In Tajikistan, the repressive drift of President Emomali Rahmon continues to worsen, and impacts all sectors, and in particular the media.
In recent months, four independent journalists have been sentenced to between 7 and 10 years in prison by the Tajik authorities. After having carried out reports on “sensitive” subjects, they were accused by the authorities of maintaining links with extremist organisations.
It is a fact, Emomali Rahmon’s regime has hardened over the years, and seeks more and more openly to gag any criticism. In 2021, the government introduced official censorship on television and radio channels, which logically led to a crackdown on independent journalism.
In particular, the government is pressing to close many independent media, force dozens of journalists into exile, encourage self-censorship and even block access to the main information sites (internet, social networks, etc.). In addition, journalists who criticize the government are regularly assaulted, arrested, and even imprisoned.
This is the case of four independent journalists, Daler Imomali, Avazmad Gourbatov (alias Abdoullo Gourbati), Zavkibek Saidamini and Abdussator Pirmukhamadzoda, who were sentenced to terms ranging from 7 to 10 years in prison for reporting deemed hostile to the government. .
Daler Imomali and Abdoullo Gourbati, respectively freelance investigative journalist and correspondent for the independent news agency Asia-Plus, have been imprisoned since June 2022 for investigating the arbitrary demolition of residential buildings in Dushanbe (capital of Tajikistan), in the request of the government.
The first was sentenced last October to 10 years in prison for illegal trade, dissemination of false information and participation in an extremist organization. The second will spend 7 years and 6 months behind bars for publicly insulting a representative of power and participating in an extremist organization.
Journalists and bloggers Zavkibek Saidamini and Abdussator Pirmukhamadzoda were arrested in July after publicly denouncing the arrest of their former collaborators. They were sentenced on November 3 and December 26 to 7 years in prison for participating in an extremist organization.
“In prison, the destiny of these colleagues remains linked: accusations of “terrorism”, trial behind closed doors, torture, forced confessions… The cases of these four journalists present themselves as textbook cases of the repressive methods employed by the regime. ‘Emomali Rahmon in order to silence any critical voice,” says Reporters Without Borders .
There is therefore reason to be pessimistic about the future of press freedom in Tajikistan, already ranked 152nd country out of 180 in this area. According to the chairman of the National Association of Independent Media of Tajikistan (NANSMIT) Nuriddin Karshiboev , “the authorities are trying to establish total control of public opinion. Ultimately, this will have a very bad effect on the image of the country”.
Source : Cinktank