Human Rights Watch and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee have called on Tajikistan to lift “a politically motivated travel ban” and allow the critically ill son of an opposition member to receive medical treatment abroad.
In a joint statement issued on July 27, the two rights groups said that 4-year-old Ibrohim Hamza Tillozoda, the son of opposition member Ruhullo Tillozoda and the grandson of opposition leader Muhiddin Kabiri, the chair of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), has life-threatening stage-3 testicular cancer that doctors in Tajikistan have not been able to treat.
Tilozada and Kabiri left Tajikistan in 2015 to evade state persecution. In late 2015, Tajik authorities confiscated the travel documents of Hamza’s mother and other family members, preventing them from traveling outside the country, the rights groups said.
“Tajik authorities should immediately allow 4-year-old Hamza and his family to leave so he can receive life-saving medical treatment,” Marius Fossum, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee's regional representative in Central Asia, said.
“President Emomali Rahmon should ensure that the family can travel,” Fossum added.
Human Rights Watch and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee said that an oncological clinic in Turkey is prepared to provide the treatment.
“It is morally reprehensible that Tajik authorities appear to be holding a critically ill child hostage to exert pressure on his father and grandfather,” Human Rights Watch's Central Asia researcher, Steve Swerdlow, said.
“This case should not be about politics but about a child’s life,” Swerdlow added.
Activists say Rahmon's government has intensified its crackdown on the opposition since 2015, when the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan was branded a terrorist organization and banned, and dozens of party officials were arrested.