Monthly Archives: December 2016

“Tajikistan is turning into the new Province of China”- Eurasianews

In recent years, the government of Tajikistan pays special attention to the replenishment of the state budget deficit. Especially, in this way the government of the country has succeeded, which is trying to patch up all budget holes in every possible ways, including such an extraordinary way, as the sale of age-old Tajik lands to foreign countries.

Two years ago, our country’s officials have solemnly signed a contract with Chinese partners for the sale of 1500 square kilometers of the Murghab district. Then Members of Parliament from every platform that portrayed the deal as a regular victory of the Tajik diplomacy. Parliamentarians boasted that they were able to sell to the Chinese less territory than demanded by foreigners for this pay. In fact, the lands sold to China are in repayment of external debt, however, statesmen, of course, do not admit it openly.

Only in the years of Tajikistan’s independence more than two million square kilometers of disputed territories turned over to the Chinese, and it is almost one percent of the total area of Tajikistan.

A recent trip to the Murghab district greatly disappointed me when I am personally convinced that the Chinese frontier guards have already established border posts, some of which are 20 kilometers deep into the territory of Tajikistan, while Tajikistan and China agreed on the transfer of only 1.5 thousand square kilometers of the area.

Today in Murghab district there are some Chinese experts by hydraulic structures. As noted by people in the know, the Chinese experts familiar with the riverbed of the Zerafshan and study the terrain to give expert assessment on the possibility of constructing here next reservoir and hydroelectric power plants, which foreigners have promised to fund generously. However, the reverse side of these agreements is not as advertised to the public, because in return the Chinese intend to continue to expand its territory at the expense of the Murghab district.

I should add that the Chinese company ‘Zuntai Khatlon Xing Silu’ has the right to 49 years free of rent of 15 thousand hectares of the land in the south of Tajikistan. Local MPs have motivated their decision that it’s been given wasteland to the Chinese, which will now be grown cotton there. Additionally, they rented 6.3 thousand hectares of arable land in Dangara district of Khatlon region.

It must be said that 93 percent of Tajikistan’s territory is covered by mountains, the total area of productive land is only 865 thousand hectares.

Today, Tajiks have not enough fertile lands, and the ‘father of the nation’ does not get tired to give our lands to repay foreign debts. In their defense officials from the highest offices voicing false information that the land leased to local farmers who Chinese experts in consultation engaged in their cultivation, but coming on the field, you can see with your own eyes that there is no Tajik around, thousands of Chinese are wandering in our lands instead.

If agreement on the aforementioned issues will be achieved, we can confidently say that in the future Tajik people with many children will be forced to seek refuge in other countries, because narrow-spirited government of the republic, guided by the short-term economic success, admits such a thoughtless squandering of their lands.


Bakhtiyor Atovulloev, Dushanbe


AlJazeera: “Tajikistan: The success story that failed”

Aljazeera:Tajikistan: The success story that failed

In power since 1992, Rahmon has gradually tightened the noose taking full control of the parliament, the judiciary and the elections, writes Torfeh [Getty]

Tajikistan may be a small country in Central Asia, but it was once hailed by the United Nations as one of the few international success stories of peace and reconciliation.

Yet the events of this year alone have turned Tajikistan into a model, not for success, but for the failure of the international community in sustaining the democratic achievements of a nation that lost 100,000 lives to end a five-year civil war between 1992 and 1997.

The Tajik president, Emomali Rahmon, has movedto make himself president for life, ban and imprison all opposition and silence the media – and the world has remained silent.

Today is the 17th anniversary of the Electoral Law of December 10, 1999, which led to the first multi-party elections observed by the UN and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

This was supposed to put in place a parliament truly reflective of the peace and reconciliation accord of June 1997, guaranteeing a power-sharing system with a 30 percent quota of positions for the opposition, made up mainly of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) and the Democratic Party of Tajikistan.

Today, that opposition is all but obliterated. Many have faced suspicious deaths, others allegations of terrorism in “blatantly unfair [trials] behind closed doors, marred by serious violations of due process and credible allegations of torture or ill-treatment in pre-trial detention.” In May 2016, Tajik prosecutors demanded life sentences for leaders of IRPT, which was banned in September 2015.

Tajik President Rahmon, in power since 1992, has gradually tightened the noose: taking full control of the parliament, the judiciary and the elections process, thus overruling the separation of powers.

Controversial constitutional amendments in May 2016 granted him to rule indefinitely, effectively removing all the term limitations. The minimum age for a candidate has been lowered so that the president could hand over to his son.

Where did all go wrong?

But how did this drastic misuse of a UN-observed reconciliation accord happen, and why are the UN, OSCE, Russia and Iran, which designed and observed the process, quiet?

The first reason is the weakness of the opposition itself. The leader of the IRPT, Said Abdullah Nuri, presided over a party that became powerful in the year 2000, with its members filling most of the government positions allocated. It had transformed from an armed organisation to one committed to peaceful and legal political methods.

Yet in the process, the party made too many concessions to the president to ensure those government posts remain intact. This, in turn, created conflict within the IRPT leadership, and deep frustration among many of its members.

The failed democratisation in Tajikistan provides a perfect breeding ground for youth radicalisation.

Moreover, IRPT did not use its power for protecting democratic institutions and democratic rights. Some IRPT members continued to use mosques and madrasas for political activities, despite a legal prohibition. The president used their activities as an excuse to ban and confront them, and then to prohibit Islamic teaching.

Now, 70 percent of all mosques are closed. Important preachers, such as Eishan Nourdinjon Tourajonzoda and Eishan Abdul Khalil, are banned from preaching, religious schools have been closed down and there are cases of forced beard-shaving and removal of headscarves. Muhiddin Kabiri, the leader of IRPT, escaped Tajikistan and is currently somewhere in Europe, fearing for his life.

International silence

The second reason for the deterioration is that the need for post-conflict stabilisation in Tajikistan was never tackled seriously by the two main international guarantors: the OSCE and the UN. Both organisations initially pledged “continued international support”, yet neither really followed through.

On the 10th anniversary of the peace accord, a statement by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made no mention of any problems. At a meeting in June 2015, Ban and Rahmon discussed water sanitation. In a joint press conference that followed, one small sentence was uttered about “implementing UN human rights recommendations”.

Even at the outset, when President Rahmon changed the constitution to increase his tenure from five to seven years, the UN and the OSCE stood by in silence.

A special UN office was set up in May 2000 with the task of “helping to build democratic institutions, and promoting respect for human rights”, but it proved ineffective.

Other UN agencies have been equally silent. While President Rahmon has taken part in several UNESCO events, celebrating Tajik culture, UNESCO has never highlighted the abysmal state of freedom of expression in the arts (and other sectors) in Tajikistan.

Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders have often raised alarms over the treatment of imprisoned journalists, but little UN or OSCE condemnation has been voiced.

Khikmatullo Sayfullozoda, the editor of Najot, a newspaper linked to IRPT was arrestedin September 2015, and sentenced to 16 years in prison.

Harassment of independent journalists has also intensified. Mohiedin Dustov, the editor of Nigoh newspaper, is receiving death threats. Several lawyers who defended the IRPT’s leaders were themselves tried and convicted, while two-thirds of the country’s lawyers have been disbarred.

The OSCE having the “longest-running operation in Central Asia”, has observed five elections in Tajikistan. While it has criticised the processes every time, it has not been outspoken enough about the failures of the electoral process, the sham referendums and the human rights abuses.

READ MORE: Tajikistan – Indefinite autocracy takes hold

As for Iran and Russia, the two main supporters of the conflicting sides, they seem to have concluded a more important deal between themselves over regional power-sharing. This is why Iran has remained surprisingly silent on the treatment of Islam and the IRPT, which it once supported wholeheartedly.

While the international community remains silent on the abuses in Tajikistan, its failed democratisation has become a perfect breeding ground for youth radicalisation. Official figures say 1,094 Tajik nationals have joined the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, known as ISIS). Other militant groups in the region area also recruiting: the Taliban in Afghanistan, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and the Uighur East Turkestan Islamic Movement of China.

It will soon be clear that this international silence will cost the region dearly.

Massoumeh Torfeh is the former director of strategic communication at the UN Assistance Mission for Afghanistan and is currently a research associate at the London School of Economics and Political Science specialising in Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asia. She was the UN spokesperson in Tajikistan between 1998 and 2000 during the peace and reconciliation process.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.


10 Dec 2016