A group of Turkish lawyers released a scathing report on human rights violations in Tajikistan where they were detained last month while observing suppression of the Muslim community in the Central Asian country.
Gülden Sönmez and Emine Yıldırım, two lawyers working for a Turkish non-profit organization, were detained in Dushanbe along with a Russian lawyer on Jan. 22. They were allowed into the country while three other lawyers were denied entry. Sönmez and Yıldırım, joined by a group of activists, attended a press conference on violations of the rights of Muslims in the country. Activists said violations had become "unbearable" and the country's administration would not cease oppression of the community if the international community does not press Dushanbe. Cihat Gökdemir, an activist, said the Tajik government used the pretext of the threat of DAESH to crack down on devout Muslims.
"The suppression is justified with claims that DAESH recruits people among Muslim Tajiks," he claimed. He said that religious education in the country was also hindered and claimed that families were not allowed to send their children abroad to religious schools. Ömer Faruk Yıldırım, another activist, said there was a campaign against headscarves and men were forced to shave their beards, as the government accuses students of theology schools of terrorism and extremism.