KHUJAND, Tajikistan -- A former member of the banned Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), who quit his political activities years ago, has been sentenced to five years in prison for being "a member of a banned extremist organization."
A court in the northern Tajik city of Khujand pronounced the verdict and sentencing of Mirzo Hojimuhammad, also known as Mirzoqul Hojimatov, on June 1.
Relatives say Hojimuhammad, the former deputy chief of the IRPT's branch in Khujand, quit all political activities in 2015 and had worked as a physician in Russia's Tyumen region since 2019.
According to the relatives, charges against Hojimuhammad, who holds dual Russian-Tajik citizenship, stemmed from unspecified posts he placed on Facebook.
The 63-year-old former politician returned to Tajikistan in February and was immediately ordered not to leave the country. On May 22, he was arrested.
The IRPT, long an influential party with representatives in the Tajik government and parliament, was labeled an extremist and terrorist group and banned in 2015 -- moves the party and human rights groups say were unjustified and politically motivated.
Dozens of IRPT officials and supporters have been prosecuted and many of them imprisoned, drawing further criticism of President Emomali Rahmon's government from rights groups.
Activists say Rahmon, who has ruled Tajikistan since 1992, has used the security forces and other levers of power to sideline opponents and suppress dissent.