Political Exiles

Welcome to the Central Asian Political Exiles (CAPE) database. You can:

Open Society FoundationsFunding

The CAPE project is supported in part by a grant from the Open Society Foundations.

About the CAPE database

As political opposition, free press and civil society have disappeared from much of Central Asia they have moved into exile. There are none more aware of this shift than the security ministries of the Central Asian states. Just as these individuals and movements faced repression at home, they now face it abroad, especially elsewhere in the Former Soviet Union, but also beyond.

The Central Asian Political Exiles (CAPE) database was built and is maintained to chart the extra-territorial security measures deployed by Central Asian states and the human rights threats, abuses and concerns faced by exiles and opposition movements. It was initiated in October 2014 by John Heathershaw and Alexander Cooley in partnership with David Lewis and Ed Lemon. At first it was constructed in an ad hoc and inductive manner as cases came up in wider research; later it became more systematic and deductive with search of the ECtHR archive and other standard sources. The first publication of the CAPE database took place in November 2016. All 125 of the cases included in the first public edition of the database are citizens of the five Central Asian Republics (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan). What we have found is the widespread and increasing use of extra-territorial security measures by all Central Asian states but with more cases from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.


Research publications which have used the CAPE database include:

  • Alexander Cooley and John Heathershaw, Dictators without Borders: power and money in Central Asia, London and New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017
  • John Heathershaw, Eve Bishop and Rosa Brown, ‘Practices and Patterns of Extraterritorial Security: introducing the Central Asian Political Exiles (CAPE) database’, in Adam Hug (ed), No shelter: The harassment of activists abroad by intelligence services from the former Soviet Union, London: Foreign Policy Centre, November 2016, pp.20–24
  • Edward Lemon, ‘Tajikistan: The transnationalisation of domestic struggles’, in Adam Hug (ed), No shelter: The harassment of activists abroad by intelligence services from the former Soviet Union, London: Foreign Policy Centre, November 2016, pp.25–8

Let us know if you have used the database, and what for.

Criteria and methodology

Separate articles specify the parameters and definitions used, as well as the ethics and methodology that guides the CAPE database.


Learn how it is kept up-to-date, by regular review and revision, and the criteria for adding or removing names.

Click to go to CAPE

News items

Tajikistan’s Repression Beyond Borders: the case of Namunjon Sharipov

By Ayesha Kenan, Nathan Sutton and Saipira Furstenberg

On the 20th of February, Namunjon Sharipov, a senior leader of the Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) was forcefully returned from Turkey to Tajikistan. Namunjon Sharipov, a senior leader of the IRPT, fled Tajikistan to Turkey in August 2015. In Turkey, Sharipov opened a Tajik teahouse and worked as a businessman. Prior to the […]

Tajikistan’s transnational repressions in the age of global authoritarianism: Findings from the Central Asia Political Exile Database (CAPE) project

Introduction Apparently distant and closed authoritarian regimes are increasingly enmeshed and integrated in the processes of globalisation. It is widely assumed that such globalisation undermines authoritarian rule. The advancement in communication technologies, information and international financial transaction facilitated the rise and empowerment of diaspora capable of instigating social change in the home country. It further […]

Central Asian Political Exiles database launched

The Central Asian Political Exiles database (CAPE) is now live. The database includes exiles and political refugees from five Central Asian states (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan). Four types of exiles are includes (Former regime insiders, Secular oppositionists, Religious exiles and alleged extremists, Journalists and civil society activists). The extra-territorial security measures taken against them […]