HRW Urges Tajikistan To Restore Internet in Autonomous Region

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Monday called on Tajikistan’s authorities to restore internet connectivity in the autonomous region of Gorno-Badakhshan (GBAO), and also to ensure fair trial for Amriddin Alovatshoe, a Tajik activist who forcefully returned from Russia.

In a statement, the HRW urged authorities in Tajikistan to immediately disclose where Alovatshoev is being detained and allow a lawyer of his choosing immediate access to him.

Alovatshoev, a migrant leader from the eastern Tajikistan region, known by its Russian acronym GBAO, was forcibly disappeared and returned to Tajikistan from Russia last month.

“Closing down communication in the GBAO region not only violates the right to freedom of expression but is making life difficult and even dangerous for the whole population,” said Syinat Sultanlieva, Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch.

Sultanlieva called for immediate restoration of internet connectivity without any further delays.

Tajikistan shut down access to both mobile data and most fixed-line internet access in Khorog, as soon as protests erupted on November 25 over the fatal shooting of a local man as he was being arrested.

The man, Gulbiddin Ziyobekov, was wanted in connection with an alleged assault on a public official in early 2020. Access to the internet was cut off later in the rest of the region.

Meanwhile, Alovatshoev, who had been living in Russia, is alleged to have helped organize a picket outside the Tajik embassy in Moscow in November concerning the killings and protests in Khorog.

His family said they have not heard from him since January 11, 2022, when he was detained by Russian law enforcement.

Sultanalieva called on the Tajik authorities to immediately lift all restrictions on access to the internet and facilitate the unhindered flow of information.

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