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Tajikistan: Islamic Renaissance Party Criticizes Jailings

Prague, 15 January 2004 (RFE/RL)-- Tajikistan's Islamic Renaissance Party (IRP) issued a statement late last night, criticizing the 12 January Supreme Court ruling that jailed four IRP members.

The statement hinted that in the wake of the court sentences, the 1997 peace accord that ended five years of civil war may be losing its value. IRP leader Said Abdullo Nuri has demanded an immediate meeting with President Imomali Rakhmonov and Dushanbe Mayor Makhmadsaid Ubaidullaev.

Nuri said yesterday the court decisions were an attempt to discredit the IRP and could threaten the peace in Tajikistan. "[The court sentences] are aimed at discrediting the Islamic Renaissance Party ahead of parliamentary elections. Recently, we have seen such actions by Tajik government officials that would destroy the stability of Tajikistan. I want to say that those actions could destroy the Tajik peace process, the nation's unity and the trust people have for one another," he said.

Tajikistan's Supreme Court found IRP Deputy Chairman Shamsuddin Shamsuddinov guilty of organizing a criminal group, illegally crossing the border, and polygamy. Three other IRP supporters were given prison sentences ranging from 16 to 25 years. Another awaits trial on statutory rape charges.

The IRP has said several times that the amnesty that followed the peace deal should have cleared Shamsuddinov, and the other members, of many of the charges against him.

Nuri expressed disappointment with the verdict against Shamsuddinov, saying he was expecting President Rakhmonov to intervene in Shamsuddinov's case. "Regarding 'Ishon' Shamsuddinov, frankly, we did not expect government officials, especially the respected Imomali Sharipovich [Rakhmonov], to approve of this verdict," he said. "We believed that [Rakhmonov] would free Shamsuddinov because the charges against him amounted to slander."

The IRP statement said, "from day to day, the role of this [peace] accord as a factor of stability in Tajikistan is vanishing from the country, and its fundamental demands and norms are being ignored by politicians." It said the conviction of the IRP members "breaks the terms of the peace agreement," and that the decision against the four IRP supporters was "unfounded and a violation of human rights."

Neither the Tajik government nor the country's Supreme Court has responded to the IRP complaints yet. No meeting between Nuri and Rakhmonov has been announced.

(Sojida Djakhfarova of the Tajik Service contributed to this report.)