Detained blogger Abdusattor Pirmuhamamdzoda, who is currently being held at the pretrial detention center in Dushanbe, says he was tortured and beaten during interrogations at the pretrial detention center.   He wrote this in a letter that was at the disposal of Radio Liberty’s Tajik Service, known locally as Radio Ozodi.

“I was beaten and tortured with electric shocks so I didn't want to live,” the blogger writes in the letter that was given to Radio Ozodi by a source close to the investigation.  

Radio Ozodi notes that Abdusattor’s acquaintances said that judging by the handwriting the letter is written by the blogger himself.    

The blogger reportedly writes that from the first day of detention, he was subjected to "cruel torture" and psychological pressure and the law enforcement officers tried to force him to confess to the trumped-up charges.  

It is not yet possible to verify these claims, Radio Ozodi notes.  

Recall, the 44-yer-old Abdusattor Pirmuhammadzoda was detained in Vahdat Township on July 9.  He had been charged with publicly calling for extremist activities.  If convicted, he could face up to five years in prison.     

Pirmuhammadzoda worked at the state-owned radio station Sadoi Dushanbe (Voice of Dushanbe) until 2019, when he quit after reportedly being given the choice between moderating his critical reporting and resigning.

Pirmuhammadzoda has reportedly published his personal views on free speech and alleged government injustices on his YouTube channel, where he has about 39,000 subscribers.

Tajik authorities have handed down long prison terms to three independent journalists and bloggers in recent days.  Four other reporters are awaiting sentencing.  The trials have all been held behind closed doors, preventing public scrutiny.

Radio Liberty’s Tajik Service reported on October 19 that the convictions against and trial of the journalists are part of a renewed crackdown on dissent in Tajikistan.

All seven journalists and bloggers were arrested between May and July.  Observers said the arrests were an attempt by the authorities to control public opinion.  

In the latest conviction, a court in Dushanbe’s Shohmansour district sentenced blogger Daler Imomali to 10 years in prison on October 17.  He was found guilty of tax evasion, disseminating false information, and membership in the banned opposition party Group 24, which the authorities consider to be a terrorist group.  The 34-year-old pleaded guilty to tax evasion. But he has denied having any links to Group 24. The opposition party also insists that Imomali has never been a member or contributor.

Imomali’s conviction came weeks after independent blogger Mamadsulton Mavlonazarov, 72, was sentenced to seven years in prison.  Abdulloh Ghurbati, 26, another blogger, got a 7 1/2 year jail term.

One of the bloggers, Zavqibek Saidamini, had previously said that he often received letters from Dushanbe residents about specific issues.  In turn, he would present the letters to relevant officials, he said.

The video blogger insisted that “speaking about problems doesn’t mean criticizing the government.” 

International human rights and media watchdogs have called on the Tajik government to release the reporters and end its campaign against the free press.

Ranked 152nd out of 180 countries in RSF's 2022 World Press Freedom Index, Tajikistan has fallen 36 places in the index since 2015.