Thursday, February 22nd, 2024

Chair Cardin to Tajikistan President Rahmon: End Your Government’s Use of Transnational Repression

“I urge you to immediately end the repression of peaceful demonstrators, community leaders, journalists and activists in Tajikistan, as well as all forms of transnational repression that your government is pursuing abroad, including the issuance of Interpol red notices to forcibly repatriate dissidents.”

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, recently sent a letter to the President of Tajikistan, Emomali Rahmon, urging him to cease acts of domestic and transnational repression against political opponents and religious minorities. The letter comes ahead of Chair Cardin hosting a full committee hearing on transnational repression on Wednesday, December 6, at 10:00am ET.

As first reported by Jael Holzman of Axios, Chair Cardin urged President Rahmon to end his “government’s ongoing repression of peaceful opposition figures, journalists, and civil society members, both when they are in Tajikistan and when abroad,” adding that “there are persistent reports of arbitrary arrest, denial of judicial due process, as well as acts of violence including torture, assault and even instances of murder of journalists, political dissidents, as well as community and religious leaders. The ongoing crackdown on ethnic and religious minorities, their local organizations and leaders, in the Gorno-Badakhshan region, in particular, is especially troubling.”

According to Freedom House, Tajikistan is one of the world’s foremost perpetrators of transnational repression, which is notable given the small size of the nation. The organization estimates that in 2022 alone, eleven opposition and religious figures were forcibly returned to Tajikistan from Russia, and many of them are now in prison on spurious charges.

A link to Jael Holzman’s Axios story can be found here.

A copy of the letter can be found here and below.

Dear Mr. President,

I write to express concern regarding your government’s ongoing harsh treatment of political opponents, human rights and civil society actors.

As Tajikistan seeks to benefit from increased international engagement, foreign trade and investment, the government of Tajikistan must make progress towards fulfilling its commitments under the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights and the Helsinki Final Act and other commitments undertaken in the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe (OSCE). Specifically, I appeal to you to end your government’s ongoing repression of peaceful opposition figures, journalists, and civil society members, both when they are in Tajikistan and when abroad. There are persistent reports of arbitrary arrest, denial of judicial due process, as well as acts of violence including torture, assault and even instances of murder of journalists, political dissidents, as well as community and religious leaders. The ongoing crackdown on ethnic and religious minorities, their local organizations and leaders, in the Gorno-Badakhshan region, in particular, is especially troubling.

According to the U.S. Department of State’s 2022 Country Report on Human Rights, your government used intimidation and abused judicial procedures to engage in repression against individuals outside of Tajikistan’s borders – also known as transnational repression – targeting political opponents, civil society activists, human rights defenders and journalists. Freedom House, whose research and publications are widely respected internationally, found that Tajikistan accounted for nearly one third of all recorded global incidents of direct physical transnational repression, in addition to countless incidences of digital harassment and intimidation.

I urge you to immediately end the repression of peaceful demonstrators, community leaders, journalists and activists in Tajikistan, as well as all forms of transnational repression that your government is pursuing abroad, including the issuance of Interpol red notices to forcibly repatriate dissidents.

The United States wants to strengthen its growing partnership with Tajikistan.  Bolstering human rights and the rule of law will reap long-lasting benefits for Tajikistan through increased influence, foreign investment, tourism, and trade.

I look forward to hearing your reply, and to exploring ways the United States can support your government’s reform efforts.

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