Europe to reunite with Fatima’s mother, activist Shabnam Hudoidodova.

But on August 11, following an international outcry, Tajik security officers gave the family new flight tickets to make the journey, HRW said.

Tajik authorities had also prevented 4-year-old Ibrohim Hamza from traveling abroad for necessary medical treatment, before giving him and his mother travel documents on August 1.

Hamza’s father, Ruhullo Tillozoda, is a leading member of the banned Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT).

HRW said Hamza and Davlatova had "effectively been held hostage for years -- banned from leaving the country since a severe human rights crackdown picked up steam in 2015 -- to punish their parents abroad for peaceful political and human rights work.”

Allowing the two children to leave Tajikistan "is only the very tip of the iceberg in terms of ending the government's practice of harassing relatives of exiled activists and politicians, or indeed of ending the human rights crisis that has gripped the country for the last three years," HRW said.

The Khujand City Court is scheduled on August 15 to start hearing an appeal from Tajik journalist Hairullo Mirsaidov, who was sentenced to 12 years in prison in July for alleged financial crimes.

The 39-year-old Mirsaidov and rights groups have rejected the charges as politically motivated.