The leader of a political movement of Tajikistan «Group 24» Umarali Kuvatov is in detention in Istanbul since 19 December 2014.
According to current information available to our organisation, Umarali Kuvatov is detained in the police department for foreigners of the Bureau of Centre for Deportations (Yabancilar Şubesi Sinsrdişi Işlemleri ve Geri Gönderme Merkezi Büro Amirliği). Before that he was held in the Gayreteppe police station of Istanbul (Istanbul Gayrettepe Asayis Sube Mudurlugu Hirsizlik Buro Amirligi).
Umarali Izatovich Kuvatov was born on 21 November 1968 in the city of Dushanbe. He is a citizen of Tajikistan, married and has children. He is an entrepreneur.
From 2001 to 2012 U. Kuvatov, in cooperation with Shamsullo Sokhibov, the sun-in-law of the President Imomali Rakhmon, worked on shipment of fuel to the NATO base in Afghanistan. As a result of a conflict with Sokhibov, he had to leave the country and became a member of the opposition.
In 2012 Kuvatov became a leader of the «Group 24» movement, which campaigns for stopping the President of Tajikistan. In 2014 Tajikistan declared the «Group 24» an «extremist organisation».
Kuvatov has been living in Turkey since July 2014. He entered Turkey on a passport to someone else's name, explaining that it was the only way to avoid his arrest on departure from Bishkek. In 2013, in Bishkek, Kuvatov applied for international protection under the UNHCR and his case is still pending. In the first days after his arrival, he registered with the UNHCR Office in Istanbul. However, he did not register with the Turkish police which lead to a violation of administrative law of Turkey.
Tajikistan declared Kuvatov as a wanted person and calls the "Group of 24" an extremist organisation.
About 8:30 AM, on 19 December 2014, 7 plain clothed men stormed into the house in Istanbul where Umarali Kuvatov lives with his family. They asked him to identify himself after which they lead away him and other three members of the «Group 24» who were in his house. His house was searched; appliances and a large number of documents relating to political activity of the leader were seized.
The UNHCR is aware of Umarali Kuvatov’s detention, but until now the UNHCR representatives have not visited him and they did not provide legal representation for him. The lawyer hired by Umarali Kuvatov’s wife was able to review the case file, but copies of the documents were seized from him. According to Kuvatov’s wife, copies of documents were taken from the lawyer in front of her, they said that it is a special case and therefore the information was classified. As it appears, the case materials contain some information that Kuvatov reported only to the UNHCR.
The Association for Human Rights in Central Asia — AHRCA expresses its concern about the situation of the leader of Tajik opposition organisation “Group 24” Umarali Kuvatov and his colleagues Husain Ashuro (date of birth 01.02.1981), Sukhrob Turaev (date of birth 24.11.1978), Abdurashid Khomidov (date of birth 15.12.1989). They all are citizens of Tajikistan. We call on the UNHCR to enforce the principle of confidentiality in this regard, as well as effective international protection from torture and forced extradition to Tajikistan.