Civil Society Coalition against Torture and impunity in Tajikistan
Case History №12: Shahbol Mirzoev
He is luckier than others – despite the humiliation and serious injury he received in the army, he survived. Although he is now chained to the bed and relatives are allowed to roll Shahbol just for two hours a day in a wheelchair, he's alive! Despite the disability and miserable, degrading disability benefits, he's alive! And he hopes for the best, making progress during the daily trainings, whichever he can afford - doctors predict that in two years he will be able to stand on his own feet.
The story of Shahbol Mirzoyev, an ordinary conscript who served in Tajik Army and had been subjected to ill-treatment by fellow Senior Officer, shocked many people.
It's been more than two years, and he still remembers that tragic day, because of which he is still in the hospital and have a long treatment course ahead.
In 2013, the 22-year-old Shahbol Mirzoev wanted to join the Khujand’s Airport Custom service upon graduating from the Law faculty of Khujand University of Commerce. However before that he was required to serve one year in the Army. That’s how he voluntarily jointed the military service. Shahbol was sent to the training Unit of the Border troops of Tajikistan, located in the Rudaki district. 7 months of military service passed in no time. It was March 2014, behind was the harsh winter and he only few months before demobilization. But everything changed in an instant.
Shahbol was very healthy before the accident
On 6 of March, Shahbol woke up with unbearable tooth pain and turned to the infirmary of the military unit 2620 in Rudaki district. According to the official version, Senior paramedic Usman Gairatov, who was on duty that day, instead of taking care of the patient started to insult him and required to perform degrading ritual for young conscripts. When the young man ignored the provocation, the medical attendant grabbed and threw him on his back on the floor. Doctors diagnosed him with a fracture to the fifth spinal disk, damage to various organs, dysfunction hips with urinary tract overlap. Thus, instead of demobilization, he had hospital wards, numerous operations, unbearable pain and future in a wheelchair.
Immediately after the accident, father the disabled soldier appealed to President Emomali Rahmon with official letter, in which he asked to take personal control over the investigation process and bring the perpetrators to the justice.
Perhaps as reaction to the letter, on 14 of March 2014, Military Prosecutor of Dushanbe garrison initiated a criminal case against Usmon Gayratov under Article 373 part 2 “Violating the Rules of Conduct Prescribed by Military Regulations In Governing Relations Between Military Men Not Subordinated to Each Other” of the Criminal Code. Later, the investigation added another article of the Criminal Code - 127, Part 1 (Leaving in danger).
The court hearings started in June 2015 a trial was held. Usman Gairatov was accused in abuse of powers and violation of statutory regulations. Along with Gairatov the court took measures against the paramedic of the Rudaki Military Unit Gulrukhsor Shirinova, who was accused of negligence for deliberately leaving her post that day.
During the trial, Shahbol’s fellow soldiers confirmed that was beaten by Gayratov, while Muzaffar Najmiddinov, doctor from the National Medical Center stated that Shahbol Mirzoyev was in very bad conditions when he was delivered at the hospital and had almost no chances to survive.
On 19 June2014 the Military Court of Dushanbe Garrison sentenced Usmon Gayratov to 9 years in prison, and Gulrukhsor Shirinova to 1.5 years of corrective labor with confiscation of 15% of her salary. However, under the recent amnesty dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the Constitution the sentences were reduced by one third, from 9 to 6 years for Gayratov while Shirinova was completely pardoned.
One could wonder what had Shahbol to go through these two long years. Endless hospital wards - first at the National Medical Center, then in Moscow, where his family had to take for surgery using the money they received selling the house in the Asht, and later were hit again - pneumonia and intensive care in the Sughd regional hospital, and currently is being treated in the regional hospital.
In spring 2015, Military Court of Dushanbe Garrison ordered The Border Troops to pay Shahbol’s family the amount of 100 thousand somoni as a compensation for physical damage and 20 thousand somoni for moral damage. In fact, the amount doesn’t commensurate with the costs, the family already spent, however Shahobol was not able to receive even this amount – on 6 of August 2015 the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court overturned the court decision and requested the Military court to reconsider the case. According Shahbol’s father, Numon Mirzoyev, the court sent a request the clinic in Moscow to present all receipts and documents confirming the surgery and treatment costs in Moscow.
We visited Shahbola in June 2016. Now this hospital ward became the second, and after the selling the house in Asht, rather the first home for Mirzoev’s family. There are all necessary dishes and utensils on the table; there is an electric stove and refrigerator, a TV set, a second bed for the family members, who take turn to care of Shahbol, the ward include a bathroom and a balcony.
Bedridden for more than 2 years
Shahbol greeted us with a smile and even got up. I've seen pictures of him after the tragedy – of an utterly emaciated man, similar to the pictures of Auschwitz victims, I saw as a child. “Before he was a healthy guy and weighed 82 kilograms – said Shahbol’s mother Zaytuna Mirzoyeva – however after this incident he weighed about 50 kilograms. Now he managed to gain at least 6-7 kilograms”. Indeed, he looks much better now, smiling, talking, he started to feel his feet again and can sit in a wheelchair for two hours a day.
And even now Shahbol got dressed with the help of his brother and mother who later took him to the balcony in a wheelchair, to let him take a breath of fresh air. "Usually we stroll around the clinic for two hours a day”, - says Mirzo, Shahbol’s brother.
Despite all the sufferings, Shahbol is a very kind hearted person. “I do not hold a grudge against the perpetrators - said Shahbol. - They've got what they deserved. At the moment the most important thing for me is to get back on my feet”.
Materials was prepared in the frame of the project on “Actions against torture in Kazakhstan and Tajikistan”, with financial assistance of the European Union The contents of this materials are the sole responsibility of the organizations issuing it and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.