Abdusamad Gayratov

Abdusamad Gayratov (Gayratov Abdusamad Ismoilovich), better known as Hoji Abdusamad, is a political activist, former Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) branch chairman in Kulob city, member of the IRPT Political Council, and entrepreneur. He was born on December 11, 1967(62?) in the city of Kulob, Khatlon region in southern Tajikistan. He graduated from Kulob State University.

On September 16, 2015, he was detained by the Tajik State National Security Committee (SNSC) officers at his home in Kulob.

Hoji Abdusamad’s name first became known to the general public in 2004. According to the Ozodi RFE/RL’s Tajik Service report of December 28, 2004, the IRPT’s Kulob regional council decided to bring charges against officials from three election districts in the Kulob region. Hoji Abdusamad, then chairman of the IRPT Kulob branch, stated that local authorities refused to register IRPT candidates in the district election commissions of the Mu’minobad and Vose districts and the city of Kulob, which meant they were deprived of their right to both participate and observe local elections.

On 31 July 2008 Hoji Abdusamad, in an interview with Najod (owned by the IRPT), discussed the challenges faced by Tajik migrant workers and inaction of the Tajik Embassy in Russia. He pointed out the example of Kyrgyz diplomats and the Kyrgyz embassy in Russia, which negotiated conditions directly with Russian employers and made efforts to alleviate the situation of their citizens in the Russian Federation. Using agreements signed with Russian companies, Kyrgyz diplomats have sought groundless dismissals of Tajik workers, freeing up jobs for Kyrgyz citizens. These facts have been largely neglected by the Tajik embassy, activist Hoji Abdusamad told Najod.

On December 27, 2009, the trial of 10 residents of the Khatlon region began in the city of Kulob on charges of extremism. According to the Ozodi RFE/RL’s Tajik Service, the defendants were accused of ties to the Salafi and Tablighi Jama’at movements, both banned in Tajikistan. Hoji Abdusamad then stated that he did not accept the ideas of the Salafia movement, while Tablighi Jama’at, in his opinion, promoted the ideas of true Islam.

On February 9, 2010 (report by the Ozodi RFE/RL’s Tajik Service), on the eve of parliamentary elections in Tajikistan in the city of Kulob, unknown persons took down campaign leaflets of running candidates. Vandals tore down the leaflets with names of all candidates, both oppositional and representatives of the ruling party. At that time Hoji Abdusamad stated that the party did not complain over this act of vandalism as it was unknown who was behind it and for what reasons.

Hoji Abdusamad (Abdusamad Gayratov) was nominated by the IRPT as a candidate for the Majlisi Namoyandagon (Lower Chamber) of the Tajik parliament from the Kulob region. A total of 19 candidates were nominated from the IRPT in the 2010 parliamentary elections:

(Kabirov Mukhiddin Tilloyevich; Khisainov Umarali Fatokhovich; Kosidinov Vokhidkhon; Saidov Shamsiddin Sangovich; Begov Kamardin Avzarovich, Hikmatullo Saifullozoda; Mirzohodiev Mirzomakhmadi; Saidov Muhammadjan Abdulloevich; Khujaeva Zarafo Rakhmonovna; Nazarov Davlat Nazarovich; Davlatov Abdukakhor Abdukarimovich; Broimshoeva Muslima; Yakubov Ilhomjon Dadojonovich; Saidova Hajriniso Obidovna; Avazov Kyomiddin Kurumjonovich; Ismailov Mahmadsharif; Abdulloeva Nodira Mamadovna; Munir Habib; Sherov Jama Ismoilovich)

According to a media report of June 15, 2010, Hoji Abdusamad Gayratov filed a complaint against the head of the Kulob DIA, accusing the latter of insulting and rude treatment, but his complaint was not considered.

The Ozodi RFE/RL’s Tajik Service reported that Dr. Jumakhon Alimi (former professor at the Kulob university), the head of the Parallax human rights organization in Kulob, appealed to the prosecutor’s office with a complaint against Abdulvakhhob Iskandarov, the head of the city police department. According to Jumakhon Alimi, police officers ignored demands to check and expel suspicious persons arriving in the flood-stricken areas in Kulob. Moreover, Abdulvakhhob Iskandarov, beat and insulted the human rights activist, calling his actions provocative. The human rights defender was assaulted in front of dozens of witnesses, including Khamid Abdulloev, Mayor of Kulob and Tajik Deputy Prime Minister Murodali Alimardonov. According to Alimi, he was seriously injured to the head and face, but the forensic medical examination refused confirm that.

On March 26, 2012, the Ozodi RFE/RL’s Tajik Service reported that the IRPT in Kulob protested the results of the city assembly elections, stating they would file a complaint over election fraud to court. Abdusamad Gayratov informed journalists that while the IRPT has thousands of supporters in Kulob, IRPT candidates did not receive a single vote in the city council elections. Citing observers, the IRPT recorded numerous falsifications at polling stations. Abdusamad Gayratov said that for all the known facts of election fraud IRPT would file a complaint in court.

In May 2013, Hoji Abdusamad was fined 2,000 somoni (appx. 425 USD) for holding a seminar about the Prophet Muhammad. The Kulob city court found Hoji Abdusamad guilty of violating Article 481 of the Administrative Code of the Republic of Tajikistan (involvement of minors in religious rites) and Article 13 of the Law on the Regulation of Traditions, Celebrations and Ceremonies. Gayratov denied all accusations of holding the birthday of the Prophet with participation of women and minors without their consent (which is against the law), stating that IRPT held not such celebrations.

In April 2014, after reports on deaths of several natives of the Kulob region in Syria and participation of natives of the Khatlon region in combat operations there, authorities launched explanatory work among the local population. The main purpose of such discussions was to prevent Tajik citizens from joining the foreign combatants and going to the war zone. Abdusamad Gayratov also commented on the issue, stating that there are dozens of ways to prevent young people from taking part in the Syrian war and that officials either didn’t use them at all or used them ineffectively. Prevention efforts should have been targeting unemployed youth, providing proper Islamic education, which would have helped avoiding mistakes. Hoji Abdusamad also said that reducing and controlling migration would keep young people from joining extremist groups.

On June 10, 2014, the Ozodi RFE/RL’s Tajik Service reported that during a visit of IRPT leader to Kulob (the Supreme Court banned IRPT in Tajikistan in 2015), Muhiddin Kabiri, then an MP, a group of about 10 women and young men who introduced themselves as athletes attacked Kabiri and his team, throwing tomatoes and eggs at them. The attackers were also armed with knives and nails.

On September 16, 2015, SNSC arrested 13 high-ranking IRPT officials, including Abdusamad Gayratov, on charges of cooperating with the group of then-deputy defense minister, General Khoji Halim Nazarzoda.

In an interview with Radio Ozodi, IRPT leader Mukhiddin Kabiri noted that authorities planned to shut down the party and acted according to a pre-conceived plan. Kabiri called on the government of Tajikistan to stop persecuting the party and its members, and to allow IRPT to continue its activities in accordance with the law.

Thirteen members of the IRPT’s political council were convicted and sentenced to long prison terms.

Saidumar Husseini and Deputy Chairman Muhammadali Hayit were sentenced to life imprisonment.

Zarafo Rakhmoni was sentenced to two years in medium-security prison.

Rahmatullohi Rajab — 28 years;

Abdukahori Davlat — 28 years;

Kiyomiddin Avazov — 28 years;

Sattar Karimov — 28 years;

Zubaidullah Razik — 25 years;

Mukhammadali Faizmukhammed — 23 years;

Saadidin Rustam — 20 years;

Vakhidkhan Kasiddinov — 20 years;

Hikmatullo Sayfullozoda — 16 years;

Mukhammadasharif Nabiyev — 14 years;

Abdusamad Gayratov — 14 years.

UN demanded immediate release of detained IRPT members, including Abdusamad Gayratov.

According to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention February 11, 2020 report, after an investigation the UN legal team concluded that the government of Tajikistan arrested IRPT members in violation of its international human rights obligations. The Working Group concluded that the reasons for the arrest and imprisonment of 11 IRPT members were, in fact, their desire to exercise the right to freedom of expression and assembly. The UN demanded that the Tajik authorities release all imprisoned members of the IRPT.

According to the Feb. 12, 2020 report, the group also stated they were imprisoned “for exercising their right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.”

The Civil Committee for the Rescue of Hostages and Political Hostages and Prisoners in Tajikistan pledged to make every effort to free all Tajik political prisoners, including Abdusamad Gayratov, and stressed: “Until our dear ones are released from the prison of Emomali Rahmon’s regime, we will not sit still for a minute, we will try to free them. To free them, we will use every possible means.”

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