In a statement released on June 11, the banned Islamic revival Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) accused Tajik authorities of targeting “the opposition and especially the IRPT members” with a “new wave of arrests and retaliation.”

The IRPT statement said that more than 100 former party members have been detained since the beginning of 2017 -- two of them, it added, died in custody "due to pressure and torture."

A list provided by the IRPT identified the two men as Komil Khojanazarov and Hoji Ghaybullo, residents of the northern Tajik districts of Asht and Istaravshan, respectively.

According to the statement, 27 of the detained were given prison sentences ranging from three to 25 years.  Most were charged with affiliation with the outlawed Salafi movement or for having links to the IRPT, the statement said.

The party accused Tajik authorities of “systematic mistreatment, insult, beating, and harassing the relatives of the detainees.”  It also claims that officials “extorted money from the relatives.”

The Interior Ministry denied the party’s accusations as absolutely “baseless,” although Umarjon Emomali, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, told Radio Liberty's Tajik Service on June 11 that the ministry would withhold further comment until it could review the list.

An official at Dushanbe police detention center countered the claim that it was housing detainees, telling RFE/RL’s Tajik Service that there were no IRPT members or relatives of IRPT members in custody.  Speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, the official said that no one at the facility was being held for having a connection to the IRPT.

Recall, the Supreme Court has put IRPT leader Muhiddin Kabiri on trial in absentia.  Charges against Muhiddin Kabiri reportedly include terrorism and involvement in what the government says was an armed attempt to seize power, led by mutinous former Deputy Defense Minister Abduhalim Nazarzoda, in September 2015.

In 2017, Tajikistan amended legislation to let courts try and sentence suspects in absentia.

Muhiddin Kabiri left the country shortly after his party lost its two parliamentary seats in March 2015 elections.

Founded in October 1990, the Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan was the only Islamic party officially registered in former Soviet Central Asia.  The IRPT was registered on December 4, 1991.  It was banned by the Supreme Court in June 1993 and legalized in August 1999. 

Since 1999, the party had reportedly been the second-largest party in Tajikistan after the ruling People’s Democratic Party of Tajikistan.

In the 2005 and 2010 parliamentary elections, the IRPT won two out of 63 seats in the parliament, but the party suffered a crushing defeat in Tajikistan’s March 2015 vote, failing to clear the 5 percent threshold needed to win parliament seats.

Tajikistan’s Supreme Court banned the Islamic Revival Party as terrorist group on September 29, 2015 on the basis of a suit filed by the Prosecutor-General’s Office.  The Supreme Court ruled that the IRPT should be included on a blacklist of extremist and terrorist organizations.  The verdict forces the closure of the IRPT’s official newspaper Najot and bans the distribution of any video, audio, or printed materials related to the party’s activities.

Party leader Muhiddin Kabiri, who now is in self-imposed exile abroad, denies any wrongdoing or involvement in the violence.