2019.10.07 15:00

Belarus to extradite Tajik activist arrested on Lithuanian border 2019.10.07 15:00

Belarus is planning to extradite a Tajik journalist and an opposition activist, Farhod Odinaev, after he was arrested on the Belarusian-Lithuanian border on his way to a human rights event in Warsaw.

He could face torture if sent back to Tajikistan, which is "known for ‘transnational repression,’ routinely using politically motivated charges to reach beyond its borders to threaten and detain peaceful dissidents,” said Steve Swerdlow, senior Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Odinaev is a member of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), which the government has outlawed in 2015 after declaring it a terrorist organisation and jailing its members and leaders.

Tajikistan has also actively persecuted IRPT party members residing abroad, and has issued international arrest warrants.

The 43-year-old Odinaev was an active member of IRPT, and while living in Moscow in 2013, established independent media, TV Safo, and has also worked for an NGO, Aid to Migrants.

Odinaev is currently detained in Gardin, Belarus.

Tajikistan has restricted the freedom of religion and expression, and has banned public gatherings. According to Human RIghts Watch, more than 150 political activists, lawyers, and government critics have been imprisoned since 2014.

Tajikistan severely restricts religious freedom, and has imprisoned numerous people on charges of religious extremism amidst crackdown on Muslim communities, according to HRW.

The European Court of Human Rights has warned that forcibly returned people would be tortured, a practice prevalent in Tajikistan.