Belarus detains Tajik dissident who intended to seek asylum at UN Office

Shabnam Khudoydodova was going to Minsk Office of the UN High Commissioner for refugees: she wanted to ask for asylum. The authorities in Dushanbe issued an arrest warrant for the activist of Group 24, an organization established by emigre Tajik oppositionists. Now she may be extradited to Tajikistan.

Shabnam Khudoydodova was detained on June 15, when crossing the Russia-Belarus border, Nadezhda Atayeva, Chairwoman of association ‘Human Rights in Central Asia’.

The 29-year-old woman posted criticisms on the situation in the country on social media, spoke out for democratic transformation, participated in charity events for the benefit of labour migrants from Tajikistan.

The arrest warrant was issued after Russia extradited Maksud Ibragimov, the founder and leader of the organization ‘Tajik Youth for Revival of Tajikistan’. He was one of the leaders of the coalition of opposition forces ‘New Tajikistan’ which includes Group 24. On January 20 Ibragimov disappeared in Moscow and it became clear soon that he was kidnapped and taken to Tajikistan. There is still no information about what has happened to him.

“In January 2015, Shabnam’s place was searched, they questioned her mother and all people she contacted in Tajikistan. She has recently got to know that her kidnapping is planned in Moscow. These fears were justified: Umarali Kuvvatov, leader of Group 24, was killed in in Istanbul,” Nadezhda Atayeva said.

Read also: Tajik opposition activist Umarali Kuvvatov shot dead in Istanbul

On June, 12 Shabnam Khudoydodova headed for Belarus to appeal for refugee status at the office of UN High Commissioner for Refugees. However, she was detained by Belarusian border guards and placed in a detention center in Brest.

Now she may face extradition in Belarus, torture and up to 20 years in prison – in her homeland. Courts in Tajikistan do not hesitate to sentence to heavy jail term for expressing views on social networks and online forums.


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