SOAS University of London

Centre of Contemporary Central Asia & the Caucasus

Researchers at Risk in Central Asia: the Detention of Alexander Sodiqov

Dr John Heathershaw (Exeter), Saule Mukhametrakhimova, (Central Asia Editor, IWPR), Representative from Amnesty International (TBC)

Date: 27 June 2014Time: 12:00 PM

Finishes: 27 June 2014Time: 1:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: Khalili Lecture Theatre

Type of Event: Panel Discussion

Events will begin with a short video of Alex’s interrogation by the Security Services (which was shown on television in Tajikistan), followed by short talks by colleagues of Alexander, academics specializing on the region, and human rights activists.  Time will be allowed for questions and discussion.  Events will end with a call to action in the form of signing petitions, writing to the government of Tajikistan and  foreign governments, and, where appropriate, launching protests outside Tajik embassies overseas.

Principal Speakers
  • Dr. John Heathershaw (University of Exeter)
  • Saule Mukhametrakhimova, (Central Asia Editor, IWPR)
  • Representative from Amnesty International (TBC)
  • Chair: Professor Jonathan Goodhand, (SOAS)

Since 16 June 2014 Alexander Sodiqov, a young scholar and PhD student at the University of Toronto, has been in the custody of the security services in Tajikistan. Under contract to conduct academic 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.

In this global discussion, held on the same day in at least four settings, scholars consider not only the latest information about Sodiqov’s detention but also the broader implications for research scholars around the globe. In London, John Heathershaw, Sodiqov’s research supervisor, who was in Tajikistan during the time of Sodiqov’s detention, will talk about what happened while Saule Mukhametrakhimova, (Central Asia Editor, IWPR) will place events in the context of increasing repression of journalists and researchers in Tajikistan.


Dr John Heathershaw is a Senior Lecturer in International Relations with interests in two fields: Central Asian studies, including the former Soviet republics and Afghanistan; Peace and Conflict Studies, including the interdisciplinary study of the politics of conflict, security and political development. He has spent several years working for governmental, international non-governmental and academic institutions in and on Central Asia. 

Saule Mukhametrakhimova is originally from Kazakstan and worked as a journalist for the BBC World Service’s Central Asia and Caucasus section from 1994 to 1999. She joined IWPR as Central Asia and Caucasus Project Coordinator and was instrumental in launching these reporting services. Since 2000, Saule has served as IWPR's Central Asia Programme Manager and later Editor.

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