Shamil Khakimov, a Jehovah’s Witness jailed in Tajikistan, gained new support when Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, and Nury Turkel, chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, took to social media to advocate for his release.
Tajikistan is a central Asian country of 9.8 million people, with 98% of the population identifying themselves as Muslim.
“Shamil Khakimov, a Jehovah’s Witness in #Tajikistan, is serving 5 yrs in prison for peacefully sharing his faith,” Mr. Rubio tweeted. “This is an assault on religious freedom & has caused Shamil‘s health to deteriorate. He must be immediately released & reunited w his family.”
Mr. Turkel said Mr. Shamil Khakimov “health situation remains dire as Tajik authorities continue to unjustly detain him and deny him the medical treatment he needs. He should be released immediately so he can receive lifesaving care.”
Mr. Shamil Khakimov, 71, is a widower who was jailed in 2019 and convicted of “inciting religious hatred,” according to Tajikistan‘s criminal code. He suffers from heart problems, chronic sciatica and circulatory problems in his lower limbs. He‘s undergone two blood clot surgeries in his legs, but some wounds haven’t healed and he has early stages of gangrene in his left foot.