Story map documents the crackdown on civil society in GBAO
A story map documents the crackdown in GBAO in May and June 2022. It shows key events on a chronological timeline and locates them on a map. It also provides historical context information and links to texts, pictures and videos.
SUMMARY August 01-12, 2022: More long-term sentences, Khorugh City Park nationalized
Natives of GBAO who were arrested during the crackdown since May 2022 continue to be sentenced to long prison terms, often in secret trials without legal representation and due process. See an ADC Memorial article published on August 02, 2022, and a Eurasianet article published on August 11, 2022. The abduction of activists from Russia has been covered by The Diplomat, Radio Ozodi and Vot tak.
At the same time, the authorities in GBAO continue to impose their control on society and culture. On August 02, 2022, Pamir Daily News reported that local residents in Khorugh were coerced by the authorities to perform music and dance in front of delegations. On August 10, 2022, Radio Ozodi reported that the authorities had taken over Khorugh City Park which had been gifted to the Aga Khan in 2003 and rehabilitated by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.
The International Commission of Jurists called on the authorities of Tajikistan to ensure that detainees from GBAO were immediately guaranteed the right of access to a lawyer. ADC Memorial The Committee to Protect Journalists requested the release of journalists Ulfatkhonim Mamadshoeva and Khushruz Jumayev from GBAO. Open Democracy published an analysis of events in GBAO by researcher Suzanne Levi-Sanchez.
SUMMARY July 13-31, 2022: Expanding scope of the crackdown and comprehensive intimidation
Many of the natives of GBAO who had been detained during the crackdown on civil society on May and June 2022 were sentenced to long prison terms. The security forces were gradually expanding the scope of the crackdown, sending the message that nobody is safe from persecution, not even religious authorities or Russian citizens.
On July 27, 2022, Pamir Daily News reported that Muzaffar Davlatmirov, a local religious authority (khalifa) in UPD neighbourhood of Khorugh, had been detained the day before.
The authorities increasingly put pressure on educational organizations affiliated to the Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of the Ismailis. As summarized in an Eurasianet article, the tradition of summer camps for school children has been discontinued and the future of the Aga Khan Lycee in Khorugh, the most renowned school in GBAO, is under question. There are also indications that the authorities might plan to confiscate key commercial entities affiliated to the Aga Khan.
Various media, among them Radio Ozodi, have reported that two community organizers Oraz Vafirbekov and Ramzi Vafirbekov, who were citizens of the Russian Federation and had been influential among the Pamiri diaspora in Russia, had been forcibly disappeared at an airport in Moscow and taken to Dushanbe. A video shows both of them alleging that they had gone to Tajikistan voluntarily, which is denied by their relatives.
SUMMARY July 08-12, 2022
Arbitrary detentions of natives of GBAO, torture of detainees and convictions to long prison terms are continuing. Only few few cases hit the headlines, like the ones of Abdurakhim Gulobov who died in detention and of Adis Tutishoev who attempted to commit suicide after interrogation by the security forces.
On June 13, 2022, the human rights organization Genocide Watch issued a genocide watch for GBAO, drawing attention to the persecution of Pamiris in Tajikistan and warning of the potential for civil war.
In the most recent episode of the Majlis Podcast, host Bruce Pannier discusses the recent protests in Tajikistan's GBAO and Uzbekistan's Karakalpakstan with his guests.
A Radio Ozodi article discussed whether the recent promises by the Tajikistani authorities of an economic progress in GBAO would actually lead to sustainable development and highlighted that the announcement of infrastructure projects had been a common strategy after periods of unrest.
A Eurasianet article analyzed parallels between recent protests in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan's GBAO and Uzbekistan's Karakalpakstan and the reaction of the respective authorities. The author interpreted the protests as a result of "failures of those governments to address people’s basic socio-economic needs". A Radio Ozodi article drew attention to the pattern that all three governments blamed unspecified "foreign forces" and "third parties" for the protests.
SUMMARY July 07, 2022: European Parliament condemned the violent crackdown in GBAO
The European Parliament adopted a resolution on the human rights situation in GBAO. According to a press release, the resolution strongly condemned "the Tajik authorities’ violent crackdown against protesters, journalists, bloggers, lawyers and activists following demonstrations in the country’s Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous region in November 2021 and May 2022." It expressed the Parliament's "grave concerns at the deteriorating human rights situation in the area, while calling for an end to the repression of the local Pamiri minority and for their protection." The European Parliament urged Tajikistan "to allow international humanitarian and human rights organisations immediate and unconditional access to the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province to monitor the situation, and to fully restore communications and full internet access in the region". The Members of the European Parliament demanded "that people arbitrarily detained are immediately released and all charges against them dropped" urged for "independent investigations into the violent clashes and the right to fair trials." The final text of the adopted resolution is available here.
The adoption of the resolution followed after a debate in the plenary of the European Parliament on the human rights situation in GBAO on July 06, 2022. Radio Ozodi reported about the debate in Russian.
Eurasianet published an article about the construction projects in GBAO announced by the authorities (road from Kalaikhumb to Vanj, drinking water pipes, stadium, park and university building in Khorugh) to appease the population.
SUMMARY July 02-06, 2022: Detentions, torture and verdicts
Radio Ozodi reported that the verdict against Chorshanbe Chorshanbiev, who had been deported from Russia, detained by Tajikistani security agencies in December 2021 and sentenced to more than eight years in prison in May 2022, was confirmed by a court of appeal on June 29, 2022.
On July 04, 2022, Pamir Daily News reported the case of Khairimamad Dustmamadov who had been detained in Khorugh, tortured during detention, taken to hospital, survived a suicide attempt and again taken to a security agency office.
According to Radio Ozodi, the poet and camera operator Muyassar Sadonshoev who had recorded the statements of the "Commission of 44" on video, had been sentenced to eleven years in prison on June 24, 2022.
SUMMARY July 01, 2022: Governmental raid of property and businesses in GBAO
According to Pamir Daily News, the Tajikistani authorities are nationalizing businesses owned by informal authorities and businesspeople who had been killed or detained during the purges in GBAO in May and June 2022. They are allegedly also planning to confiscate assets belonging to detained Salam Imomnazarov.
Journalist Anora Sarkorova reported that Akim Akrizobekov, who had been closed to assassinated community leader Mamadbokir Mamadbokirov, had been sentenced to ten years in prison.
SUMMARY June 28-30, 2022: Harsh prison sentences against detained activists
Pamir Daily News reported that after the crackdown on civil society in GBAO, the authorities were pretending to work actively on the development of the region. A Eurasianet article drew attention to the chronological nexus between the crackdown in GBAO and the beginning of the rehabilitation of part of the road between Dushanbe and Khorugh with Chinese funding.
The first of those detained in the framework of the purges in Khorugh in May and June 2022 have been sentenced harshly to long prison terms: On June 26, 2022, Tutiyo Amirshoev was sentenced to eight years in prison. He is the cousion of Tutisho Amirshoev, one of the protesters killed by security forces in Khorugh on November 25, 2021. On June 29, 2022, Khujamir Pirnazarov and Shaftolu Bekdavlatov were sentenced to 18 years in prison. Both had been representatives of civil society in the "Commission of 44". The sports trainer Komron Mamadnazarov, who had been detained during the purge in UPD on June 12, was sentenced to five years in prison.
The transnational repression is continuing. Jonibek Chorshanbiev and Muslim Navruzov from Khorugh, who had published video statements after the November 2021 protests in Khorugh and had recently been detained in Moscow, were deported to Tajikistan and accused of appeals to violently change the constitutional order.
On June 29, 2022, the human rights organization Front Line Defenders in a statement expressed its grave concerns about the detention of human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists in GBAO, specifically addressing the cases of Ulfatkhonim Mamadshoeva and Manuchehr Kholiknazarov.
SUMMARY June 26-27, 2022: Indirect pressure on journalist Anora Sarkorova, general crackdown on civil society in Tajikistan
According to journalist Anora Sarkorova, Tutiye Amirshoev was sentenced to more than eight years in prison. He is the cousin of Tutisho Amirshoev who was killed by security forces in Khorugh on November 2021.
Anora Sarkorova, a native of GBAO living abroad, informed the public on June 27, 2022, that the Tajikistani authorities were pressuring her indirectly by summoning her relatives for interrogation or taking them into custody. Sarkorova played a key role in investigating the violent crackdown in Vamar on May 18-19, 2022, and publishing information about it.
Radio Ozodi published an article which contextualizes the recent detention and intimidation of journalists as an effort by the Tajikistani authorities to crack down on civil society and suppress any civic initiative in preparation of the imminent transition of power.
SUMMARY June 25, 2022
According to Radio Ozodi, internet access in GBAO was restored on June 25, 2022, which had been blocked since the dispersal of protests in Khorugh on May 16, 2022, and the violent crackdown on protesters in Vamar (Rushan district) on May 18, 2022, and throughout the whole period of the crackdown on civil society and state-sponsored terror in GBAO.