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HRWF (14.09.2016) – In August 2015, the Tajik government, headed by President Emomali Rahmonov, declared the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) a terrorist organization and banned it. As a result, all party activities have been criminalized; moreover, its leaders and members have been subject to arrests and heavy prison sentences.

Following months of harassment of its members, the IRPT lost its two remaining seats in Parliament in the March 2015 elections. On 28 August, the Ministry of Justice ordered the IRPT to cease its activities by 7 September, claiming it lacked sufficient popular support to qualify as a registered party. In September, thirteen high-ranking members of the IRPT were arrested on charges of involvement in “criminal groups,” linking them to violence that had erupted on 4 September, which the party’s exiled leader, Mukhiddin Kabiri, refuted.

On 29 September 2015, the High Court classified the IRPT as a terrorist group, with the government alleging that the party, that had 40,000 supporters, was planning a coup. As a result, all of the Party’s materials, including their official website and newspaper were closed.

After the ban of the IRPT, many members and leaders went into exile. Muhiddin Kabiri, IRPT’s leader, was put on a wanted list, and, predicting a crackdown, he left Tajikistan to wait in self-imposed exile in Turkey. His whereabouts are currently unknown. Opponents to Rahmonov are nowhere safe in the world. On 5 March 2015, Umarali Kuvvatov, a founding member of a Tajikistan opposition group, was killed in Turkey. Other political activists received death threats, and there were attempted assassinations of dissenters from Tajikistan in foreign countries in recent years.

Lea Perekrests has analyzed for Human Rights Without Frontiers the history and political philosophy of this party which since its inception has tried to reconcile Islam and democracy.

See her 30-page research paper “The Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan” at: http://bit.ly/2cMubq2

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