Der Folgende Text ist ein offener Brief von Humayra Bakhtiyar, einer Journalistin aus Tadschikistan. Wir haben in der Vergangenheit mit Humayra zusammengearbeitet und veröffentlichen den Brief daher auch auf unserer Seite. Einen Artikel über sie im Amnesty Journal findet sich hier: https://www.amnesty.de/informieren/amnesty-journal/tadschikistan-die-unbequeme
Hamburg, Germany July 1. 2019
Dear Sir, Madam:
I’m a journalist from Tajikistan and have lived last three-year in Germany. I left Tajikistan in June 2016, after long years of pressures, threatens and persecution for my profession as journalist. Basically, I write articles covering all aspects of our life, especially issues regarding human rights, parliament, nepotism and political issues in Tajikistan. I started working in media in 2007.
Tajikistan is a country which depends on international support for developing Human Rights and Political Rights of people. The main mission of a journalist and a mass media person is to tell people what is going on in the country. This was my mission as well.
I could not continue my professional work in Tajikistan. Despite the pressure, I fought to keep my journalist place. Unfortunately, in September 2015 my editor-in-chief (Asia-Plus) told me that the Intelligence Service of Tajikistan (former KGB) does not want to see me in journalism and he fired me off. I found Social Media the only platform for exchanging my views and opinions and continued to be active. In October 2015, there was an incident of my kidnap in the Center of Dushanbe, after which I decided to leave country.
I appreciate your works which gave me a hospitality and protection in my difficult time!
Right now I’m afraid of the security and well-being of my family. As I left country, I realized that I can fight for democratization of Tajik society and freedom of speech from Europe. I have started to take part in conferences and events in which we have so far tried to inform international community and to raise our voices regarding the situations in the country. The Tajik government did not like it. Since May 2018, Intelligence Service of Tajikistan has used my family as hostages in order to force me to go back to the country.
My 57-years old father, Bakhtiyar Muminov, is a teacher. He got many phone calls for the “conversation” and also he was invited to the KGB office. They pressurized him to call me for going back to Tajikistan.
There were several kinds of threatens. First, intelligence services threatened him, if I would not return voluntary; they can kidnap me from Europe to Tajikistan. Later, for the safety of my family they gave me an offer to stop my activities and works as an independent journalist in Europe and not to meet with Tajik Oppositions and I should not write on Social Media etc. The offer I have refused.
In the middle of December 2018, my father was invited by the security services again. Following being abused and tortured, he was informed that there is a criminal case against me and he was shown some photos and video of mine in which I was present in the different events and conferences in Europe. Security services told my father that my name would be included in the Interpol’s red list as soon as possible. The intelligence Service threatened him, if I will share all these on social media, my family would be under danger. I have already informed some human rights organizations and missions about these pressures on my family members.
It was difficult to explain to my father that it is impossible to kidnap me in the Europe and even if Tajik government will give my name to the Interpol, it does not mean my deportation to Tajikistan. My father was so afraid and sometimes he talked with me so nervous that “why I do not listen to him”. Many time I asked my father to give my mobile number to the intelligence services officials and tell them to talk with me personally. (it is worthy to note that when I have been in Dushanbe, I never shared my problems with my family, because they would be worried and I tried to protect them and keep away from the security problems).
I feel myself guilty. Following having faced these pressures and threatens, my father had a heart attack and surgery in April 2019.
On July 12, 2019 my father was invited again, but this time to the police office. My father has called me from unknown mobile number. It was policeman’s number and the speaker was on. I heard how my father repeated police’s questions about my returning to the Tajikistan. I wanted to talk to the police. The man introduces himself as Behruz. (I recorded some parts of this conversation; I have audio as a fact).
As I understand from my conversation with police, the reason of issuing a criminal case against me was my participations and having speeches in the conferences in the Dortmund, Germany and Warsaw, Poland. They showed my father some photos of mine in which I was busy in talking with Tajik Opposition figures. The criminal case was opened on 5 December 2018, 307 (статья) which can be sentenced to jail from 3 to 15 years.
The police told me that I have to return back, because the President has already forgiven me and there was no danger to go back: “If you will not return voluntary, we will give your name to the Interpol and you will be returned to Tajikistan as soon as possible. That’s why, we advice to you return voluntary”.
I asked them to give me a time for studying the offer and it was just for saving time.
Later, I was not able to contact with my father. Then, it took time for me to find some persons, who could meet my father and ask him some questions.
The police was rude and abused my father. Unfortunately, my father was threatened by the security services not to share these pressures to anyone. He just shortly said to my friend: “You know the situation in Tajikistan. The police told me that I would lose my job and be sentenced to jail, if my daughter (Humayra) will not return back. If the Tajik police decides to arrest me or my sons (my brothers and sisters, who live in Dushanbe), no one can help us. This is the reality of our country. I am not afraid of myself, because I lived long time, but my sons are so young and I can not to imagine their arrest.”
Ladies and Gentlemen!
After this, I have talked with my father twice. He knew that his mobile was being heard by the government and just shortly said to me: “Keep yourself in safety and don’t think about us”. His voice is so hopeless and tired.
I decided to call international society to help and save my family members!
I and my profession are the reason behind these threats. Despite of all threats against me, I continue to work as an independent journalist and to do something for freedom of speech. But, it is too hard to accept that I can be the reason for tragedy of my family. My family should not pay the price for my activities. I pay price highly, it is enough. I do not know when I can see my family and my joining with my family might take years. My dream was previously to see family members all together. But now, I have a dream to keep them safe and well-being.
Such a horrible use of family members and relatives as hostage is not only with my family. There are hundred families of Tajik political activists, who live in the Europe, have the same situation.
I kindly ask all of you to help us and to stop use of families and relatives as political hostages. Thanks.
Humayra Bakhtiyar, journalist.
UN Human Rights Committee
Human Rights Watch
Civil Rights Defenders
Norwegian Helsinki Committee
Reporter Without Borders
Hamburger Stiftung fur Politisch Verfolgte
Committee Journalists Support