In a statement released on March 20, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and eight other rights groups urged the Tajik government to immediately release a gravely ill political activist who claims to have been tortured.

During a visit on March 9, Mahmadali Hayit showed his wife "injuries on his forehead and stomach that he said were caused by beatings from prison officials to punish him for refusing to record videos denouncing Tajik opposition figures abroad," the statement said. 

Hayit’s wife Savrinisso Jourabekova was cited as saying her husband had told her that "he was not getting adequate medical care, and they both fear he may die in prison as a result of the beatings."

Hayit reportedly suffers from liver and kidney problems.  He also told his wife the prison authorities had denied him access to heart medication that she had brought to the prison. 

“These disturbing revelations about Mahmadali Hayit’s ill-treatment should jolt all of Tajikistan’s international partners into action,” said Nadejda Atayeva, president of the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia.  “We ask diplomatic representatives on the ground in Dushanbe to seek permission to visit Hayit and other prisoners of concern and press for their immediate release.”

The other groups are the Association for Central Asian Migrants, Freedom House, Freedom Now, Global Advocates, Human Rights Vision Foundation, and International Partnership for Human Rights.

Mahmadali Hayit, 62, had been deputy head of the banned Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT).  He was arrested in September 2015 and sentenced to life in prison in June 2016 following a closed trial.

Recall, the Supreme Court of Tajikistan delivered life sentences to the deputy IRPT heads Saidumar Husaini and Mahmadali Hayit on June 2, 2016. 

Eleven other IRPT leading members and activists were sentenced to jail terms ranging from 14 to 28 years.