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Hizb ut-Tahrir Regional Leader Arrested In Tajikistan

Sharifjon Yoqubov, the alleged leader in Tajikistan of the Hizb ut-Tahir Islamic organization
Sharifjon Yoqubov, the alleged leader in Tajikistan of the Hizb ut-Tahir Islamic organization
DUSHANBE -- The alleged leader in Tajikistan of the banned Islamic organization Hizb ut-Tahrir was arrested by Tajik police last week, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Tajik Interior Ministry press service chief Mahmadullo Asadulloev told RFE/RL on June 14 that Sharifjon Yoqubov, 43, was detained on June 8 in Dushanbe.

He said Yoqubov is from the Bobojon Ghafurov district in Tajikistan's northern Sughd Province and moved with his family to Dushanbe last year.

Asadulloev said Yoqubov and his followers prepared and distributed leaflets on the streets of Dushanbe.

He said Yoqubov's arrest became possible after his online correspondence with Ata Abu ar-Rushta, Hizb ut-Tahrir's London-based leader, was monitored by Tajik security services.

Yoqubov graduated from Khujand State University and is a Russian-language teacher by profession.

He has spent 10 years in prison for being an active member of Hizb ut-Tahrir, which was banned in Tajikistan in 2001.

His sister, Dilbar Yoqubova, said that after his arrest his three daughters, aged between four and 16, disappeared. She said police might have detained them to pressure her brother to talk.

Some 20 Hizb ut-Tahrir activists have been detained in Tajikistan so far this year and sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.

Police arrested 11 Hizb ut-Tahrir members in Sughd alone last month.

Lawyer Fayziniso Vohidova has chronicled the arrests of Hizb ut-Tahrir activists since 1999.

She told RFE/RL on June 14 that the movement has a very complex structure and it appears as though the people sentenced in Tajikistan as members of Hizb ut-Tahrir are only local leaders, while the real leadership lives abroad.

Vohidova said all detainees and suspects say they do not know the identity of their leader.

In January, a court sentenced Yusufjon Hafizov, then identified as the Hizb ut-Tahrir leader in Tajikistan, to 18 years in prison.

But the authorities said later that Hafizov, who like Yoqubov is from Bobojon Ghafurov, was only the Hizb ut-Tahrir leader in Sughd.

Read more in Tajik here