Five international human rights organizations called on the Tajik authorities to release detained journalist Khurshed Fozilov.
The corresponding joint statement, which was published on March 24, was issued by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (Norwegian Helsinki Committee), International Partnership for Human Rights (International Partnership for Human Rights), Civil Rights Defenders, Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights) and the International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (Front Line Defenders).
Journalist Khurshed Fozilov, who was reporting for local media from Penjikent, Sughd region, was detained on March 6 by security forces. His relatives reported that he was charged with publicly calling for a violent change in the constitutional order of Tajikistan using the media or the Internet, and he is being held in a temporary detention center in Khujand. However, they do not accept these accusations.
The five organizations, in a joint statement, note that the Tajik authorities jailed seven bloggers and journalists last year, and it appears that “the campaign to crack down on journalists continues.” They called the criminal cases against journalists “part of the campaign to suppress dissent in Tajikistan.”
The statement says that Tajikistan does not comply with its obligations in the field of freedom of speech and considers the cases of journalists behind closed doors, hiding the facts from the public.
The authors of the statement believe that the case of Khurshed Fozilov is covered with white threads, and stated that no evidence of his guilt has been voiced, therefore keeping him in custody is contrary to the law. They called on the Tajik government to stick to its international obligations and stop persecuting journalists.
Khurshed Fozilov collaborated with independent local and foreign media and wrote mainly about the problems of the residents of the Zerafshan Valley, often criticizing local authorities. He was also active on social media.
A few years ago, on the air of the state television of Tajikistan, he was named as one of the employees of the independent website “Akhbor.com”, broadcasting from Prague.
Khurshed Fozilov is 37 years old and has three children.