Letters   |   Tajikistan

CPJ requests information on 29 murdered journalists

Dear Mr. Imomov:

Joel Simon, Josh Friedman, and I appreciated the opportunity to meet with you on July 21 to discuss the Committee to Protect Journalists' (CPJ) list of 29 journalists who were murdered during and after Tajikistan's civil war.

We believe very strongly that the only way the government of Tajikistan can combat the pervasive culture of fear and self-censorship lingering from the civil war is by aggressively investigating and prosecuting those responsible for these murders.

While we remain deeply concerned that most of these cases remain unresolved, we appreciate your commitment to review our list and respond within 30 days of receiving our letter with an update on the status of these cases. We would appreciate receiving additional information, including details of the journalists' detentions or arrests prior to their murder and any new evidence or progress that has been made in the cases. We would also like to know when the cases were last actively investigated, as well as whether you have linked the journalists' murders to their professional activities and how this determination was made.

Please find attached a list of 29 journalists, 17 of whom we have determined were murdered because of their work and 12 of whom may have been murdered in retaliation for their journalism. Since most of the cases were investigated by CPJ during a mission to Tajikistan in 1994 and additional research was done during and after the chaos of the civil war, the case summaries are brief and in some cases not complete. We will continue to update our list with additional information obtained during our recent visit and will communicate with you regarding any new details.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter. We look forward to continuing this dialogue with you.

Sincerely,




Alexander Lupis
Europe & Central Asia Program Coordinator



Attachment:

Journalists Killed in Tajikistan (29)

1992

Murodullo Sheraliev, Sadoi Mardum, May 5, 1992, Dushanbe
Editor-in-chief Sheraliev was killed by automatic weapon fire while he was performing professional duties in the Tajikistan Supreme Soviet building in Dushanbe, according to the Union of Journalists of Tajikistan.

Shirindzhon Amirdzhonov and Olim Zarobekov, Tajikistan Radio, May 7, 1992
Correspondent Amirdzhonov and department head Zarobekov were killed by automatic weapon fire at the republic's Radio House in Dushanbe while they were performing professional duties, according to the Journalists' Union of Tajikistan.

Tura Kobilov, Bairaki Dusti, June 1992, Bokhtar
Editor Kobilov was taken hostage in the Bokhtar region by unidentified captors and shot and killed while carrying out his professional duties, according to the Union of Journalists of Tajikistan.

Arcadi Ruderman, Channel 1, September 1992, Place of death unknown
Ruderman, a journalist from Minsk, Belarus, who was working for Russia's state-run television station Channel 1, was killed while on assignment in September 1992. The circumstances of his death are not known.

Tavakkal Faizulloev, Subhi Yovon, November 17, 1992, Place of death unknown
Correspondent Faizulloev, with the Yovon District newspaper in Khatlon, was killed in retaliation for writing anti-Islamic articles.

Mukhtor Bugdiev, Khovar Information Agency, December 1992, Dushanbe
Photojournalist Bugdiev was killed in December 1992 in Dushanbe by members of the People's Front, according to local Tajik journalists.

Jamshed Davliyatmamatov, Khovar Information Agency, December 1992, Dushanbe
Correspondent Davliyatmamatov was murdered by members of the People's Front.

Filolisho Khilvatshoev, Payomi Dushanbe, December 1992, Place of death unknown
Journalist Khilvatshoev was killed by members of the People's Front, according to local members of the media.

Khushvaht Muborakshoev, Tajikistan State Television, December 1992, Place of death unknown
Journalist Muborakshoev was killed by members of the People's Front, according to the local media.

1993

Saidmurod Yerov, Farkhang, January 1993, Dushanbe
Executive editor Yerov was arrested by People's Front members in January 1993. His body was reportedly found in a mass grave in Dushanbe on February 2.

Zukhuruddin Suyari, Todzhikiston, March 1, 1993, Kurgan-Tiube
Correspondent Suyari's body was found in Kurgan-Tiube at the end of March. It is suspected that members of the pro-government People's may have killed him because he is from the Garm area.

Pirimkul Sattori, Khatlon, May 28, 1993, Kurgan-Tiube
Correspondent Sattori was arrested by unidentified persons in military uniform. Several days later, his body was found in a cotton field.

Saidjonol Fakhriddinov, Navidi Vakhsh, June 1993, Dushanbe
Reporter Fakhriddinov, with the pro-Islamic, Tajik-language thrice-weekly Navidi Vakhsh, was murdered by the People's Front, according to local journalists. Navidi Vakhsh was published in Khatlon Province, 100 miles south of Dushanbe.

Olimjon Yorasonov, a regional newspaper in Vakhsh, Khatlon Province, June or July 1993, Vakhsh
Editor Yorasonov was murdered by members of the People's Front, according to local journalists.

Sharofuddin Kosimov, Navidi Vakhsh, June or July 1993, Place of death unknown
Reporter Kosimov was abducted in June or July 1993 by members of the People's Front according to local journalists. His body was discovered in July and was subsequently identified by family members.

Sharif Ahrorov, a local newspaper in Kuibishev District, Khatlon Province, June or July 1993, Place of death unknown
Editor Ahrorov may have been killed by one of several small paramilitary groups loosely affiliated with the People's Front, according to several sources.

Zikrullo Valievm, Khalqi Ovozi, summer 1993, Place of death unknown
Reporter Valiev with the Uzbek-language Khalqi Ovozi, was killed in the summer of 1993. An armed band loyal to the Tajik government may have killed him.

Tokhirjon Azimov, Maktabi Sovieti, July 1, 1993
Reporter Azimov disappeared in June or July 1993. Tajik opposition sources in Russia and the United States say he was killed by one of several small paramilitary groups loosely affiliated with the People's Front.

Emma Podobed, Narodnaya Gazeta, missing since September 1993, Dushanbe
Reporter Podobed disappeared in September 1993.

Kishvaroy Sharifova, Navidi Vakhsh, October 1, 1993
Reporter Sharifova disappeared in the fall of 1993. It is believed that members of the People's Front were responsible for the deaths of other Navidi Vakhsh employees.

Tabarali Saidaliev, Ba Pesh, October 21, 1993
Editor Saidaliev was kidnapped on October 21, and his body was found three days later in a cotton field. The men who kidnapped him were dressed like government security agents.

1994

Olim Abdulov, Tajikistan State Television, May 16, 1994, near Dushanbe
Abdulov was shot and killed by unknown persons near Dushanbe.

Khushvakht Haydarsho, Jumhuriyat, May 18, 1994, Dushanbe
Haydarsho, secretary of the editorial board of the Tajik-language government newspaper Jumhuriyat, was shot dead near his home in Dushanbe. Local journalists believe his murder is connected to a series of articles he published on "the criminal and political mafia" in Tajikistan.

Davlatali Rakhmonaliev, Tajikistan State Television, August 18, 1994, Dushanbe
Rakhmonaliev, director of programming at Tajikistan State Television, was fatally shot in front of his home in Dushanbe. He reportedly had close ties to the pro-Communist government.

Khamidjon Khakimov, Khaksuz, November 18, 1994, Dushanbe
Editor Khakimov was shot in the head in Dushanbe and died overnight. He was a prominent member of Tajikistan's Uzbek minority.

1995

Muhiddin Olimpur, BBC, December 12, 1995, Dushanbe
Olimpur, head of the BBC's Persian Service bureau in Tajikistan, was found dead near the University of Tajikistan in Dushanbe with a gunshot wound to his head. Nothing had been stolen from him, even though he was wearing a gold ring and carrying several documents.

On July 29, 2003, Tajikistan's Supreme Court ruled that Narzibek Davlatov and Akhtam Toirov were accomplices in the murders of Olimpur and ORT correspondent Viktor Nikulin (see below). The court sentenced Davlatov and Toirov to 15 and 22 years in prison, respectively.

The presiding judge in the case, Makhmadali Vatanov, told the Russian news agency RIA Novosti that the murders were ordered by Nozim Yunusov, a field commander with the United Tajik Opposition who died during the civil war. The man suspected by the authorities of carrying out the killings, Nasrullo Sharipov, is serving a prison term in St. Petersburg, Russia, for an unrelated crime, according to Russian news reports. Russian authorities have rejected Tajikistan's extradition request.

1996

Viktor Nikulin, Russian Public TV (ORT), March 28, 1996, Dushanbe
Correspondent Nikulin was fatally shot at the door to his ORT office. He had received three threatening telephone calls the week before he was killed.

On July 29, 2003, Tajikistan's Supreme Court ruled that Narzibek Davlatov and Akhtam Toirov were accomplices in the murders of Nikulin and the BBC's Muhiddin Olimpur (see above). The court sentenced Davlatov and Toirov to 15 and 22 years in prison, respectively.

The presiding judge in the case, Makhmadali Vatanov, told the Russian news agency RIA Novosti that the murders were ordered by Nozim Yunusov, a field commander with the United Tajik Opposition who died during the civil war. The man suspected by the authorities of carrying out the killings, Nasrullo Sharipov, is serving a prison term in St. Petersburg, Russia, for an unrelated crime, according to Russian news reports. Russian authorities have rejected Tajikistan's extradition request.

1999

Dzhumakhon Khotami, July 5, 1999, Dushanbe
Khotami, chief spokesperson for Tajikistan's Interior Ministry, was assassinated. He anchored a weekly program on national TV in which he aired in-depth investigative reports on drug trafficking and organized crime.

A group of Tajik journalists that visited CPJ in New York City a week after the killing said he was highly respected for his professionalism and courage. He had long stated publicly that he expected to be killed one day in retaliation for his revelations about the country's drug bosses, whose names he broadcast on his program. While the local media referred to him as a journalist, Western news agencies did not because he was a high-ranking Interior Ministry official.

Yakhyakhon Isayev, a suspect in Khotami's murder, was killed by police officers on February 19, 2001, during an effort to capture him, the Interfax news agency reported.



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