In a statement released on October 12, Human Rights Watch (HRW) calls on Greece not to extradite Tajikistan's banned Islamic Renaissance Party activist, Mirzorahim Kuzov, to Tajikistan, “where he faces possible torture or ill-treatment.”  

Mr. Steve Swerdlow, Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch, says that Tajikistan has a serious problem with torture and is actively hunting down political opposition figures using Interpol ‘red notices.  “Greece has a legal obligation not to return anyone to a country where they could face torture or ill-treatment and should abide by those international commitments,” Swerdlow noted.

“Kuzov urgently needs protection,” said Swerdlow.  “Greek authorities should make sure they don’t send him back to Tajikistan, where it’s clear he is at serious risk of abuse and wouldn’t get a fair trial.”

Kuzov has reportedly told Human Rights Watch that he fled Tajikistan in September 2015 fearing arrest after Tajik police and security services began persecuting him and other party members.  He had been in hiding in a third country for the last two years, before attending the human rights conference organized by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Warsaw.  In August, Kuzov’s family members were also forced to flee Tajikistan, following nearly two years of continuous harassment and repeated interrogations by Tajik security services, according to the statement.

Tajik authorities have instituted criminal proceedings against Kuzov under the provisions of Article 307 (parts 1 and 2) -- public calls for carrying out extremist activity and organizing an extremist community. 

Recall, a member of the IRPT's political council, Shohnaimi Karim -- also known as Mirzorahim Kuzov -- was detained at the Athens airport late on October 9 while en route from Warsaw to Tehran after attending a conference organized by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).  He was detained at the request of Interpol.

Tajik authorities banned the IRPT in 2015 as a terrorist group, noting that it organized an armed mutiny along with former Deputy Defense Minister Abdulhalim Nazarzoda in September of that year an attempt to seize power.  Nazarzoda and several supporters were killed by Tajik security forces.

More than 12 leading IRPT members and lawyers for the party were convicted of involvement in organizing the mutiny and sentenced to lengthy prison terms in 2016.  IRPT members and the party leader Muhiddin Kabiri, who now lives in exile, reject the accusations.