Frankfurt, Brussels (6/10 – 27)
While Tajik authorities have not been able to lay their hands on their activist opponents living in Europe, they are able to turn the screws on their families and relatives, back in the old country.
The recent case of arrest of family members took place shortly after President Emomali Rahmon’s visit to Germany, to attend a summit of Central Asian leaders, at the end of last month. Throughout Rahmon’s visit, he was trailed by demonstrators holding up placards bearing pictures of political prisoners and calling him a dictator. When Rahmon headed to the Bundestag on September 29, protestors reportedly pelted his convoy with eggs, with one of them reportedly striking the President’s window.
Tajik security services then resorted to arbitrarily punishing people inside Tajikistan for the actions of their relatives overseas. Relatives of Sharoffidin Gadoev, Dilshod Sharifov, Ismoil Mahmadov, Jamshed Sharifov, Behruz Taghoizoda, and Muhammadjon Abdulloev – all members of the opposition Group 24 – were detained over the weekend on unspecified charges.
Opposition activist Sharoffidin Gadoev reported that Oishamo Abdulloeva, his 72-year-old mother, was detained on the morning of October 1. Gadoev, who took responsibility for the September 29 egg attack on Rahmon’s car, said that as the officers were taking his mother away, they angrily asked her why her son dared to call [Rahmon] a dictator and threw eggs at the President’s car in Berlin.
Ubaidullo Saidi, a participant in the protests, wrote in a Facebook post that security services officers had detained his father in the Rasht District. Saidi said agents called him and offered to release the old man on the condition that he return to Tajikistan.
Farhod Odinaev, a German-based Tajik activist, said that security forces came to his home in Tajikistan and wanted to take away his elderly mother, but instead decided to take his nephew. They asked Odinaev’s mother why (Tajiki opposition abroad) would dare to throw eggs at the car of the ‘Leader of the Nation’. Odinaev had spent 43 days in a Belarusian detention center after being detained on a Tajik request in 2019.
Police and security forces in Tajikistan have yet to acknowledge or comment on the arrests. According to RFE/RL sources, Abdulloev was one of more than a dozen people released in the early hours of October 3. At least seven relatives of the oppositions activists – all men – are still being held. Azda.tv, an exiled opposition-run website, has compiled numerous accounts detailing the detention of family members of the overseas opposition. In some families, five to six individuals are at times detained and interrogated about what their sons are up to, participating in protests in Europe, and why they are involved in politics at all.