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TAJIKISTAN: JW Shamil Khakimov (70), prisoner of conscience adopted by USCIRF

Human Rights Without Frontiers calls upon the Tajik authorities to release the two Jehovah’ Witnesses and the 15 Sunni Muslims that are behind because of their peaceful religious activities. See HRWF Database of Prisoners: https://hrwf.eu/prisoners-database/

HRWF (26.02.2021) – On 24 February, USCIRF Commissioner Nury Turkel adopted 70-year-old Shamil Khakimov, who has been in prison in Tajikistan for nearly two years (link to news release).  Shamil is is serving a 7.5-year- prison term for simply practicing his Christian beliefs as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. A detailed history of Shamil’s case can be found in the 2019 OSCE HDIM report, here.

Jarrod Lopes, spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses, says: “USCIRF has consistently condemned Tajikistan for its discriminatory assault on Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Commissioner Turkel’s statement today, along with his announcement of adopting Shamil, is the latest by a number of international actors who have likewise denounced Tajikistan. We hope soon Tajikistani authorities will halt the persecution and honor its international obligation to provide true freedom of religion as a State party to the ICCPR. Jehovah’s Witnesses want nothing more than to peacefully worship in Tajikistan as they do in over 200 other lands.”

Tajikistan Ignores UN Human Rights Committee (CCPR) Decisions

On August 22, 2019, the CCPR released its Concluding Observations on Tajikistan (CCPR/C/TJK/CO/3), stating in part:

“The Committee remains concerned (see CCPR/C/TJK/CO/2, para. 20) that the interference by the State in religious affairs, worship and freedom of religion and the ensuing restrictions, as those set out below, are incompatible with the Covenant . . . (g) restrictions imposed on Christian religious minorities, including Jehovah’s Witnesses (art. 18).”—para. 43.

“The State party should guarantee the effective exercise of freedom of religion and belief and freedom to manifest a religion or belief in law and practice. It should revise all relevant laws and practices with a view to removing all restrictions that go beyond the narrowly construed restrictions permitted under article 18 of the Covenant.”—para. 44.

The government has not yet taken steps to implement the CCPR decisions.

Over 13 years ago, on October 11, 2007, Tajikistan’s Ministry of Culture cancelled the Witnesses’ registration and effectively banned their religious activity.

Among other things, Jehovah’s Witnesses are imprisoned for conscientious objection (CO) to military service. Rustamjon Norov is serving a 3.5-year prison sentence for CO. He requested alternative civilian service so he can continue to contribute to society, but ACS is not an option in Tajikistan.

Source: Communications Officer and Spokesman, Office of Public Information, World Headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses





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TAJIKISTAN: Two years in prison for a conscientious objector

– HRWF (04.04.2020) – On 1 April, a Tajik military court sentenced 20-year old Jovidon Bobojonov, a Jehovah’s Witness objecting to military service. He had been in pretrial detention for six months. During his detention, military unit personnel had beaten him multiple times to intimidate him into serving in the military.
The UN Human Rights Committee has addressed the matter of conscientious objection to military service in Tajikistan on three occasions. In 2005, 2013, and 2019, the Committee strongly recommended that Tajikistan recognize the right to conscientious objection.
Most recently, on 22 August 2019, the Committee released its Concluding Observations on Tajikistan and strengthened its earlier findings by stating:
§46. “The State party should step up its efforts to adopt the legislation necessary to recognize the right to conscientious objection to military service without discrimination as to the nature of the beliefs (religious or non-religious beliefs grounded in conscience) justifying the objection, and to ensure that alternative service is not punitive or discriminatory in nature or duration by comparison with military service.” (link to original CCPR report)
The ICCPR protects the right of conscientious objectors to refuse to perform military service.
Additional Background
On 4 October 2019, military officers in the city of Khujand abducted Jovidon Bobojonov from his home and took him to an enlistment office, where he was placed into custody.
He was subsequently transferred to military unit No. 45075, where he was pressured to take the military oath of allegiance. On one occasion, when he refused to put on the military uniform, six military unit members aassaulted him. They twisted his arms behind his back and forced him to the ground. Jovidon’s head was pressed with an army boot to the floor, his neck was clamped with their knees. When he tried to resist, they beat him in the kidneys. The men tried to take off his pants and put on the military uniform pants. The more he resisted, the more they pressed on his neck with his knee. Then he passed out. When he woke up, he was bound. He was seated on a chair but could not keep his balance, so someone held him in the chair so that he would not fall off.
As of March, he had been in custody at the KGB temporary detention facility in Dushanbe.
Jovidon’s parents, who are also Jehovah’s Witnesses, have filed complaints with numerous Tajik officials, including the Presidential Administration and the Ombudsman Office. The Tajik authorities claim that since a law on alternative service has not been adopted, Bobojonov’s actions constitute a crime and therefore his abduction was lawful.
Address of hearing: Military Court of Military Post of Dushanbe, 1 Negmat Karabayev av.  (Таджикистан, Душанбе, просп. Негмата Карабаева 1, Военный суд Душанбинского гарнизона)
Source: Headquarters of Jehovah’ s Witnesses
 

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