PEN International joins the British Broadcasting  Corporation  (BBC) in condemning the reported beating of its staff member, journalist Urunboy Usmonov in police custody in Tajikistan and the denial of his right to access a lawyer. PEN calls for an open and impartial investigation in the charges against Usmonov, who is accused of membership of the banned Islamic movement Hizb ut-Tahrir and of seeking to recruit members to the group via the Internet.

Background Information

Usmonov has been a reporter for the BBC Central Asian Service for the last ten years. He was reported missing when he failed to return to his family home in the Northern Tajikistani town of Khujand on June 13, 2011. He appeared at his family home the following day, June 14, accompanied by members of the Tajik security services. They told his family that Usmonov had been arrested, and conducted a search of the house. It was reported that Usmonov had injuries suggesting that he had been beaten and that he had difficulty walking during this search. Usmonov’s son Oybek said that although the police conducted a thorough search of the house they did not take anything away. The family is concerned about Usmonov’s health as he suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure.

Usmonov’s lawyer, Fayziniso Vohidova, said that an arrest warrant was signed by the court on June 15 and that the journalist could legally be held in detention for two months. She reported that she has been denied access to her client.

In a statement, the BBC rejected the charges against Usmonov, asserting that “Whilst Mr. Usmonov has reported on the judicial trials and activities of the Hizbi Tahrir party in Tajikistan at the request of the BBC, the BBC has no reason to believe these allegations.”

More information:

Write A Letter

  • Calling for a fair and impartial investigation into the accusations against Mr. Usmonov;
  • Demanding that he be given full access to his lawyer and full enjoyment of his right to a fair trial, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and other international legal instruments;
  • Condemning the reported beating of Usmonov and calling for the authorities to investigate these claims and to ensure that his other health needs are fully attended to.

Send Your Letter To

Mr. Emomali Rahmon
President of Tajikistan
Email: mail@president.tj

Tajikistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Rudaki Ave 42, Dushanbe,
Republic of Tajikistan 734001
Fax: 992 372 210 259
Email: admin@mfa.tj

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Tajikistan in your country if possible.