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Human Rights Groups Say Sick Tajik Boy Victim of Politically Motivated Travel Ban

Critically ill boy, needing treatment abroad, is the grandson of leader of banned party.

30 July 2018

Human Rights Watch (HRW) says that 4-year-old Ibrohim Tillozoda is being denied permission by Tajik authorities to travel and receive potentially life-saving medical treatment outside of the country.

 

Ibrohim has stage-three testicular cancer but, HRW says, the authorities are preventing him from traveling because he is the child of opposition member Ruhullo Tillozoda, who left Tajikistan in 2015 to escape persecution at the hands of the government. Ibrohim is also the grandson of Muhiddin Kabiri, the chair of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), a  political party forced into exile in 2015. Kabiri also fled abroad.

 

At the time, government officials confiscated all travel documents and birth certificates from Ibrohim’s mother, Mizhgona, effectively stopping any other family members from stepping foot outside of the country. According to HRS, other family members have seen their mobile phones taken away and have not been allowed to communicate with anyone outside of their village.

 

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty suggests (RFE/RL) that the saga involving the Tillozoda family is part of a long-running attempt to destabilize the IRPT after forcing the political party into exile. The government accused its leaders of organizing a coup and branded the group a terrorist organization in 2015. Since then, the authorities have carried out the arrests of hundreds of party members, incarcerating numerous peaceful activists and opposition members along with their lawyers, say critics.

 

Several attempts by Tajik doctors have been unsuccessful in treating Ibrohim’s life-threatening condition, prompting medical experts to state that treatment abroad is the only viable option to save the child’s life.

 

“It is morally reprehensible that Tajik authorities appear to be holding a critically ill child hostage to exert pressure on his father and grandfather,” said Steve Swerdlow, Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch, in a statement. “This case should not be about politics, but about a child’s life.”

 

The Internal Affairs Ministry, responsible for issuing new travel documents, has not ensured an alternative method of travel for the family, despite claiming that the family is free to travel as it wishes, HRW says.

 

 

  • Khairullo Mirsaidov, a Tajik comedian and journalist, was recently handed a 12-year prison term for allegedly forging documents and providing false testimony after being arrested on 5 December. His imprisonment has been met with condemnation as an attempt made by the government to shut out any vocal opponents.

 

  • Coinciding with the crackdown on the IRPT in 2016, Tajik dissidents who previously fled Tajikistan and traveled to Turkey for safety have been actively targeted and extradited back to Tajikistan. Turkey has complied with Tajik President Emomali Rahmon’s request to bring Tajik “terrorists” back to the country, permitting Tajik agents to “kidnap, monitor, and intimidate Tajik exiles,” Central Asia analyst Edward Lemon writes.
Compiled by Tyler Haughn
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