Reports of torture in Tajikistan’s police stations and KGB holding cells are common. But even by Tajik standards, a case that surfaced today is shocking.
A mother in Dushanbe says the security services – colloquially still referred to as the KGB – held her 12-year-old son hostage for three days in August and beat him to extract information about his Arabic teacher, whom authorities suspect of membership in a banned Islamist group. Asia-Plus reports:
After her son returned, she noticed scrapes and bruises on his face and body. "When I asked what happened, he replied that a GKNB [State Committee on National Security] detective had beaten him to obtain testimony against the alleged ‘extremists,’" said the child’s mother.
The boy himself said the following: "When I was brought into the detective’s office, a few of his other colleagues were there. The detective began telling me to say that the teacher had been distributing banned leaflets and that my teacher had taken money from me for the Arabic lessons, although that’s not the case and all the lessons were free. He accompanied his demands with punches to my face and stomach. I was also lifted and thrown to the floor [more than once]. I was scared and in pain, I had to obey.”
Inobat Yakubova, the boy’s mother, was afraid to report the abuse until now. She had previously complained to the prosecutor’s office, which sent her back to the GKNB. She says an investigator there threatened that if she did not drop her complaint he would arrest her son and 17-year-old daughter.
Authorities in Tajikistan regularly round up practicing Muslims and, with flimsy evidence, charge them with Islamic extremism – sometimes in closed trials.
The enterprising news website that reported the story, Asia-Plus, has been blocked repeatedly this year in Tajikistan for criticizing the security services and President Emomali Rakhmon’s administration. Asia-Plus says it is seeking official comment.