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Unlawful court verdict against Tajik dissident Abdullohi Shamsiddin was based on evidence handed by German authorities

Freedom For Eurasia received the court verdict of the Tajik dissident Abdullohihi Shamsiddin and analyzed it.

Abdullohihi Shamsiddin is a member of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) and the son of Tajik opposition leader Shamsiddin Saidov. Despite the warnings of human rights activists and members of civil society in exile to the German authorities that Abdullohi Shamsiddin would face torture and a prison sentence if deported, he was denied asylum and was removed to Tajikistan on 18 January 2023. At the time, the German authorities insisted that Abdullohi Shamsiddin was not in danger in Tajikistan. However, upon his return, Tajik authorities not only arrested Shamsiddin, but also subjected him to enforced disappearance, reportedly tortured him, forced him to record a video message denouncing the opposition, and pressured his wife, Sumaya Pirova, to return to her homeland with her children (Abdullohi Shamsiddin’s wife is the niece of the leader of the Islamic Renaissance Party in exile, Muhiddin Kabiri), and sentenced Abdullohihi Shamsiddin to a lengthy prison term on trumped-up charges.

As it turned out, the Tajik authorities opened criminal case No. 1-182/23 against Abdullohi. Judging from the case number, it was initiated in January 2023, that is, after Abdullohi’s forcible return to Tajikistan. On March 29, 2023, the Ismoil Somoni District Court of Dushanbe, composed of Chairman Khamidzoda M.M., Secretary Ismoilzoda Z., with the participation of the State Prosecutor – representative of the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Republic of Tajikistan Kalandarzoda E., found Abdullohi Shamsiddin guilty of committing a crime under Article 307 (3) Part 2 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Tajikistan (participation in the activities of political parties or other organizations in respect of which a court decision was made to close or ban activities recognized as extremist, supporting their activities using the media and the Internet) and sentenced him to imprisonment for a period of 7 (seven) years, to be served in a penal colony of a reinforced regime.

It follows from the verdict that Abdullohi Shamsiddin has been under arrest since 26.01.2023. It is not clear where he was held between January 18 and January 26 outside of legal procedures. According to relatives, he was held in the basement of the GKNB – a notorious successor of the Soviet KGB.

Abdullohi Shamsiddin’s charges are based on the following activities listed in the verdict: the publication of comments about the Tajik government and officials on YouTube, which the authorities consider “provocative and insulting.” He is also accused of publishing videos of the Tajik opposition on the social network Instagram from 2020 to January 2023: the leadership and members of the Islamic Renaissance Party, Group-24, the National Alliance of Tajikistan, Muhiddin Kabiri, Sharofiddin Gadoev and Mukhamadikbol Sadruddin. The prosecution also considered Abdullohi’s comments on social networks about sexual violence committed by the Tajik authorities against women accused of having links with the IRPT’s activities to be criminal.

He was also accused of participating in the protests of Tajiks in Germany and distributing a video of the protests on HALQA TV on YouTube. The verdict states that during his stay in Germany, he took part in 3 anti-constitutional protests of the IRPT, in particular in 2016 in Berlin near the Embassy of Tajikistan, in 2017 in Bonn at the UN office and on November 28, 2021 in Dortmund in a protest against the events in Khorog. This is followed by a detailed description of what he was wearing and the content of the poster he was holding in his hands – on the piece of paper are written the words about freedom.

The accusation that the protests are unconstitutional as well as other charges is legal nonsense. The protests were held in Germany in accordance with the requirements of the German law. The Constitution of Tajikistan, as well as Tajik laws, have no jurisdiction on the territory of Germany. At the same time, the Constitution of Tajikistan states that a citizen has the right to participate in meetings, rallies, demonstrations and peaceful marches established by law (Article 29). The court neither explains what crime was committed by holding a poster about freedom.

It follows from the verdict that on January 24, 2023, after the return of Abdullohi Shamsiddin to Tajikistan, the pages “HALQA”, “Ozodivideo”, “Abdurahmon 09” and “Abdullohih Farhod” on YouTube, Abdullah_f on the social network “Instagram” owned by Abdullohi Sh. were examined, all the comments and publications mentioned above were found. It appears, this check was carried out using Abdullohi Shamsiddin’s own phone. This phone (iPhone-11) belonging to Abdullohihi Shamsiddin is listed as material evidence in the verdict. As it turned out, the sole piece of evidence, aside from two more publications from social media. The authorities conducted a forensic examination of the mobile phone. According to the results of the forensic examination of the Political and Judicial Center under the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Tajikistan No. 19/444/2023 dated February 24, 2023, Abdullohi Shamsiddin’s participation in the activities of the extremist-terrorist Islamic Renaissance Party was revealed, in respect of which the Court’s decision to close and ban activities recognized as extremist entered into force.

The mobile phone was confiscated by the German authorities and handed over to the Tajik side during transfer of Abdullohi Shamsiddin. It played a vital role in fabricating charges against the dissident and a source of information about the diffident circles. The Tajik court decided to destroy the material evidence of the iPhone-11 mobile phone after the verdict entered into force. At the same time, two recordings from Abdullohihi Sh.’s social networks are to be attached to the criminal case and preserved. It is not clear what dictated this decision. Perhaps the reason is to destroy evidence, since after Abdullohi’s arrest, information was received from Abdullohi’s relatives, colleagues and friends that someone appeared from his accounts on social networks and in dissident WhatsApp, Telegram and other groups through Abdullohi’s profile.

As follows from the case of Abdullohi Shamsiddin, Germany not only endangered Abdullohi by handing him to the regime, that craved to punish him and his father for opposition activities, but also handed the Tajik authorities an additional gift in the form of the dissident’s phone, which contained access to all his social media, messengers, contacts of other activists in exile and served as a source for fabricating a criminal case against him. In addition, this also endangered the dissident community abroad, as the Tajik authorities managed to gain access to the contacts and names of activists with whom Abdullohi Shamsiddin was associated. The authorities received information about the activities of dissidents such as Shekhov O., Sharipov A. and others whose safety is jeopardized by the actions of the German authorities.

On February 16, 2024, the Prosecutor General’s Office of Tajikistan held a press conference, during which it stated that in 2023, more than 200 citizens of Tajikistan accused of committing crimes were extradited from abroad at the request of Tajikistan. Taking into account the large-scale repression of the Tajik regime against critics, human rights defenders, journalists and dissidents, the total lack of a fair trial, gross violations of human rights and freedoms that have been taking place since at least 2015, we appeal to German authorities to reconsider their cooperation agreements with Tajikistan on removal of Tajik citizens to their home country; to the authorities of democratic countries to pay closer attention to the situation of refugees and dissidents from Tajikistan and refrain from deporting them to their homeland.

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