Daler Sharipov is a freelance journalist serving a one year prison sentence for writing a series of articles about religious extremism.
Sharipov began his journalism career at the state-owned television channel Safina in 2006 when he was a student at Tajik National University. He was a presenter for two programs –Muoshirat (Ethics of Conversation) and Katra az Bahr (Drop from the Sea) – which discussed current youth issues.
In 2012, Sharipov created Kadam Bakadam (Step by Step), an organization designed to build a coalition of young people to oppose localism and corruption. The government never approved the organization’s registration. Sharipov became the victim of increased harassment and monitoring by the authorities shortly after creating Kadam Bakdadam. He was repeatedly interrogated by police, beaten by unidentified assailants, and briefly detained by police after filming the funeral of a famous imam.
Beginning in 2013, Sharipov worked at the Ozodagon news agency where he wrote a regular column. Sharipov’s writings were critical of the government, and throughout his career he covered various matters of public interest, including human rights violations, religious freedom, and press freedom. After the government forced Ozodagon to close in 2019, he collaborated with various media as a freelance writer and opened a bookstore in Dushanbe with friends.
On January 28, 2020, Sharipov was summoned to the State Committee for National Security in Dushanbe where he was arrested without the presentation of a warrant or being informed of the grounds of his arrest. Later that day, police searched Sharipov’s apartment and confiscated a computer and books in Arabic, Tajik, and Russian. He was moved to the State Committee for National Security detention center on January 29 and provided a lawyer by the Independent Center for the Protection of Human Rights. During the first days of detention, Sharipov was denied access to both his family and his lawyers.
On January 30, Sharipov was indicted under Article 189 of the criminal code for “arousing national, racial, local, or religious hatred.” He was ordered to remain in pre-trial detention for two months pending an investigation. His lawyers appealed this decision to the Supreme Court and were denied.
On February 1, the Prosecutor General’s Office issued a statement explaining that the indictment stemmed from more than 200 articles and notes Sharipov had published between 2013 and 2019 which were allegedly extremist in nature. It emphasized in particular a manuscript regarding the incompatibility of Islam and terrorism published by an underground publisher. The statement alleged the manuscript was written in support of the Muslim Brotherhood.
On April 16, 2020 Sharipov was convicted and sentenced to one year in prison. He is currently serving his sentence at Correctional Colony 3/13 in Yovon District.
Freedom Now filed a petition in May 2020 with the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on behalf of Sharipov.
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Can you imagine a doctor being imprisoned just for treating a patient, or a journalist detained simply for publishing an article critical of his government?