DUSHANBE, May 17, 2013, Asia-Plus – Leader of the Social-Democratic Party of Tajikistan (SDPT), Rahmatillo Zoirov, has made another statement regarding the disappearance of the leader of the Uzbek community in the southern province of Khatlon, Salimboy Shamsiddinov, and detention of member of SDPT also deputy head of the Uzbek community in Khatlon province, Ravshan Mutalibov, in Russia.

This statement posted on Zoirov’s Facebook account is addressed to Chairman of the State Committee for National Security (SCNS), Saymuddin Yatimov, Interior Minister, Ramazon Rahimov, and Prosecutor-General, Sherkhon Salimzoda.

In his letter, SDPT leader asks them to establish the whereabouts of Salimboy Shamsiddinov and Ravshan Mutalibov.

We will recall that Salimboy Shamsiddinov went missing on March 15 this year.  In May last year, Shamsiddinov, 58, a leader of ethnic Uzbeks in the Khatlon region, was severely beaten by unknown attackers.  That attack came after Shamsiddinov suggested in a series of interviews with Tajik media outlets that certain officials within the Tajik government were pursuing "nationalistic" policies.  He had complained that ethnic Uzbeks in Khatlon have no access to education in their mother tongue. 

Khatlon authorities have denied involvement in the disappearance of Shamsiddinov.  Deputy chief of Khatlon police department, Eminjon Jailov, said an investigation has not found “any sign that Salimboy Shamsiddinov was beaten or kidnapped by force.”  He also rejected the March 26 statement by Amnesty International that said Shamsiddinov’s disappearance “could have been a politically motivated abduction.”

As far as Ravshan Mutalibov is concerned, Zoirov says he is currently being held at the pretrial detention facility in the Russian city of Krasnodar.  According to him, Mutalibov flew to Krasnodar from Dushanbe on April 30, 2013.  “He successfully passed through customs control at the Dushanbe airport but during the customs inspection at the Krasnodar airport, Mutalibov discovered that lock on his bag is broken.  Customs officers took two package of narcotic drug that tested positive to heroin weighing 360 grams out of his bag.  There were no his fingerprints on the packages.  He is currently being held at the pretrial detention facility in Krasnodar.”

SDPT leader considers that both incidents could have been politically motivated.  According to him, other active members of the Uzbek community in Khatlon are also under pressure.