On 9 July 2021, Buzurgmehr Yorov, a Tajikistani human rights lawyer and outspoken critic of the government, will mark his 50th birthday behind bars. Yorov was wrongfully imprisoned in September 2015 and sentenced to 22 years on trumped-up charges. Ahead of this milestone birthday, human rights organisations CIVICUS and the International Partnership of Human Rights (IPHR) call for his immediate and unconditional release.
In 2015, Buzurgmehr was arrested after representing members and leaders of the banned opposition party, the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRTP). Following his arrest, he was interrogated for ten hours and allegedly beaten. He was then detained for eight months before his trial began – during this time he was physically abused and held in solitary confinement on many occasions.
In a series of closed and unfair trials held between October 2016 and August 2017, the human rights lawyer was convicted on various charges, including overthrowing the government, inciting unrest, and insulting the President and government officials. Although his sentence was reduced by six years in November 2019 to mark the 25th anniversary of Tajikistan’s constitution, he is currently being held in the Strict Regime Prison Colony No.1 in Dushanbe.
In May 2019, the UN Human Rights Council concluded that Buzurgmehr’s arbitrary detention is against international law, and it called on the Tajikistan authorities to release him immediately.