A court in Vahdat Township considers actions of a 23-year-old Shahboz Sharifbek falling under the Penal Code’s article related to criminal offences of extremism, though his relatives say he has just criticized the way of conscripting his brother into the army and the fact that his 83-year-old grandmother was beaten at the same time, Radio Liberty’s Tajik Service, known locally as Radio Ozodi, reported on March 11.  

A vide the young man uploaded to social media last fall reportedly caused a storm of criticism on social networks.  In this video, Shahboz reportedly criticizes the way of conscripting his brother into the army and the fact that government officials raised their hands against his grandmother and aunt.  At the time, he criticized the Vahdat administration and the country’s authorities for not seeing these offenses, according to Radio Ozodi.

After this, Shahboz Sharifbek was arrested in October 2023.    

His relatives told Radio Ozodi that the Vahdat court ruled on January 19 and in early March, Shahboz Sharifbek was sent to a penal colony in in Khujand, the capital of the northern Sughd province.    

The court representatives refused to comment on this case, demanding that it be addressed in writing.

Meanwhile, Shodigul Ghafourova, the aunt of Shahboz, said that at the trial he had pleaded not guilty.  

Shodigul Ghafourova; video frame / Radio Ozodi.

During the entire six months after Shahboz’s arrest, the family reportedly tried to find justice, wrote letters to President’s Executive Office and law enforcement bodies, asking to release Shahboz from custody and to bring to justice those who raised their hands against his grandmother. 

video frame / Radio Ozodi.

However, both requests went unheard.

Radio Ozodi notes that despite the barrage of criticism, the authorities never commented on this incident.

In recent years, in Tajikistan, those who criticize the government have been called “traitors” and subjected to arrest and repression; moreover, most often their cases are considered under the article related to criminal offences of extremism.

Human rights activists note that the authorities' tolerance for criticism is decreasing and punishments against such people are becoming increasingly severe, according to Radio Ozodi

Meanwhile, International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) prepared a report for the CIVICUS, which covers developments affecting the freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly in Tajikistan for the period from April to September 2023. 

The report notes that during the reporting period, the situation in Tajikistan continued to deteriorate, particularly due to an escalating crackdown on journalists, bloggers and the media.  The authorities reportedly continued to use over-broad criminal charges of “extremism” and “terrorism” to silence those who speak out on issues perceived as sensitive, accusing them of having connections with organizations or media outlets previously banned as “extremist” because they had allegedly “liked” or shared the posts of such organizations or outlets.