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Tajik Court Sentences Jehovah's Witness To Prison For Refusing Military Service

Jovidon Bobojonov
Jovidon Bobojonov

DUSHANBE -- A military court in Tajikistan has sentenced a Jehovah's Witness to two years in prison after finding him guilty of refusing compulsory military service.

The court in the capital, Dushanbe, made the ruling against 20-year-old Jovidon Bobojonov on April 2, the Jehovah's Witnesses told RFE/RL.

The trial was held behind closed doors.

Tajik authorities have not provided information about his sentencing.

Bobojonov has appealed against his conviction, according to the Norway-based Forum18 human rights organization.

The Jehovah's Witnesses said Bobojonov was arrested in January after he refused to wear a military uniform and take the military oath of allegiance.

Bobojonov refused, the group said, because it contradicted his religious beliefs.

Tajik authorities banned Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Central Asian nation in 2008.

In September, a court in the northeastern city of Khujand sentenced a Jehovah's Witness to 7 1/2 years in prison after finding him guilty of inciting religious hatred.

The court also ruled that after serving his term, Shamil Hakimov will be barred from working in religious organizations for three years.

In autumn 2017, a court in the southern Tajik region of Khatlon sentenced an 18-year-old army conscript, Daniil Islomov, to six months in prison for refusing to wear a military uniform because of his beliefs as a Jehovah's Witness.

Tajik law obliges all men between the ages of 18 to 27 to serve in the armed forces for two years.

Refusing military service is punishable by up to five years in prison.

Tajikistan gives exemptions from military duty to full-time university students, men who are the only son in the family, married men with more than one child, and individuals unfit for service due to medical reasons.