The UN special rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, has denounced the lengthy sentences imposed on the leadership of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT).
“The harsh sentencing of multiple opposition leaders reflects the steady increase of restrictions on freedom of expression in Tajikistan,” Kaye said in a June 7 statement. “The crackdown on IRPT over the last year silenced one of the few opposition voices in the country.”
“Imposing such drastic and arbitrary measures against opposition and religious leaders is not only unacceptable but dangerous as it only helps to radicalize those pushed out of public debate,” the UN special rapporteur added.
IRPT deputy heads Saidumar Husaini and Muhammad Hayit were sentenced to life imprisonment on June 2, while 11 other high-ranking party officials were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 14 to 28 years.
They were found guilty of conspiring in a supposed armed bid to seize power in early September 2015.
Authorities blamed the IRPT for organizing the mutiny, while the Supreme Court banned the party, designating it an "extremist and terrorist organization."
Party leader Muhiddin Kabiri, who now lives in exile, rejected the accusations.