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Missing Kyrgyz Rights Activist In Detention In Tajikistan

DUSHANBE -- A Kyrgyz human rights activist who disappeared in Dushanbe last month is being held in a detention center for homeless people, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Muhammadsoleh Muhammadtohir told RFE/RL that his brother, Nematullo Botakoziev, is ill and needs medical treatment. Botakoziev sought political asylum in Tajikistan after Kyrgyz authorities accused him of organizing mass protests in 2008 and issued a warrant for his arrest.

The Tajik Interior Ministry has confirmed that Botakoziev was arrested. Officials say his case is being investigated by Tajikistan's National Security Committee.

Muhammadtohir expressed concern that international organizations have failed to publicize his brother's plight. He said he fears Tajik authorities will deport Botakoziev to Kyrgyzstan where he could face a lengthy prison sentence.

Dushanbe-based human rights activist Payam Furughi told RFE/RL's Tajik Service that this is not the first time a Kyrgyz citizen has been detained in Tajikistan. He said that several years ago Muhammadali Salimzoda, a Kyrgyz citizen born in Tajikistan, was held for five months before officials informed his family he was under arrest.

Furughi added that Botakoziev is being held in a detention center with criminals and has been deprived of meeting with his relatives or lawyers.