Statement of Concern for A. Sodiqov, Researcher Arrested in Tajikistan

Update: Alex Sodiqov and his family were able to return to Canada in early September.  For more info, see the article.

This announcement is being posted in conjunction with the Central Eurasian Studies Society (CESS):

Since 16 June 2014 Alexander Sodiqov, a young scholar and PhD student at the University of Toronto, has been in the custody of the secret services in Tajikistan. Under contract to conduct research for a British-funded project, Sodiqov had just started his research in Khorog, Tajikistan, when his ordeal began. The detention incommunicado of a young scholar has generated an international outcry - from students, from scholars, from universities, from human rights groups, and from foreign governments.  A recent Guardian article summarizes what happened and the context here  Latest information can be found on the website Release A. Sodiqov.

ASEEES has released a joint statement of concern, with CESS, the Association for the Study of Nationalities, and many other scholarly societies. 

If you would like to sign a petition in support of Sodiqov, please use the following links:

English Petition | Russian Petition

On Friday, June 27, an international event entitled "Researchers at Risk in Central Asia: The Detention of Alexander Sodiqov" will be held in many different locations around the globe, including London, Toronto, Washington, Paris, Germany, Kyrgyzstan, Australia, Russia, and Kazakhstan. In this global discussion, held on the same day in a growing number of settings, scholars consider not only the latest information about Sodiqov's detention but also the broader implications for research scholars around the globe. Anyone interested in hosting their own event is encouraged to do so. If you are interested in helping further, please contact: scholarsforsodiqov@gmail.com

We also received the following request from graduate students at the University of Toronto:

We are writing with great urgency in regard to the recent detention of Alexander Sodiqov, a University of Toronto doctoral student, who was detained on June 16, 2014 in Tajikistan.

Alex was conducting academic research on civil society and conflict management for his PhD, under contract with the University of Exeter. He has not been heard of since the evening of his detention. No confirmed charges have been laid as of June 23, 2014 9:00 EST. Family, friends and colleagues are deeply concerned for his health and safety.

The detention of an academic researcher cuts to the core of the mission of university research: to produce and disseminate scholarly knowledge in an atmosphere of open expression and intellectual freedom. It is vital that all scholars have the ability to conduct research on civil society in all areas of the world. 

We are asking members of the University community to release public statements urging authorities to respect Alex’s rights and to request his release. Attached is a template for your guidance. Please disseminate your statement widely through your networks and send a signed, electronic copy to lamamourad@gmail.com so that Alex's colleagues may post it to http://freealexsodiqov.org, which houses the most current information on Alex's case. 

Through a collective effort, we stand a better chance at ensuring the rights of Alex, and of all young scholars, are respected within the international community, and that Alex may return to Toronto to continue his studies as soon as possible. We hope we can count on your support.

Statement about the detention of Alexander Sodiqov:

Since 16 June 2014, Alexander Sodiqov, a doctoral student in Political Science at the University of Toronto, in Canada, has been held in detention by security forces in Tajikistan. The ______________ remains deeply concerned about the health and safety of Alexander.

Alexander was in Tajikistan conducting research on the topic of “Rising Powers and Conflict Management in Central Asia” under a contract with the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom. The project is funded by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council.

The detention of an academic researcher cuts to the core of the mission of university research: to produce and disseminate scholarly knowledge in an atmosphere of open expression and intellectual freedom. It is vital that all scholars have the ability to conduct research on civil society in all areas of the world. In conducting interviews in Khorog, it is our understanding that Alexander intended to further precisely these academic goals.

We understand that, as of 23 June 2014, 9:00 EST, no formal charges have been laid. However, the University of Toronto is continuing to work with various government agencies and non-governmental organizations to secure Alexander’s release, so that he and his family can return to Toronto and he can continue his doctoral studies without further delay.

The ______________ calls upon governmental authorities in Tajikistan to release Alexander Sodiqov. While he is detained, we hope and expect that the Tajikistan authorities will fully respect Alexander’s rights and treat him in conformity with international standards of justice and law. Furthermore, we encourage further involvement of all parties to expeditiously resolve this troubling and pressing issue. 

Please forward this to any and all of your academic networks.