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Faiziniso Vohidova, Tajik Lawyer Who Defended Dissidents For Decades, Dies At 55


Faiziniso Vohidova in 2016

DUSHANBE -- Faiziniso Vohidova, a lawyer in Tajikistan who for decades defended dissidents, rights activists, and opposition politicians, has died at the age of 55.

Vohidova's daughter-in-law, Tahmina Rahimova, told RFE/RL on January 4 that her mother-in-law died overnight in a hospital in the country's northern Bobojon Ghafurov district.

The cause of death was pneumonia, Rahimova said.

Vohidova, a graduate of Moscow State University, started her career as a lawyer in 1995. She was one of the last lawyers in Tajikistan who provided legal assistance to opposition figures, journalists, and victims of torture.

Steve Swerdlow, a human rights researcher and lawyer with Human Rights Watch, called Vohidova's death "a huge loss for Tajikistan" and described her as a brave "lawyers' lawyer."

"[Vohidova] was an amazing combination of fierce intellect, sharp wit [and] principle. [For] duration of Tajikistan's independence she has been part of that small group of activists and lawyers who have sought to make it live up to the democratic pronouncements written in its Constitution," Swerdlow wrote on Twitter, adding that she was "unafraid to take on the toughest battles, fight for justice till the end, no matter what the odds."

Rajabi Mirz, an independent journalist and rights activist in Tajikistan, told RFE/RL that Vohidova was "the last pillar” of those challenging the authorities in Tajikistan.

"She was one of the few who cared about Tajikistan's future," Mirzo said.

Tajikistan, a mostly Muslim former Soviet republic in Central Asia, is regularly cited for its poor human rights record.

In its 2018 World Report, Human Rights Watch said Tajikistan’s human rights record “worsened further in 2017.”

Rahimova told RFE/RL that her mother-in-law will be buried on January 4 at a cemetery in the Bobojon Ghafurov district.

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