24 June, 2014
GASPS Letter of Support for Alexander Sodiqov
Our friend and colleague, Alexander Sodiqov, a PhD student in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto, was arrested June 16th, in Khorog, Tajikistan. Alexander remains detained in Dushanbe, the Tajik capital, but he has not yet been charged under Tajik law. An edited video of him describing his activities to authorities has appeared online. Otherwise, he appears to have had little if any contact with anyone since his arrest seven days ago. Alexander had recently begun conducting interviews in the country’s Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region. His research concerning civil society and conflict prevention was part of an ongoing project through the University of Exeter, UK.
Alexander is a valued member of the University of Toronto community. He and his wife have developed strong local connections in Toronto. Their daughter is a Canadian citizen. Alex’s case has received media attention through The Guardian, Slate, and The National Post, and The Economist, among other local and international media outlets. OSCE, Freedom House, and Amnesty have issued statements of concern. An open letter by international scholars of Central Asian politics, professors, students, and concerned citizens is in circulation, as is an Avaaz petition, in order to raise awareness and share concern about Alex’s treatment and safety. We encourage students, professors, educators, and concerned citizens to sign the open letter and petitions, and to share them widely amongst your networks and through social media, using the hash tag #AlexSodiqov.
Alex’s colleagues are deeply concerned for his safety, and efforts have begun in Canada and the UK to secure his release. The Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development has stated that they are “aware of reports that a citizen from Tajikistan, studying in Canada has been arrested” and the University of Toronto issued a statement indicating “deep concern” about Alex’s health and safety in which the University called upon the government of Tajikistan to treat him in line with international standards. As the University of Toronto notes, the “detention of an academic researcher cuts to the core of the mission of the university: to produce and disseminate scholarly knowledge in an atmosphere of open expression and intellectual freedom,” and that it is “vital that scholars have the ability to conduct research on civil society in all areas of the world.”
The Graduate Association of Students of Political Science (GASPS) is currently coordinating efforts closely with Alex’s supervisor, Ed Schatz, and the University of Toronto, The Graduate Student Unions, and other organization and institutions in Canada and abroad to secure Alex’s release. Any members of GASPS or the greater academic community who are able lend support to our ongoing efforts in any way possible are invited to contact GASPS co-chairs Alesha Porisky (firstname.lastname@example.org ) and Matt Gordner (email@example.com).
Matt Gordner and Alesha Porisky