TAJIKISTAN & Central Asia Visit NEWS, EVENT and TESTIMO

Dates, testimonies, articles, descriptions
kmaherali
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Joined: Thu Mar 27, 2003 3:01 pm

Post by kmaherali »

Update from theismaili.org

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Mawlana Hazar Imam addresses the Jamat during the Golden Jubilee Darbar in Porshinev. Photo: Akbar Hakim

Today, Mawlana Hazar Imam granted a second Golden Jubilee Darbar to the Jamat of Gorno-Badakhshan at Porshinev.

Many murids had travelled from neighbouring villages and some had camped through the night. By dawn, a gathering of over 100 000 awaited Mawlana Hazar Imam’s arrival.

During the Darbar, the Jamat presented Mawlana Hazar Imam with a traditional harp — a symbol of the ancient musical traditions of Central Asia. Afterwards, Hazar Imam departed Porshinev and travelled to Dushanbe.

In the afternoon, Mawlana Hazar Imam and President Emomali Rahmon held a final meeting in the airport VIP terminal, before Hazar Imam’s departure from Tajikistan. The President presented Mawlana Hazar Imam with a gift of ceremonial Tajik garments. Then, in an unprecedented gesture of friendship, the President accompanied Mawlana Hazar Imam to his aircraft and personally bid him farewell.

From Dushanbe, Mawlana Hazar Imam travelled to the Kyrgyz Republic for the third leg of his Golden Jubilee visit to Central Asia. Arriving in the evening at Manas International Airport near the capital city of Bishkek, Mawlana Hazar Imam was greeted with a traditional Kyrgyz welcome.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ednan Karabaev, received Mawlana Hazar Imam on behalf of the government. Senior government officials and AKDN leaders were also present to welcome Hazar Imam.

Mawlana Hazar Imam then met with the Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan, His Excellency Igor Chudinov, who hosted him at dinner.

Additional photos are available in the Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan galleries. Further details on Mawlana Hazar Imam’s visit to Central Asia will continue to be posted at TheIsmaili.org.

http://www.theismaili.org/?id=563
Indigo
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Joined: Wed Jun 04, 2008 12:30 pm

Post by Indigo »

I feel honoured and priviledged to share with all the experiences of myself and my family in Tajikistan for our loving Moulla's Golden Jubilee celebration in this special part of the world.
The whole trip had an ethereal, dream-like quality to it. The disappointment of cancellation of darbar in Dushanbe (for political reasons) was well offset by our loving Moulla. We saw Moulla at various places in Dushanbe, six times over a two-day period. Each time as Moulla's motorcade past, Moulla would put down his window, lean out despite the bitter cold and smile and wave with both hands at His murids, including ourselves, who lined the streets in large numbers, waving the My Flag and the national flag of Tajikistan. Imagine how much Moulla loves His murids. He knew they would not be able to see Him properly through the tinted glass of His window and so each time He put down His window. All we can say is Shukrana from our hearts. All the streets through which Moulla's motorcade would pass had been festooned with colourful banners of Welcome to Moulla written in the Tajik/Russian and English. Many of the Tajik Ismailis waited patiently on the streets for Moulla's motorcade to pass. I was touched to learn that many of them were students and most of them could not afford to go for the darbars in Badakshan. But they were very happy and said that these glimpses of Moulla as His car passed were deedar for them. How humble and Imani they are! We all need to learn a lesson from them.
And now came the challenge of travelling to Badakshan for the darbars in Ishkhashim (4th Nov) and Khorog (5th Nov). Due to cloudy weather flights to Khorog had been cancelled and cars were in great demand with prices rocketing daily and hourly. I know of a group who actually paid over 300USD per person to be driven upto Khorog and back. My family and I were extremely fortunate to obtain a lift from a Tajik ismaili man and his daughter who were driving upto Khorog for the darbars and who had place in his car for us. We were totally blown away by their hospitality. First of all, he took us to his home in Dushanbe and asked his wife to cook Pilov (scented rice with meat) specially for us. We objected but the y would hear none of it. After the delicious meal, they showed us pictures of Moulla taken during His previous visits to Tajikistan. They didnt seem to have any other (recent) photos of Mawlana Hazir Imam so we promised to send them some. We also gave them the movie of Mawlana Hazir Imam's Golden Jubilee Visit to East Africa. They were so excited and happy, it was amazing. I was struck by their simple house & way of living. It was indeed very refreshing. We were then given pillows and blankets to rest before setting off and were warned about lack of washrooms on the way so that we could use their facilities and prepare ourselves well to endure the loooong ride. He was indeed a very good driver and although the road was rough we hardly notices, so engrossed were we in the beautiful scenario of the Pamir mountains, valleys, canyons and the shimmering waters of the River Panj that we passed along the way. The scenaries looked like they had been painted on. Truly breathtaking. We arrived in on the outskirts of Khorog & found the road blocked because Moulla was just about to step out of the Khorog Serena Inn on His way to the Ismaili Centre. How lucky was that. We immediately stood alongside the Tajik ismailis who had gathered in large numbers. The volunteers who noticed we were guests kindly took us right to the front at the fence of the hotel, through which we would have a clear view of Mowlana Hazir Imam's exit from the hotel into His waiting Landcruiser. This was yet another example of Tajik hospitality and respect for their ismaili brethren from abroad. Mawlana Hazir Imam came out, looked, smiled and waved at all of us. The crowd burst into applause and loud chantings of the salwat. Mawlana Hazir Imam then put His hand to His heart and smiled. As His motorcade left the compound Mawlana Hazir Imam once again put His window down, leaned out slightly and kept on waving at the gathered ismailis. What a beautiful and poignant moment this was, easpecially for us, having just arrived at the opportune moment. I felt like Pirs must have felt when after travelling for days on end through arduous conditions, they finally arrived in Moulla's huzur. We steadfastly decided to stay at the Inn until Mawlana Hazir Imam's return and once again received His deedar upon His return two hours later. How dashing He looked in His overcoat and what a beautiful smile he wore. We were so happy to note He looked healthy, happy and glowing with the cold bringing out warm colour on his cheeks. It was heavenly to see our magnificent Mawlana Hazir Imam smiling against a backdrop of majestic scenary. We then set of for Khorog city. All the streets had been lined with buckets of flowers. This was a unique touch. There were also banners, balloons and the houses had been adorned with colourful lights. I was also amazed to see a huge welcome sign with a beautiful illuminated drawing of the Taj on the face of the mountains overlooking Khorog. As we enter the town we could hear festive music at different junctures, with loud sounds of merry-making. Our ismaili host told us this was all happiness due to the deedar and Mawlana Hazir Imam's presence in Khorog. He then took us to his brother's house where once again we were welcomed very warmly and fed with meat, potatoes, their traditional kulchaa (bread), nuts, sweets, chocolates and hot green tea. The washroom facilities here were also very good and once again we were told to rest for a few hours before leaving for Ishkhashim. Upon reaching the darbar site, we were taken by volunteers to the very front row right opposite the stage because we were guests. At that time I felt deeply ashamed because in my country, guests were given places at the rear of the darbar hall. The Ishkhashim Deedar was truly memorable. A crowd of about 40000 had gathers with an extra 8000-10000 Afghan ismailis standing on the mountain side across the river. Mawlana Hazir Imam's helicopter arrived at 11 15am and Moulla himself entered the darbar hall at 11 35am. The sun was shining brightly, the sky was azulian blue and th gathering was quiet and disciplined. As Mawlana Hazir Imam walked down the runners the chants of salwat echoed around, right upto His arrival on stage. We bowed down with gratitude as this was a place we could only dream of ever being given, with our loving Moulla sitting only metres away from us. So close were we that we could hear every word being spoken on stage by Moulla and by Mukhisaheb, and we could see every ecpression on our Moulla's countenenance. After the recitation of the Holy Quran, its translations in both Tajik and English, the recitation of Qasida by little children, the council president's loyalty address both in tajik and English, our loving Moulla's irshad mubarak in English and its translation in Tajik, the offering of nazrana of knowledge and time and of a tambur (a sitar-like musical instrument), Moulla once again came to the mic and acknowledged the gift and gave blessings to all for the fulfillment of wishes and he then said that the beautiful sunshine that we have today should remain permanently in our hearts. Mawlana Hazir Imam then left the stage and once again wallked down the runners through the jamat. As He arrived at the exit, He stopped turned around and nodded at two ismailis who were on their knees waving at Moulla. Moulla once again nodded at them and put His hand to His heart. And then exited the mandap. I later on came to know the two ismailis, a lady and a gentleman, were from Kenya. Mawlana Hazir Imam motorcade then took Him to the back of the mandap to the edge of the river. Mowla exited the car and waved at the Afghan ismailis who had assembled across the river. This brought to mind a sentence from the beginning of Mawlana Hazir Imam's irshad mubarak in which He said, "The love of the Imam for His murids knows no physical boundaries, no mountain, no river, no desert can stop the Imam's love from reaching His murid". Alhamdulliah!! I have never heard such a touching description before of Mawlana Hazir Imam's love for His murids. Moulla then took off for Khorog and as His helicopted ascended we could see Moulla's hand still waving at the crowd. Thereafter our kind host drove us back to Khorog to his brother's house. After a simple repast we were given gifts of colourful Pamir topis and socks. Then he found for us a ride back to Dushanbe in an AKDN vehicle that was going back to pick a canadian professor who was arriving at the airport the next day. We thanked our hosts for the wonderful hospitality and wished them a wonderful deedar the next day in Porshinev. We left with heavy hearts because we could not attend the darbar there the next day as we had a flight to Sharjah which operates only once a week. All the way to Dushanbe we were feeling sad and prayed for forgiveness to Moulla for missing the second darbar. Just as we reached Dushanbe Hotel at 3pm on 5th November we heard loud sirens and whistles on the street. Something made us abandon our bags on the sidewalk and rush to the edge of the curb opposite the construction site of Serena Hotel. One minute later our loving Moulla motorcade passed. We started jumping up and down excitedly, we were so amazed that we almost went on the road. Mawlana Hazir Imam's car slowed down, He put His window down and then He leaned out and waved and smiled at each and every one of us! MY GOD! What a treat!!!! All the sadness evaporated from our hearts. We went dancing and singing into the lobby of our hotel. All passers-by were staring at us but we could not just not contain ourselves. The AKDN driver and his colleague were so amazed, they congratulated us warmly and expressed what a miracle this was. They knew about our sadness on the way and were now very happy for us. We then left Dushanbe later that evening, our hears singing with joy and happiness and basking in the love Moulla showed us throughout this enchanting visit. We have never seen Him put down His window, lean out and wave from His car. And this touching gesture of His has boosted our faith and made it even stronger.
I would be failing in my duty if I did not thank AKDN for organising such a wonderful reception for us in the executive lounge at the airport upon our arrival in Dushanbe. I would also like to express my admiration for the people of Khorog for the way in which they welcomed Moulla to Khorog by having girls shower the red carpet with petals of flowers. Once again, thanks to all Tajik ismailis for their wonderful hospitality and big and generous hearts. Above all, thanks to our most loving Mawlana Hazir Imam who made all this possible. SHUKRAN LILLAH WAL HAMDULILLAH a countless times to our most loving, most beloved Moulla!!!
malik.merchant
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Post by malik.merchant »

Indigo,

Thank you for such a wonderful account of the Didar in Tajikistan.

I hope your account gets widely distributed . It is truly inspiring.

Malik Merchant
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Post by Admin »

As Received

dear all
mubaraki mubaraki mubaraki
it is still freezing cold hazer imam did come. Thousands of murids gethered on both sides of the road in cold from 5 am in the morning with children and aged, almost ten people depth.

Hazer Imam arrived at 10 am at the site looked extremy happy. Farouk and Hadi Khan took him round and his mind was outside on the road where murids were chanting salwats so louldly that we thought the clouds will fall down ! as i said imam turned around and said MY POOR JAMAT !
this happened 3 times

on his way out hadi khan mentioned all this staff work extra hard, again he kept on smiling looked at each one of us and said yes it shows in the work ! inshallah i will be back to open it in march ! so you see we will have to work extra eextra hard to fulfil his desire of all the didars i think this was out of the world ! he kept on looking in the eyes all the time
was thinking about all of you shukhar !

your tasbis must be very very powerful thank you

love ali
sanjana
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Joined: Sun Nov 09, 2008 5:41 am

YAM

Post by sanjana »

Thanks a lot for every one for such a beautifull stories and information that till now you were posting here. That will be very great of you if you will post more stories here about Tajikistan darbar, so that we, who are far away from TAjikistan and could not attand the Darbar there, would know how was the Didar with our beloved Imam. Thanks

Love and regards
Sanjana
kmaherali
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Post by kmaherali »

Updates from theismaili.org

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Mawlana Hazar Imam, Prime Minister Chudinov and other UCA and government officials receive a warm welcome from students at the University’s town campus in Naryn. Photo: Gary Otte

This morning, Mawlana Hazar Imam met with the Kyrgyz Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ednan Karabaev. Following their meeting, Mawlana Hazar Imam travelled to Manas International Airport where he was joined by Prime Minister Igor Chudinov. The Prime Minister then accompanied Hazar Imam on a flight to Naryn, the town in which the Kyrgyz campus of the University of Central Asia (UCA) is situated.

In the shadow of the Tian Shan mountain peaks overlooking Naryn, Kyrgyz horsemen galloped across the runway, as the aircraft carrying Mawlana Hazar Imam and Prime Minister Chudinov touched down. The Governor of Naryn Oblast, Omurbek Suvanaliev and the Mayor of Naryn, Almaz Kulmatov were on hand to welcome them.

Hundreds of students of UCA's School of Professional and Continuing Education (SPCE) waved Kyrgyz and Ismaili flags, as the dignitaries strode across the green that the University has gifted to the town. After reviewing the construction site of the town campus building, Mawlana Hazar Imam and the Prime Minister met teachers and students of the SPCE's English in the Villages Programme.

Following lunch, architects, UCA management staff and civic officials accompanied the Prime Minister and Mawlana Hazar Imam to viewing points along the proposed main campus site overlooking a dramatic rock face across the Naryn River.

Later in the day, Mawlana Hazar Imam returned to Bishkek, where he called on the Speaker of Kyrgyz Parliament, Aitibay Tagayev, at the Parliament building.

Additional photos are available in the Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan galleries. Further details on Mawlana Hazar Imam’s visit to Central Asia will continue to be posted at TheIsmaili.org.

http://www.theismaili.org/?id=563

Friday, 7 November 2008

The AKDN Resident Representative in the Kyrgyz Republic, Nurjehan Mawani, bids farewell to Mawlana Hazar Imam at Manas International Airport. Photo: Gary Otte

On the final day of his visit to the Kyrgyz Republic, Mawlana Hazar Imam undertook a busy agenda of activities prior to his mid-morning departure.

Hazar Imam reviewed full-scale models of the facilities that will make up the three future campuses of the University of Central Asia. The models included replicas of undergraduate and graduate dormitory rooms, faculty offices and classrooms.

Afterwards, Mawlana Hazar Imam met with the Mayor of Bishkek, Nariman Tuleyev. Their meeting was held in a yurt — a dwelling structure that was traditionally used by nomadic peoples in the steppes of Central Asia.

At Manas International Airport, as Mawlana Hazar Imam prepared to depart Kyrgyzstan, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ednan Karabaev and AKDN leaders were present to bid him farewell. Hazar Imam’s departure from the country marked the end of his Golden Jubilee visit to Central Asia.

Additional photos are available in the Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan galleries. Further details on Mawlana Hazar Imam’s visit to Central Asia will continue to be posted at TheIsmaili.org.
kmaherali
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Post by kmaherali »

Amongst the group we were with was a guy who had come from Canada who had met and married a local Pamiri. Their story was fascinating, as he described how he had bumped into her multiple times while he was visiting the region for work-related reasons. As interesting as the story was, though, what was even more fascinating was the wife’s story of her experience preparing for a visit of the Aga Khan in October 2008 and the instances of perseverance and hilarity that ensued therein. (Pamiris are predominantly Nizari Ismaili Muslims, who see Aga Khan IV as their spiritual guide.) Her stories, combined with that of many others, show a degree of love and devotion that one scarcely hears.

For the sake of time, I will try my best to briefly convey two such stories I have heard while here:

Originally, the Aga Khan was suppose to visit both Dushanbe and Khorog, though for some reason, the first visit did not pan out. For the thousands of Pamiri Ismailis living in Khorog, this was obviously an incredible disappointment. But, seeing as how a fair number of them had relatives or immediate family in Khorog (and seeing as how Khorog is generally a VERY accommodating place anyways), many of those who were able to afford to headed to Khorog via rented vehicles. And so it goes that one Pamiri went to speak with her professor to inform her that she was “feeling sick” so that she could get an excused absence from class. Upon relaying the ailment to the professor, he calmly informed her that for some odd reason, many of his Pamiri students had fallen ill and not to worry, as he was sure that a trip to GBAO for a few days to see the Aga Khan would certainly make her feel better…

Another story that had been relayed to me described a series of coincidences and awe-inspiring moments. Upon finding out of the visit being canceled in Dushanbe, one couple I spoke with was particularly saddened; on account of their jobs, they would be unable to take the time out to visit Ishkashim, the location of the Darbar visit (close to Khorog). Luckily, though, both of them were able to take leave from their offices due to a streak of luck. Unluckily, they could not find a car to take them to Khorog (since the drive requires a 4x4 across the rocky terrain). This changed just a couple of days before the visit would happen in Khorog, and they were able to hitch a (overcrowded) ride with an acquaintance. After roughing out a bumpy and dangerous 16+ hour journey, they arrived in Khorog and immediately began heading to the site of the visit in Ishkashim (running on very little sleep). Seeing as how all of the vehicles in the village had already been booked, they began this considerable journey on foot. I should mention here that GBAO in October is no joke; being in the mountains, the area gets very cold, very fast at night...so you can imagine the difficulty in trekking the terrain during this time. After travelling for multiple hours by foot, the couple, accompanied by extended family, reached the site of the visit at pitch-dark nightfall, where they would spend the next couple of hours waiting for the much anticipated visit. Taking turns sharing a single blanket amongst a large number of family members, they waited in anticipation throughout the night. Before long, they heard and saw a chopper crossing the horizon that was bringing the Aga Khan to the site. And as the chopper approached, it seemed to bring with it the sun, yawning awake as it parted the clouds and shooed away the darkness. With the sun shinning overhead and the cold slowly receding, the Pamiris waited in anticipation as the heli slowly came to land and the Aga Khan prepared to deliver his guidance after a far-too-long 10 years...

Forgiving my relatively poor retelling of those stories, there were many other such stories (running the gamut from emotional to hilarious) describing hardships to get to the location of the visit and the pursuant contentment that resulted from the visit (and the message/guidance associated with the visit). I hope to hear more of these stories in the coming weeks.

http://bigzabroad.blogspot.com/2009/09/ ... ekend.html
Rowonsadbarg
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Post by Rowonsadbarg »

With Mawla's grace I was very lucky that my annual leave from work coincided with Deedar time in Khorog and I planned to go home, to Badakhshan, with my wife and son for Deedar. When there we heard that Deedar in Dushanbe was cancelled, we were all saddened for those who were looking forward for it and could not make it to travel to the Pamir.
In few days after Deedar we came back to Dushanbe and got their by midnight. We got off the Pamir-Dushanbe taxi and took another taxi to drop us home. The Sunni taxi driver was telling us about how recently most of the Pamiries left Dushanbe. ‘The Dushanbe-Pamir taxi prices went up in times, but people still went” he said. “May be this is for the humanitarian aid Agha Khan gave them after the War…. (?)” he was wondering.
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TAJIKISTAN: Ismaili religious leader jailed, prayer houses closed

Post by Admin »

https://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2782

17 October 2022
Mushfig Bayram

TAJIKISTAN: Ismaili religious leader jailed, prayer houses closed

On 3 August, 8 days after the NSC secret police arrested Muzaffar Davlatmirov, a respected 58-year-old Ismaili religious leader, Badakhshan Regional Court jailed him for 5 years for alleged "public calls for extremist activity". "Davlatmirov is not an extremist, and did not call for 'extremist' activity," a local person who knows him told Forum 18. His relatives and friends do not know where he is serving his sentence. There are now at least 7 prisoners of conscience known to be jailed for exercising freedom of religion or belief, one a Jehovah's Witness and the others Muslim. The regime has also closed all Ismaili prayer houses in Mountainous Badakhshan, and the Ismaili Education Centre in Khorugh.
On 26 July the NSC secret police arrested Muzaffar Davlatmirov, a 58-year-old Ismaili religious leader in Khorugh. Just eight days later, on 3 August, Badakhshan Regional Court handed him a five-year prison sentence under Criminal Code Article 307-1 ("Public calls for extremist activity"), Part 2 ("committed using the mass media or the internet"). The possible punishments are between five and 10 years jail. This article has been used by the regime to target a variety of Muslims.

Muzaffar Davlatmirov
Social media/RFE/RL
"That Davlatmirov was arrested on 26 July and in early August given a prison sentence shows that the Court is a theatre," Independent journalist Anora Sarkorova commented to Forum 18 on 7 October. "The order came from the central authorities, and the Court had to sentence him quickly," she noted (see below).

Khorugh is the capital of the Mountainous Badakhshan Autonomous Region (also known from Russian as Gorno-Badakhshan). The region has seen increasing repression by the regime since a local resident was in November 2021 killed by security forces. As Bruce Pannier has observed on bne IntelliNews, the region has a history of independence from the regime and the Ismaili Aga Khan Foundation has played a large role in the region's development (see below).

"Davlatmirov was widely known and respected by the local Ismaili people," independent journalist Sarkorova told Forum 18. She noted that he had criticised the regime's religious policies, and argued for the preservation of local Pamiri traditions. Davlatmirov also, she stated, criticised the regime's violent suppression in May of peaceful protests (see below). The suppression of protest is claimed by the regime to be an "anti-terrorism operation."

Independent journalist Sarkarova commented that the regime did not like the fact that Davlatmirov was respected in the region, and that he could influence people. She thought it was possible that prisoner of conscience Davlatmirov was jailed because he said the janaza (funeral) prayers at the funeral in May of three local informal leaders killed during the regime's violent suppression of peaceful protests.

Mountainous Badakhshan regional government spokesperson Gholib Niyatbekov refused to comment when Forum 18 noted that prisoner of conscience Davlatmirov did not violate the law by praying at funerals.

Police Major Azamat Oshurmamadov, who commands "anti-terrorism" police operations in the region, Regional government spokesperson Niyatbekov, Judge Abdukhanon Nazarzoda of Badakhshan Regional Court, and a Supreme Court official who refused to give his name all refused to state what exactly Davlatmirov did that led to the five-year jail term (see below).

"Davlatmirov is not an extremist, and did not call for 'extremist' activity," a local person who knows him and wished to remain anonymous for fear of state reprisals told Forum 18. Prisoner of conscience Davlatmirov's relatives and friends do not know where he is serving his prison sentence, violating Rule 68 of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (known as the Mandela Rules – A/C.3/70/L.3) (see below).

With the jailing of prisoner of conscience Davlatmirov, there are now at least seven prisoners of conscience jailed for exercising freedom of religion or belief. One is a Jehovah's Witness, and the other known prisoners of conscience (including Davlatmirov) jailed for exercising freedom of religion or belief are Muslim (see below).

As the regime violently suppressed peaceful protests in Mountainous Badakhshan in May, it also closed down all Ismaili prayer houses in the region and the Ismaili Education Centre (opened in 2018) in Khorugh.

The Ismaili branch of Shia Islam in Tajikistan is mainly found in Mountainous Badakhshan in south-eastern Tajikistan. Worldwide, the community is led by the Aga Khan. Ismaili centres are very important for the community, fulfilling a wide range of spiritual, educational, and cultural purposes (see below).

No official notification or reason given – including from the State Committee for Religious Affairs and Regulation of Traditions, Ceremonies and Rituals (SCRA) - for the closures or how long they will last. However the SCRA has announced that a group of "experts" will decide this. SCRA officials and a Supreme Court official who refused to give his name all refused to discuss the closures with Forum 18.

Regional government spokesperson Niyatbekov insisted to Forum 18 that no Ismaili prayer houses were closed, and the Education Centre in Khorugh was also not closed. "You have totally wrong information," he claimed, "Ismailis attend the prayer house [in Khorugh] day and night. It is always open". Both mosques and Protestant churches have been forcibly closed by the regime (see below).

It is unclear exactly whether the regime has any specific reason for increasingly targeting companies and organisations linked with the Aga Khan, or whether this is part of the regime's overall increasing repression within Mountainous Badakhshan. It is possible that the regime's hostility stems from its suspicion that Ismailis respect the Aga Khan more than Emomali Rahmon, who has ruled the country since 1992 without facing a free and fair election (see below).

The regime has also been continuing to implement its existing restrictions on Muslims exercising their freedom of religion or belief, as well as continuing to insist that non-Muslim communities provide detailed and intrusive information to the SCRA (see forthcoming F18News article).

Ismaili Muslim religious leader jailed for five years
The National Security Committee (NSC) secret police arrested Muzaffar Davlatmirov, a 58-year-old Ismaili religious leader in Khorugh, on 26 July.

Badakhshan Regional Court convicted him on 3 August, giving him a five-year general regime prison sentence under Criminal Code Article 307-1 ("Public calls for extremist activity"), Part 2 ("committed using the mass media or the internet"). The possible punishments are between five and 10 years jail.

"That Davlatmirov was arrested on 26 July and in early August given a prison sentence shows that the Court is a theatre," Independent journalist Anora Sarkorova commented to Forum 18 on 7 October. "The order came from the central authorities, and the Court had to sentence him quickly," she noted.

Swift trials in such circumstances are "a normal course of action in today's Tajikistan," Muhammadiqbol Sadriddin of the exiled isloh.net news website told Forum 18 the same day.

Khorugh is the capital of the Mountainous Badakhshan Autonomous Region (also known from Russian as Gorno-Badakhshan). The region has seen increasing repression by the regime since security forces killed a local resident in November 2021. As Bruce Pannier has observed on bne IntelliNews, the region has a history of independence from the regime and the Ismaili Aga Khan Foundation has played a large role in the region's development.

Davlatmirov "widely known and respected by the local Ismaili people"
"Davlatmirov was widely known and respected by the local Ismaili people," independent journalist Sarkorova told Forum 18. She noted that he had criticised the regime's religious policies, and argued for the preservation of local Pamiri traditions. Davlatmirov also, she stated, criticised the regime's violent suppression in May of peaceful protests.

The regime claimed the suppression of protest to be an "anti-terrorism operation".

Independent journalist Sarkarova commented that the regime did not like the fact that Davlatmirov was respected in the region, and that he could influence people. She thought it was possible that prisoner of conscience Davlatmirov was jailed because he said the janaza (funeral) prayers at the funeral in May of three local informal leaders killed during the regime's violent suppression of peaceful protests.

Mountainous Badakhshan regional government spokesperson Gholib Niyatbekov claimed to Forum 18 on 7 October: "Davlatmirov is not respected by local people because he violated the law." When Forum 18 noted that prisoner of conscience Davlatmirov did not violate the law by praying at funerals, Niyatbekov then claimed he cannot comment on this.

Now at least 7 prisoners of conscience jailed for exercising freedom of religion or belief
With the jailing of prisoner of conscience Davlatmirov, there are now at least seven prisoners of conscience jailed for exercising freedom of religion or belief. One is a Jehovah's Witness, and the other known prisoners of conscience (including Davlatmirov) jailed for exercising freedom of religion or belief are Muslim.

Why was Davlatmirov jailed?
Police Major Azamat Oshurmamadov, who commands "anti-terrorism" police operations in the region, refused to tell Forum 18 on 11 October what exactly Davlatmirov did that led to his jailing. "I do not know of such a person or his arrest," he claimed. When Forum 18 pointed out that Major Oshmuramadov's colleagues in the regional government and judiciary know who Davlatmirov is and that he had been jailed, Oshurmamadov put the phone down. He did not answer his phone again that day.

Khayriddin Dostakov
Courtesy photo/RFE/RL
Regional government spokesperson Niyatbekov also refused to state what exactly Davlatmirov did that led to the five-year jail term.

The regional Prosecutor's Office did not answer their phones between 7 and 11 October.

Criminal Code Article 307-1 ("Public calls for extremist activity") has been used to target among others:

- 36-year-old Muslim Khayriddin Dostakov after having been arrested on 29 December 2019 and tortured. Officials alleged he spread "extremist ideas", and questioned him about whether he had become a Shia Muslim or spread Shia beliefs. He was released on 25 August 2020 after finding no evidence of "extremism" and closed the criminal case against him;

- to unsuccessfully try in September 2018 to extradite former professional footballer Parviz Tursunov from Belarus. "We think that the authorities were angry that he stood for his religious beliefs and left his professional career," Tursunov's relatives told Forum 18. "He left the country protesting at the ban on beards. He wanted to freely practice his religious beliefs, one of which is that every Muslim man should have a beard. We think that the authorities are worried that, as he is well-known as a former professional footballer, other Tajik men may be inspired to follow his example";

- and to prosecute allegedly Salafi Muslims. The then SCRA Deputy Head Mavlon Mukhtarov claimed to Forum 18 that Salafis are "extremist" because they "attend Tajik Sunni mosques and pray differently, and they also argue with Mosque attendees about the teachings of Islam". No provision of the law bans praying differently.

"Davlatmirov is not an extremist"
Supreme Court, Dushanbe
Radioi Ozodi (RFE/RL)
"Davlatmirov is not an extremist, and did not call for 'extremist' activity," a local person who knows him and wished to remain anonymous for fear of state reprisals told Forum 18 on 5 October. They noted that the family, who they also know, do not accept that there is any justification for prisoner of conscience Davlatmirov's five-year jail term.

Other local people close to the family told Radio Free Europe (RFE) on 4 August that "we do not know the real reasons for his imprisonment. The authorities do not have any evidence of his guilt. In his public sermons he called people to peace."

Judge Abdukhanon Nazarzoda, Chair of Badakhshan Regional Court, on 5 October refused to explain to Forum 18 why his court jailed prisoner of conscience Davlatmirov. "I do not remember," Nazarzoda claimed, "the Court has had so many cases recently that I cannot remember all the details." He also refused to explain why Davlatmirov was arrested on 26 July and swiftly jailed on 4 August, referring questions to the Supreme Court as "we refer all information about cases we try to the Supreme Court".

A Supreme Court official, who refused to give his name, refused to discuss Davlatmirov's case with Forum 18 on 10 October, as did Gulnora Rasulzoda who is head of the department overseeing complaints. Forum 18 the same day also wrote to Supreme Court Chair Shermuhammad Shohiyon, asking what evidence-based legal grounds there are to jail prisoner of conscience Davlatmirov. Forum 18 received no reply by the end of the working day in Dushanbe on 17 October.

Where is prisoner of conscience Davlatmirov?
Prisoner of conscience Davlatmirov's relatives and friends do not know where he is serving his prison sentence. This violates Rule 68 of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (known as the Mandela Rules – A/C.3/70/L.3), which states in part: "Every prisoner shall have the right, and shall be given the ability and means, to inform immediately his or her family, or any other person designated as a contact person, about his or her imprisonment, about his or her transfer to another institution and about any serious illness or injury."

Judge Nazarzoda of Badakhshan Regional Court refused to say where Davlatmirov is being held, or whether the Mandela Rules are being observed in full.

Regime officials have repeatedly denied having heard of the Mandela Rules, despite the UN Human Rights Committee and the UN Committee against Torture having both called for Tajikistan to implement the Mandela Rules.

All Ismaili prayer houses and Education Centre closed in Mountainous Badakhshan
Ismaili Centre, Dushanbe
RFE/RL
As the regime violently suppressed peaceful protests in Mountainous Badakhshan in May, it also closed down all Ismaili prayer houses in the region and the Ismaili Education Centre (opened in 2018) in Khorugh.

The Ismaili branch of Shia Islam in Tajikistan is mainly found in Mountainous Badakhshan in south-eastern Tajikistan, and are worldwide led by the Aga Khan, a direct descendent of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Ismaili centres are very important for the community, fulfilling a wide range of spiritual, educational, and cultural purposes.

The Aga Khan Foundation in the capital Dushanbe told Forum 18 on 20 September that prayer houses in the region have been "unofficially closed" since May, but they have been given no official notification or reason given – including from the State Committee for Religious Affairs and Regulation of Traditions, Ceremonies and Rituals (SCRA) - for the closures or how long they will last.

However, Ismaili education centres in Khujand in the northern Sugd Region, and in the capital Dushanbe remain open.

An unnamed SCRA official told Radio Free Europe (RFE) on 6 September that SCRA "experts" were examining the activity of the prayer houses. "Depending on the expert analysis of the group a decision will be made," the official claimed. The official did not say when the "expert analysis" would be given.

SCRA Deputy Chair Farrukhullo Olimzoda, Deputy Head Khuseyn Shokirov, and the Deputy Head of the section responsible for work with religious communities Saidakhmad Saidjafarov all refused to discuss the closures with Forum 18 between 30 September and 3 October. Other officials, including SCRA Chair Sulaymon Davlatzoda, did not answer their phones when called.

A Supreme Court official who refused to give his name refused to discuss the closures with Forum 18 on 10 October, as did Gulnora Rasulzoda who is head of the department overseeing complaints. Forum 18 the same day also wrote to Supreme Court Chair Shermuhammad Shohiyon, asking what evidence-based legal grounds there are to close the Ismaili prayer houses and Education Centre. No reply has yet been received.

Regional government spokesperson Niyatbekov insisted to Forum 18 that no Ismaili prayer houses were closed, and the Education Centre in Khorugh was also not closed. "You have totally wrong information," he claimed, "Ismailis attend the prayer house [in Khorugh] day and night. It is always open."

The regime has forcibly closed both mosques and Protestant churches. In the case of mosque closures, regime officials are apparently proud of the closures, and have claimed that the closures happened at the request of mosque congregations. Local Muslims have strongly rejected this claim.

Protestant churches have been closed either because of alleged problems with their charter, because of allegedly "extremist activity", or because they wish to use the building for other purposes. Local Protestants have rejected all these claims. One regime official claimed to Forum 18 after a group of Protestant churches were forcibly closed: "All religions are free in Tajikistan and the state does not interfere in their activity".

Why?
It is unclear exactly whether the regime has any specific reason for increasingly targeting companies and organisations linked with the Aga Khan, or whether this is part of the regime's overall increasing repression within Mountainous Badakhshan.

Between 13 and 14 August the National Security Committee (NSC) secret police questioned Sharofat Mamadambarova, the President of the Ismaili Council of Tajikistan. Mamadambarova told RFE on 18 August that the NSC questioned her about Aga Khan Foundation contracts, and whether she knew anyone detained by the regime during peaceful protests.

It is possible that the regime's hostility stems from its suspicion that Ismailis respect the Aga Khan more than Emomali Rahmon, who has ruled the country since 1992 without facing a free and fair election. Regime officials formally refer to Rahmon as the "Founder of Peace and National Unity, Leader of the Nation".

In 2019 the SCRA wrote to the Aga Khan Foundation and the Ismaili Education Centre in Dushanbe, stating: "We are concerned that colourful posters of Aga Khan around the buildings of prayer houses with slogans such as 'Welcome Our Imam', 'Happy Diamond Anniversary', 'We Love Our Imam' can be interpreted as a preference for the [Shia Muslim] Ismaili faith over the [state-controlled] Sunni faith, and for the Aga Khan over the Leader of the Nation [Emomali Rahmon]."

The regime has also been continuing to implement its existing restrictions on Muslims exercising their freedom of religion or belief, as well as continuing to insist that non-Muslim communities provide detailed and intrusive information to the SCRA (see forthcoming F18News article). (END)
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Re: TAJIKISTAN & Central Asia Visit NEWS, EVENT and TESTIMO

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https://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2811

TAJIKISTAN: Regime bans Ismaili home prayers, lessons for children
21 February 2023
Felix Corley, Forum 18



At least two Ismaili home owners in Mountainous Badakhshan were fined one month's average wage each for hosting prayer meetings in their homes. The regime banned such meetings in late 2022. Officials told elders on 14 January in Khorugh not to allow prayers in homes, that local people must remove portraits of Ismaili spiritual leader the Aga Khan, and that study at the London-based Institute of Ismaili Studies is no longer allowed. The regime also banned voluntary lessons for children based on a course from the Aga Khan Foundation.
Local administrations in the Mountainous Badakhshan Region in south-eastern Tajikistan have issued at least two summary fines on Ismaili Muslims in 2023 to punish hosting prayers in homes. The home owners were fined about one month's average wage each. Officials banned Ismaili prayers in homes in late 2022 as the regime violently suppressed peaceful protests in the region.

Prayer room at Ismaili Centre, Khorugh
the.Ismaili
Officials told village elders at a 14 January 2023 meeting in the regional capital Khorugh not to allow prayers in homes and warned that those who take part would be fined. The elders were instructed to pass on this message to local people (see below).

"People met outside the elders' homes to hear the news and many were crying," an Ismaili told Forum 18. "But people are too afraid to protest. They can only pray at home on their own." Older people said it was too difficult for them to reach the only place in Mountainous Badakhshan where Ismailis can still meet for worship – their centre in Khorugh (see below).

The Ismaili branch of Shia Islam in Tajikistan is mainly found in Mountainous Badakhshan, and the community worldwide is led by the Aga Khan, a direct descendent of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

Ismaili Muslims meet for worship in centres (which also host educational and cultural events), prayer houses, or private homes. The two Ismaili centres in Tajikistan - in Khorugh and in Tajikistan's capital Dushanbe – remain open, but only for prayers. Officials have banned the centres from conducting any educational or cultural activities (see below).

At the January meeting, officials also insisted that local people must remove portraits of the Ismaili spiritual leader, the Aga Khan, which hang in places of honour in homes. Officials had earlier complained of such portraits in the centre in Dushanbe. The Aga Khan has not been allowed to visit Tajikistan since 2012 – the regime rejected his attempt to visit in 2017 during his Diamond Jubilee visits to Ismaili communities in more than 10 countries (see below).

Officials also said that young Ismailis would no longer be allowed to travel to Britain for education at the Institute of Ismaili Studies. The regime has long tried to prevent people of any faith from travelling abroad for religious education (see below).

In late January 2023, the authorities in Mountainous Badakhshan Region banned voluntary lessons for secondary-school age children based on a course book published by the Aga Khan Foundation. The secret police have begun seizing copies of the Tajik-language set of course books, "Ethics and Knowledge" (see below).

The spokesperson for the Education and Science Ministry in Dushanbe told Forum 18 it had "no information" about any ban in Mountainous Badakhshan on the Ethics and Knowledge course. "We have not banned anything," he insisted (see below).

Officials at the Mountainous Badakhshan Administration put the phone down as soon as Forum 18 introduced itself (see below).

No officials of the regime's State Committee for Religious Affairs and Regulation of Traditions, Ceremonies and Rituals (SCRA) would discuss anything with Forum 18. An official of the regime's Human Rights Ombudsperson's Office in Dushanbe said two of its officials were away on a work trip. The telephone of the Ombudsperson's Office representative in Khorugh went unanswered (see below).

On 3 August 2022, 8 days after the NSC secret police arrested Muzaffar Davlatmirov, a 59-year-old Ismaili religious leader, Badakhshan Regional Court jailed him for 5 years for alleged "public calls for extremist activity". "Davlatmirov is not an extremist, and did not call for 'extremist' activity," a local person who knows him told Forum 18. Prisoner of conscience Davlatmirov is serving his sentence at the Labour Camp YaS 3/6 in Yavan in the south-western Khatlon Region (see forthcoming F18News article).

The Mountainous Badakhshan Autonomous Region (also known from Russian as Gorno-Badakhshan) has seen increasing repression by the regime since its forces killed a local resident in November 2021. As Bruce Pannier has observed on bne IntelliNews, the region has a history of independence from the regime and the Ismaili Aga Khan Foundation has played a large role in the region's development.

Meanwhile, Jehovah's Witness prisoner of conscience Shamil Khakimov has again been denied urgently needed medical treatment in a specialised hospital. On 15 February, Sugd Regional Court rejected the latest appeal from the 72-year-old prisoner of conscience to be transferred from Strict Regime Prison YaS 3/5 to a hospital. The repeated denial of medical treatment is against multiple statements by the UN Human Rights Committee, and the United Nations (UN) Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (known as the Mandela Rules). Khakimov is due for release on 16 May 2023, but there are fears he may die before then. He is among at least 7 prisoners of conscience known to be jailed for exercising freedom of religion or belief, the others being Muslim (see forthcoming F18News article).

An Imam who was one of the founders of the banned Islamic Renaissance Party (IRP), Zubaydullo Rozik, was placed in the prison punishment cell for providing religious education to other prisoners, which is illegal in Tajik prisons (see forthcoming F18News article).

Stopping Ismailis gathering in homes for prayers
Ismaili Centre, Dushanbe
RFE/RL
The Ismaili branch of Shia Islam in Tajikistan is mainly found in Mountainous Badakhshan in south-eastern Tajikistan, and are worldwide led by the Aga Khan, a direct descendent of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Ismaili centres are very important for the community, fulfilling a wide range of spiritual, educational, and cultural purposes.

Ismaili Muslims meet for worship in centres (which also host educational and cultural events), prayer houses, or private homes. As the regime violently suppressed peaceful protests in Mountainous Badakhshan from May 2022 onwards, it also closed down all Ismaili prayer houses in the region and the Ismaili Education Centre (opened in 2018) in Khorugh.

The Aga Khan Foundation in the capital Dushanbe told Forum 18 in September 2022 that prayer houses in the region have been "unofficially closed" since May 2022, but they have been given no official notification or reason given – including from the State Committee for Religious Affairs and Regulation of Traditions, Ceremonies and Rituals (SCRA) - for the closures or how long they will last. However, Ismaili education centres in Khujand in the northern Sugd Region, and in the capital Dushanbe are now open for prayers only. The regime has banned both centres from conducting any educational or cultural activities, which are very important for Ismaili Muslims (see below).

SCRA Deputy Chair Farrukhullo Olimzoda, Deputy Chair Khuseyn Shokirov, the Deputy Head of the section responsible for work with religious communities Saidakhmad Saidjafarov, and a Supreme Court official all refused in September and October 2022 to discuss the closures with Forum 18. Forum 18 also wrote to Supreme Court Chair Shermuhammad Shohiyon, asking what evidence-based legal grounds there are to close the Ismaili prayer houses and Education Centre. Forum 18 received no reply by 21 February 2023.

Mountainous Badakhshan regional government spokesperson Gholib Niyatbekov claimed to Forum 18 in October 2022 that no Ismaili prayer houses were closed in the region, and that the Education Centre in Khorugh was also not closed in May. "You have totally wrong information," he claimed.

Warnings, fines follow regime ban on prayer meetings in homes
State Committee for Religious Affairs and Regulation of Traditions, Ceremonies and Rituals, Dushanbe, September 2022
Radioi Ozodi (RFE/RL)
Ismailis in villages in Mountainous Badakshan used to meet in larger homes by rotation for weekly prayers on Thursday evenings or in the daytime on Fridays. In some places prayer meetings were held in homes every day, people from the region told Forum 18.

However, in late 2022 the regime banned Ismaili prayers in homes in the region. "Following the ban, officials went from door to door and warned people," an Ismaili who asked not to be identified for fear of state reprisals told Forum 18 on 16 February 2023. "Grandparents cried, but the officials warned that anyone who complained would be imprisoned."

Regime officials told village elders at a 14 January 2023 meeting in the regional capital Khorugh not to allow prayers in homes and warned that those who take part would be fined. The elders were instructed to pass on this message to local people.

"People met outside the elders' homes to hear the news and many were crying," the Ismaili told Forum 18. "But people are too afraid to protest. They can only pray at home on their own." Older people said it was too difficult for them to reach the one place in Badakhshan where Ismailis can still meet for worship – their centre in Khorugh.

Local regime officials fined at least two Ismaili Muslims in 2023 to punish them for hosting Ismaili prayer meetings in their homes. Officials in Roshtkala fined one home owner 600 Somonis (about one month's local average wage for those in formal work) in January 2023, and another home owner in Rushon was fined in February, the Ismaili told Forum 18. It appears the fines were issued without any court hearing, the Ismaili added.

No one at the regime's State Committee for Religious Affairs and Regulation of Traditions, Ceremonies and Rituals (SCRA) would discuss anything with Forum 18 between 14 and 21 February. The men who answered the phones on 14 February of First Deputy Chair Amirbeg Begnazarov and of the head of the International Department Abdugaffor Yusufov put the phone down as soon as Forum 18 introduced itself. Subsequent calls to other SCRA officials went unanswered.

The man who answered the phone of Mountainous Badakhshan regional government spokesperson Gholib Niyatbekov on 13 February claimed to Forum 18 that it was a wrong number.

Officials at the Mountainous Badakshan Administration put the phone down as soon as Forum 18 introduced itself on 21 February. The telephone of the regional representation of the regime's Human Rights Ombudsperson's Office in Khorugh went unanswered the same day.

An official of the regime's Human Rights Ombudsperson's Office in the capital Dushanbe refused to discuss the ban on praying in homes in Mountainous Badakshan on 21 February. He said Mukim Ashurov (Head of its Civil and Political Rights Department) and Rachabmo Habibulozoda (Head of its Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Department) were both away on a work trip.

(The Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions accredits Tajikistan's Human Rights Ombudsperson's Office only with B status because of its failure to accord with the Paris Principles, which require such institutions to be independent of government.)

Regime bans Aga Khan portraits in homes
The Aga Khan (centre) in Khorugh, 10 October 2009
the.Ismaili
At the 14 January meeting in Khorugh, officials insisted to local elders that people must remove portraits of the Ismaili spiritual leader, the Aga Khan, which hang in places of honour in many homes. Elders were required to pass on such instructions to people in their communities. Officials instead handed out portraits of President Emomali Rahmon.

The regime's hostility to the Ismaili community possibly stems from its suspicion that Ismailis respect the Aga Khan more than Rahmon, who has ruled the country since 1992 without facing a free and fair election. Regime officials formally refer to Rahmon as the "Founder of Peace and National Unity, Leader of the Nation".

Regime officials had earlier complained of portraits of the Aga Khan in the Centre in Dushanbe. In 2019 the SCRA wrote to the Aga Khan Foundation and the Ismaili Education Centre in Dushanbe, stating: "We are concerned that colourful posters of Aga Khan around the buildings of prayer houses with slogans such as 'Welcome Our Imam', 'Happy Diamond Anniversary', 'We Love Our Imam' can be interpreted as a preference for the [Shia Muslim] Ismaili faith over the [state-controlled] Sunni faith, and for the Aga Khan over the Leader of the Nation [Emomali Rahmon]."

The Aga Khan first visited Badakhshan in May 1995 and tens of thousands of Ismailis travelled from all parts of Badakhshan to meet him. Many local Ismailis commemorate his first visit each 28 May. However, the regime has not allowed the Aga Khan to visit Tajikistan since April 2012. It rejected his attempt to visit in 2017 during his Diamond Jubilee tour of Ismaili communities which took him to more than 10 countries.

Regime bans studies at Ismaili Institute in London
At the 14 January 2023 meeting in Khorugh, officials also told the elders that young Ismailis would no longer be allowed to travel to Britain for education at the Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS) in London. For Ismaili Muslims worldwide the IIS is one of their most important educational institutions and libraries.

The regime has in recent years banned people of all beliefs from receiving religious education in Tajikistan and abroad.

Ismaili-based Ethics and Knowledge course banned from schools
Since the mid-2000s, teachers in Mountainous Badakhshan have taught an Ethics and Knowledge course tailored to Ismaili children. At first the classes were held in school on a voluntary basis after normal lessons had finished. The course used the Tajik-language books, "Ethics and Knowledge", produced by Ismaili organisations.

The books were published in Tajik and distributed with the verbal approval of the Education and Science Ministry.

The illustrated books – which are aimed at children from the age of 7 to 14 – cover contemporary ethics, and the history of Islam and the Ismaili community.

Officials banned the teaching of the Ismaili-based Ethics and Knowledge course in schools in early 2021. Officials held a meeting at Badakhshan Administration on 2 February 2021, led by the then head of the region Yodgor Fayzov.

"With the passage of time," the Badakhshan Administration noted the same day, "taking into account the prevalence of secular education in state educational institutions and the increase in the number of non-Ismaili children in schools of the region, especially in the city of Khorugh, lack of time, class hours and classrooms, and other religious problems of today's world, the teaching of this lesson has been temporarily suspended."

On 27 January 2021, an online petition had been launched protesting against the ban. It called for the state to give permission for lessons in the course to be conducted in Ismaili prayer houses in Badakhshan. It cited Article 8, Part 5 of the Religion Law, which states that religious education is allowed for children between the ages of 7 and 18 in non-school hours with the written permission of parents. However, this has not been a reality.

The petition also noted freedom of religion or belief guarantees in Tajikistan's Constitution, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities.

Ban on voluntary Ethics and Knowledge classes, books seized
However, teaching of the Ethics and Knowledge course continued beyond January 2021 in Mountainous Badakhshan outside the school curriculum, often in Ismaili prayer houses. This was done with only verbal permission, not written permission, exiled journalist Anora Sarkorova told Forum 18.

In late January 2023 officials halted teaching of the Ethics and Knowledge course in Mountainous Badakhshan, Sarkorova added. National Security Committee (NSC) secret police officers began seizing copies of "Ethics and Knowledge", with 5,000 being seized in the regional capital Khorugh in the first few days of the campaign. The NSC secret police has demanded that others who have copies of the book hand them in, Sarkorova noted.

In Khorugh, the NSC secret police has summoned teachers daily for interrogation and threatened them with criminal prosecution, Pamir Daily News noted on 8 February.

"These books are completely dedicated to the education of the individual in a contemporary spirit," one Khorugh teacher told Pamir Daily News, "but with the knowledge of religious and cultural values. There is in them no religious fanaticism which could be banned in law. Now we teachers, who taught children on a voluntary basis, are being accused of breaking the law. At this rate, not a single teacher will be left here."

Novruz, the spokesperson for the Education and Science Ministry in Dushanbe, insisted that his ministry had not banned such courses and has "no information" about any such ban. "The Education Ministry publishes textbooks and teachers teach from these textbooks," he told Forum 18 on 21 February. "We didn't ban anything."

The Ismaili Tariqahand Religious Education Board (ITREB), which worked with the Education and Science Ministry on the Ethics and Knowledge course, was reportedly closed down in early February, Pamir Daily News said.

Dushanbe bookshops reopen in 2023 – with less religious literature
Abdurakhmon Vahhobzoda, 3 February 2023
Radioi Ozodi (RFE/RL)
On 2 September 2022, the State Committee for Religious Affairs and Regulation of Traditions, Ceremonies and Rituals (SCRA) announced that it had in late August and early September closed all Islamic bookshops in Dushanbe as well as some publishers which printed Islamic literature. SCRA Deputy Chair Farrukhullo Olimzoda, Deputy Chair Khuseyn Shokirov, and the Deputy Head of the section responsible for work with religious communities Saidakhmad Saidjafarov all refused to discuss the closures with Forum 18.

SCRA Deputy Chair Abdurakhmon Vahhobzoda told journalists on 3 February 2023 that the Dushanbe religious bookshops had been closed five months earlier because of the illegal import and sale of religious books, their lack of an "expert" analysis from the SCRA, as well as alleged complaints from authors that the books had been pirated.

SCRA Chair Sulaymon Davlatzoda added that although the SCRA had given permission to some publishers to produce no more than 5,000 copies of a particular book, "in fact they published a lot more of them". (When the SCRA gives permission to publish or import a religious book, it specifies the number of copies for which it is giving permission.)

In early 2023 the regime allowed Islamic bookshops next to Dushanbe's Central Mosque to reopen, but with a restricted supply of religious books. "In bookshops the amount of religious literature has diminished, but now a wide range of namaz prayer mats and beads have appeared there," Radio Free Europe's Tajik Service noted on 3 February.

"We were allowed to reopen our shops," one of the shop owners told Radio Free Europe, "but the quantity of religious literature is sharply limited. Buyers are interested in the Holy Koran and other religious books, but when they find out that they are not on sale, they get upset and go home with empty hands." (END)

Full reports on freedom of thought, conscience and belief in Tajikistan

For more background, see Forum 18's Tajikistan religious freedom survey

Forum 18's compilation of Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) freedom of religion or belief commitments

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Tajikistan: Tensions Escalating in Autonomous Region 2023-05-18

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https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/05/18/taj ... ous-region

May 18, 2022 1:40PM EDT

Tajikistan: Tensions Escalating in Autonomous Region

Respect Rights to Freedom of Assembly, Media

(Berlin) – Tensions have been rising in an autonomous region of Tajikistan with several incidents of violence after protests over harassment of local people by Tajik authorities, Human Rights Watch said today.

On May 16, 2022, a local man, Zamir Nazrishoev, 29, was killed during protests in Khorog, the capital of the Gorno-Badakhshan autonomous region. The next day police reported that he and several other young men had organized an armed attack on police forces, wounding three officers, and was fatally shot during this attack. However, media reported witnesses claiming that Nazrishoev was killed with live ammunition in unclear circumstances. The Tajik government announced on May 18 that it was moving military forces into the region as part of an anti-terrorism operation. Media published unconfirmed reports of several civilians killed during the May 18 operation.

“The government of Tajikistan should strictly observe its obligations to respect and protect people’s rights to life, and freedom of assembly and the media in any military or law enforcement operations in Tajikistan’s autonomous region,” said Syinat Sultanalieva, Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The authorities should provide a platform for constructive dialogue with protesters, refrain from excessive use of force, and ensure that any detainees are guaranteed full due process.”

Protests in the region started on May 14, when a meeting of traditional “elders” was held in Khorog to discuss alleged harassment and persecution by Tajik authorities, which since 2012 has periodically escalated to violent stand-offs between the population and the military. At the conclusion of the meeting, the elders and protestors who had joined them demanded the resignation of the centrally appointed head of the region, Alisher Mirzonabot; the release of everyone arrested in connection with protests in November 2021; and an end to alleged blackmailing, harassment, and kidnapping abroad of people from the region for their alleged involvement in opposition activities.

On May 16, after the central government refused to consider these demands, the protesters announced open-ended protests in the region. However, on May 17, when Khorog residents attempted to reach the city’s central square, the police blocked them and dispersed them using teargas. On the same day, internet access in the region was cut off and has not been reinstated. Mobile communications are functioning at low bandwidth.

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Asia Plus, an independent media outlet in Tajikistan, announced on May 17 that it would no longer cover the events in Khorog. Asia Plus had earlier been formally warned by the Prosecutor General’s Office that it considered the outlet’s coverage of the November protests to be “one-sided” and that the outlet could be closed down.

Also on May 17, four journalists from the media outlets Radio Ozodi and Current Time were attacked after they interviewed a local activist and independent journalist, Ulfathonim Mamadshoeva, whom the police accuse of co-organizing the May 16 protests. The unidentified attackers stole the journalists’ equipment and mobile phones; and severely beat and threatened to kill one of them.

Tajik authorities should respect freedom of speech and access to information, including access to the internet and the right to peaceful protest. They should investigate the cause of violence in recent protests and hold those responsible to account. The country’s regional and international partners should also hold Tajikistan accountable to its human rights obligations.

“As this crisis unfolds it is crucial for the Tajik authorities to uphold their international human rights obligations and facilitate dialogue to secure a resolution based on respect for fundamental rights,” Sultanalieva said. “The police have obligations to exercise restraint in engaging with protesters, safeguarding everyone involved.”
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Re: TAJIKISTAN https://eurasianet.org/tajikistan-steps-up-nationalization-campaign-against-aga-khan-operation

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steps up nationalization campaign against Aga Khan operation
Schools, clinics and a hotel have been appropriated by the authorities.
Jul 5, 2023


Image
The Aga Khan Lycée has been particularly prized for providing education in English. (Photo: Aga Khan Lycée website)

The government of Tajikistan’s campaign against the operations of a charitable organization funded by the Agha Khan, the spiritual leader of the country’s Ismaili minority, has intensified over the past few weeks.

In the most recent development, the authorities have revoked the license of the Aga Khan Lycée in Khorog, the capital of the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region, or GBAO. A source at the Aga Khan Foundation told Eurasianet that June 30 was the last day that the secondary school would operate under its aegis.

The Aga Khan Development Network, the umbrella organization under which that foundation operates, has been providing assistance to Tajikistan in education and healthcare since the early years of independence. One major achievement has been the construction of the University of Central Asia in Khorog, where teaching is carried out in English.

Whenever the current Aga Khan visited Tajikistan between 1992 and 2011, tens of thousands of Ismailis, who hail primarily from the country’s Pamir highlands, flocked to see him in person. It is believed, however, that the clamor around the Aga Khan has incurred the displeasure of President Emomali Rahmon, upon whom a lavish personality cult has been built.

The Pamiris have been on the receiving end of a sustained campaign of repression from the authorities in Dushanbe. A security sweep dubbed an anti-terrorist operation in May 2022 led to the killing of dozens of community leaders. Hundreds more were imprisoned after secretive trials on grounds that they were purportedly plotting to cause political turmoil.

It was after that drama played out that the government began moving to dismantle paraphernalia related to the Aga Khan and, furthermore, appropriating assets belonging to his foundation.

According to Pamir Daily News, a Telegram channel that covers events in the Pamirs, the government has to date nationalized multiple educational initiatives run by the Aga Khan Education Service.

The upmarket Serena Hotel in Khorog and the premises of the First Microfinance Bank and the Mountain Societies Development Support Program, or MSDSP, have similarly been confiscated, according to reports. And the Prosecutor's Office in the GBAO has applied with the courts to nationalize the Aga Khan Medical Center in Khorog.

A source at a Aga Khan organization has told Eurasianet that these developments have led to the loss of around 300 jobs for local people in Khorog, where unemployment is rife.

The pressure has been applied in other forms too.

The Ismaili Centers in Khorog and Dushanbe, the capital, have been banned for holding events for the promotion of religious literacy.
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Central Asia: TAJIKISTAN’S PAMIRIS - Persecuted, disappeared and forgotten

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https://www.newagebd.net/article/207427 ... -forgotten

by Syinat Sultanalieva | Published: 00:00, Jul 21,2023

TAJIKISTAN’S PAMIRIS = Persecuted, disappeared and forgotten

Pamiris are increasingly fleeing Tajikistan, fearing for their lives. But they risk being returned by hostile states, writes Syinat Sultanalieva

IMAGINE being a member of a little-known, persecuted minority attempting to flee your homeland, where you are at risk of being locked up or even killed, when few outsiders know or even care who you are.

Such is the reality for members of Tajikistan’s Pamiri community, an ethnic minority who are culturally, religiously and linguistically different from Tajiks, the largest ethnic group in the country.

Pamiris were subjected to what has been described as ethnic cleansing by Tajik forces during the country’s civil war from 1990 to 1997, and have been persecuted by the authorities ever since.

But when the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination met in April to discuss Tajikistan’s compliance with the convention that seeks to end racial discrimination, the head of the Tajikistan delegation, justice minister Muzaffar Ashuriyon, denied the existence of Pamiris as a distinct ethnic minority.

A year earlier, in May 2022, the Tajik authorities violently suppressed a peaceful demonstration in Khorog, the capital of the remote and mountainous Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast, home of the Pamiris. The protesters were seeking justice for continued government harassment and abuse, which had intensified in the months leading up to the protests.

The following month, June, the authorities massively stepped up their persecution of the Pamiris, allegedly killing as many as 40 people and arresting hundreds more.

Pamiris are reportedly prohibited from speaking the Pamiri languages in public and from hosting prayer meetings in their homes. Scores of the region’s activists, journalists and lawyers are serving lengthy prison sentences, charged with extremism and conspiring against the state. At least 10 families in Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast have between two and 10 members behind bars in relation to protests between November 2021 and May 2022, according to Radio Ozodi, the Tajik branch of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Hundreds of NGOs in Tajikistan have been closed by court order or forced to liquidate, according to the country’s ministry of justice. Facilities in Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast belonging to the Aga Khan Foundation (the Aga Khan is the spiritual leader of the Pamiris), such as the medical centre and the Aga Khan Lyceum in Khorog, are being nationalised by the central government.

Growing numbers of Pamiris, especially young men, are fleeing the country for fear of being persecuted by the authorities. Some have crossed into neighbouring Russia, some into Turkey, while others have tried to reach the relative safety of the European Union or the US. Many have spent several months on the road, often suffering mistreatment, and few have found anything close to secure asylum.

There have been at least 20 cases of disappearances of Tajik citizens from Russia and Türkiye since 2006, according to exiled Tajik journalist Anora Sarkorova. Last year Sarkorova reported that dozens of Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast natives living in Russia had received orders from Tajikistani security agencies to return home to stand trial for serious crimes, and were threatened with deportation and harsh punishments if they did not voluntarily return.

‘We all want to go home’

TWO Pamiri asylum seekers — who are too fearful to reveal their real names or any identifying details — shared their stories with me.

The first is a Pamiri man who fled the country just as the Khorog protests were starting in May last year, after he was summoned for questioning by the police. He initially crossed into Russia but fled to Belarus when he learned that Russia was deporting Tajiks. Feeling equally unsafe there, he then tried to cross to Lithuania, an EU member state.

But the Lithuanian border guards beat him and used electric shock treatment on him, he said, before sending him back to Belarus, where he was beaten by the Belarusian guards.

The man finally managed to reach Germany, where he is now in temporary accommodation available to asylum seekers until their application for refugee status is determined. But he says he is ‘in hiding’, because he is afraid the Tajik authorities will try to extradite him.

‘We all want to go back home. My father and mother — both are retired — are there. Who would want to stay in countries where you are so unwelcome? If only I could go back without fear of repercussion,’ he told me.

The second Pamiri man I spoke with left Tajikistan for the US when his brother was arrested. They had both participated in the protests in Khorog and his brother was handed a lengthy prison sentence, with their mother also called in for questioning.

Later, their father died of a heart attack after visiting his son in prison. The family believes his death was due to the stress of their ongoing persecution by authorities. Their mother remains alone in Khorog, unable to make the long journey to visit her son in prison in Tajikistan’s capital, Dushanbe.

The man told me that the police ‘found comments supporting the May protests that [my brother] left on social media, [and] apprehended him. He was sentenced to ten years in prison very quickly.’

‘He did not recognise our father when he came to visit him,’ the man said, explaining that he believes his brother’s memory problems were the result of being badly tortured.

‘[My brother used to be] very healthy and athletic, never had problems with his eyesight, but he did not recognise him,’ he added. ‘When our father left the prison, he did not make it back home, [he] died from a heart attack,’ he added.

There has been some international criticism of the crackdown that followed the Khorog protests in 2022, including by the EU delegation in Tajikistan during the annual human rights dialogue in December 2022. But the ongoing harassment and persecution of Pamiris remains largely unaddressed by the country’s international trade partners.

Persuading the Tajikistan authorities to recognise the existence of the Pamiris, to stop the repression and to give them equal rights — this must be the fundamental long-term goal.

In the meantime, Russia and other neighbouring countries must be open to supporting those who are fleeing Tajikistan to escape harassment and discrimination. EU members, as well as countries as far away as the US, can also recognise this minority by providing asylum to those no longer able to live in their homeland without fear of persecution.

OpenDemocracy.net, July 18. Syinat Sultanalieva is Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch.
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Amid Crackdown In Restive Region, Tajikistan Targets Properties Linked To Aga Khan

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Officials in Tajikistan have taken over several major properties, including a hotel, a lycee, and a city park that are linked to the influential spiritual leader Aga Khan in the country's restive Gorno-Badakhshan region.

Prosecutors this month sought to appropriate a land plot in the provincial capital, Khorugh, where a Central Asia University campus funded by the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) is located. The land was purchased by the AKDN in the late 1990s, but officials now say the sales were illegal.

The AKDN is a private development agency funded by the Aga Khan, the imam of the Ismaili Shi'ite community. The majority of Gorno-Badakhshan's some 250,000 people identify as Ismailis.

The nationalization of the AKDN properties in Gorno-Badakhshan comes amid a crackdown in the remote, autonomous region that intensified in the wake of anti-government protests there in May 2022.

According to Tajik authorities, at least 10 people were killed, and 27 others were injured on both sides during clashes between protesters and security forces. Local activists, however, say security forces killed more than 50 people, ranging from unofficial local leaders to ordinary protesters.

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The land for the Central Asia University campus in Khorugh was purchased by the AKDN in the late 1990s, but officials now say the sales were illegal.

Dozens of people in Gorno-Badakhshan -- including activists, journalists, and community leaders -- have since been arrested in connection with the protests, with many receiving lengthy prison sentences.

Soon after the protests were dispersed by security forces, authorities nationalized a hotel -- the Khorug Serena Inn -- that was built by the AKDN in Khorugh's picturesque Tem area.

The government went on to nationalize a recreational park in Khorugh in August. The AKDN had reportedly invested about $4 million in the remaking of the park between 2004 and 2005.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, sources close to the matter in Khorugh said the Aga Khan Medical Center was to be targeted next. The $25 million facility opened in 2018.

Last month, the government suspended the license of the Aga Khan Lycee that was established in Khorugh in September 1998.

It will be renamed the State Lycee for Gifted Students and operate under the auspices of the Education Ministry.

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The Aga Khan Lycee was established in Khorugh in 1998.

Tajik authorities haven't publicly commented on the closure of the AKDN entities. There have been no official statements by the AKDN.

RFE/RL's Tajik Service contacted government officials but didn't receive a response to its queries. AKDN representatives in Khorugh declined to comment.

Dushanbe has struggled to assert control in Gorno-Badakhshan, where so-called informal local leaders enjoy more influence than government officials appointed by the central government.

Recurrent Protests

The region has been the scene of many anti-government protests that are met harshly by security forces over the years. Protest rallies are rare in the rest of the strictly controlled Central Asian nation where dissent is not tolerated.

Dozens of people were killed and wounded in Gorno-Badakhshan in 2012 in a clash between government forces and local militants sparked by the killing of a security official.

In 2014, at least three people were killed and several buildings set on fire in Khorugh in fighting between locals and security forces.

A new wave of protests erupted in Khorugh in November 2021 with up to 5,000 people attending daily rallies, according to local residents. At least one person was killed and several wounded in the protests that were sparked by the fatal shooting of a local man by police.

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Anti-government rallies in Gorno-Badakhshan in 2022

The four-day demonstration ended after negotiations between government officials and representatives of the protesters.

The government agreed to protesters' demands that included dismantling police checkpoints and not opening criminal probes against the protest organizers.

But it launched a campaign against the informal leaders and other influential figures in the region -- including those who had left the country.

'Uneasy Relationship'

A longstanding mutual distrust between the government in Dushanbe and the people of Gorno-Badakhshan "is more palpable now than ever," a local political observer told RFE/RL's Tajik Service.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the Khorugh native reiterated a relatively widespread sentiment that Dushanbe remains cautious of possible separatist ideas as well as the local population's loyalty to the Aga Khan. The majority of people in the rest of Tajikistan adhere to Sunni Islam.

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The Aga Khan has visited Tajikistan several times.

Most of the people living in Gorno-Badakhshan, who are also called Pamiris, have their own local languages.

"Suspicions among government officials toward the Aga Khan organizations have particularly deepened since the 2022 protests. Some officials even seem to believe these agencies provide financial backing to those who nurture separatist ideas, but this is a baseless suspicion," the expert said. "The Aga Khan and his agencies don't need or seek instability here."

Edward Lemon, a Central Asia expert at Texas A&M University, says that "while the Aga Khan is their spiritual leader and Pamiris do have their own languages and religion, there is no viable pathway to independence or desire to be formally independent."

"What Pamiris are seeking is their right to live a dignified life autonomously from government interference and repression," he told RFE/RL. "But the government will not allow this."

Lemon described the relationship between the Aga Khan and the Tajik government as "uneasy."

Authorities in Tajikistan have never publicly alluded to any mistrust toward the AKDN presence in the country.

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The Aga Khan addresses his followers in Tajikistan.

In the early 2000s, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon maintained what seemed to be a cordial relationship with the current Aga Khan -- Shah Karim al-Husseini -- who visited Tajikistan several times.

The Aga Khan, 86, last traveled to Tajikistan in 2012.

The AKDN first launched its projects in Tajikistan in the 1990s, providing humanitarian assistance to the country amid civil war.

The AKDN expanded its operation to other spheres, including education, finance, and health care, employing some 3,500 people across the country at its peak. It's not known how many jobs were affected by the recent appropriation of the agency's properties.
Written and reported by Farangis Najibullah with additional reporting by RFE/RL Tajik Service correspondent Mirzonabi Kholiqzod

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Farangis Najibullah

Farangis Najibullah is a senior correspondent for RFE/RL who has reported on a wide range of topics from Central Asia, including the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the region. She has extensively covered efforts by Central Asian states to repatriate and reintegrate their citizens who joined Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
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Re: TAJIKISTAN & Central Asia Visit NEWS, EVENT and TESTIMO

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https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/other/ta ... r-AA1f5LhR

Tajikistan: University of Central Asia latest target in Aga Khan sweep

Story by Eurasianet

The sustained assault by the government of Tajikistan on the operations of a charitable organization funded by the Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of the country’s Ismaili minority, has taken a new turn with an effort to confiscate the site of a university.

Privately owned news agency Asia-Plus reported on August 7 that the economic court of the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region, also known as GBAO, has ruled in favor of a regional prosecutor’s request to seize the land on which University of Central Asia, or UCA, is built. The campus is located in Khorog, the capital of GBAO, the Pamiri mountain region in which most of Tajikistan’s Ismaili community live.

In filing their petition, prosecutors claimed that the university was built in violation of land code regulations. Given that multiple other entities funded by Aga Khan organizations have been singled out for similar treatment, there are strong reasons to believe the explanations being provided by officials are pretextual.

Speaking to reporters, the chair of the High Economic Court of Tajikistan, Rustam Mirzozoda, claimed that the issue with the Khorog university was to do with the duration of the lease for the land on which the buildings stand.

Under land code rules, plots may be provided to foreign nationals or legal entities for periods of up to 50 years. Mirzozoda said that this particular rule was violated as no specific timeframe was attached to the lease deal.

UCA representatives have filed an appeal that will be considered by the Supreme Economic Court, but its chances of overturning the initial ruling look remote against the backdrop of the campaign against Aga Khan-related entities.

As the point of reference for the Tajik community of Ismaili, an offshoot of Shia Islam whose faith lies at odds with the Sunni majority, the current Aga Khan, Shah Karim al-Husayni, a multimillionaire based in Europe, has played an outsized role in Tajik public life since the 1990s. When the war broke out following independence, the Aga Khan was hailed by Pamiris for his efforts to provide humanitarian aid. His visit to the GBAO in 1995 continues to be recalled to this day as a landmark event.

Since then, the Aga Khan has continued to provide support to Pamiris though his development organizations.

It is quietly whispered that the authorities are resentful of the standing that Aga Khan enjoys among his Ismaili followers – an implicit snub to President Emomali Rahmon, who is the object of a personality cult.

Few undertakings have been so big and eye-catching as UCA. The university is built on a large ledge of land overlooking Khorog and cost around $100 million to complete. It is part of a broader regional network of similar educational institutions – the other campuses are in Naryn in Kyrgyzstan and Tekeli in Kazakhstan.

An agreement endorsing the creation of this multinational university was signed by the presidents of the three countries and the Aga Khan in the early 2000s. The president of each country, including Rahmon, are designated patrons of UCA.

One of the ambiguities underlying the status of UCA in Tajikistan, however, has to do with who will take ownership of the university in the event of the land being reverted to government control.

There are unmistakable signs that the pressure being applied to the UCA is part of a pattern. In June, the authorities revoked the license of the Aga Khan Lycée in Khorog. The last day of that month was the final day on which the secondary school was to operate under the aegis of the Aga Khan Foundation. From the next academic year, the school will be converted into a Lyceum for Gifted Children run by the Education and Science Ministry.

Aga Khan Lycée was notable both for offering what was considered a high standard of education and also teaching in English. This latter detail appears to have irked Tajik officials.

In a press conference on August 1, Deputy Education and Science Minister Ziyodullo Abdulzoda said that the reason for stripping the Aga Khan Lycée of its license was that it failed to meet the standards of Tajikistan’s educational system.

“Unfortunately, this educational institution pays more attention to the study of other subjects, so it can be said that in most cases graduates of this lyceum do not speak the state language,” Abdulzoda said.

As to the general standard of Tajik state education, though, there is general agreement that it is low – the result of poor funding and outmoded pedagogical methods.

A UNICEF assessment on education that focused most heavily on the needs of young children was damning. What is more, the UN agency found that educational authorities have little way to understand how children are faring in class.

“Tajikistan lacks a learning assessment system, and learning outcomes are not measured systematically. This means that education reforms are not informed by evidence, and recent evaluations have resulted in low reading ability and comprehension in early grades,” UNICEF found.

It is not just Aga Khan schools that have been placed in the crosswires. Other assets that have got the nationalization treatment include the upmarket Serena Hotel and the Culture and Leisure Central Park in Khorog.

Prosecutors in GBAO are now going through the courts to pursue nationalization of the Aga Khan Medical Center in Khorog, which was built at a cost of $24 million and started operating in 2018.

The Aga Khan Foundation has refrained from public commentary on the situation
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https://thediplomat.com/2023/08/the-tyr ... ajikistan/

The Tyranny of Fear in Tajikistan

“Every arrest, case of torture, extrajudicial killing and kidnapping sends a signal to journalists, activists, community leaders and lawyers about the cost of challenging the regime.”

By Catherine Putz
August 15, 2023

On July 4, a group of 10 U.N. experts – including special rapporteurs whose mandates cover human rights defenders, religious freedom, judges and lawyers, and the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism – issued a statement urging Tajikistan “to show genuine commitment to improving the situation of human rights defenders in the country” and expressed concern about the convictions of eight specific human rights defenders.

Mary Lawlor, the U.N. special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, told The Diplomat that it took ages to get the press release out – in large part because of fear and hesitation among the human rights defenders whose cases were mentioned and those whose cases were ultimately not.

“There were others who said they didn’t want any publicity or their names [printed] because they feared reprisals against them or their family members,” Lawlor said.

“Fear is central to the government’s grip on power in Tajikistan,” Edward Lemon, president of the Oxus Society for Central Asian Affairs and a research assistant professor with the Bush School, Texas A&M, told The Diplomat. “Every arrest, case of torture, extrajudicial killing and kidnapping sends a signal to journalists, activists, community leaders, and lawyers about the cost of challenging the regime. This leads to many withdrawing from public life, leaving the country, or self-censoring.”

“Many people are driven by fear for their own safety,” Bakhtiyor Safarov, the founder of Central Asia Consulting and a human rights defender told The Diplomat. But they’re also driven by fear for the “safety of their relatives, who could face dire consequences such as death, torture, rape, false accusations of extremism or terrorism, confiscation of their wealth, and social exclusion.”

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Safarov spoke from direct experience. He told The Diplomat that his mother, a teacher back in Tajikistan, “was under constant pressure from her colleagues” because of his political activities, and his father “was detained and now has serious health issues.”

The pressure exerted on his family – which stretched beyond his parents, to siblings, uncles and even more distant relatives – “has resulted in them no longer speaking with me.”

“The Tajik government is engaged in sociological warfare, attempting to hinder my efforts and other activists.”

The U.N. experts in their July 4 press release highlighted eight specific cases, those of Daler Imomali, Abdulloh Ghurbati, Zavqibek Saidamini, Abdusattor Pirmukhammadzoda, Ulfathonim Mamadshoeva, Manuchekhr Kholiknazarov, Faromuz Irgashov, and Khushom Guliam. The statement read:

Daler Imomali, Abdulloh Ghurbati, Zavqibek Saidamini, and Abdusattor Pirmukhammadzoda are journalists and bloggers who were arrested in June and July 2022. Their arrests appear to be linked to their coverage of social issues and alleged human rights abuses. Ulfathonim Mamadshoeva, a civil society representative of the Pamiri minority and journalist, Pamiri lawyers Manuchekhr Kholiknazarov and Faromuz Irgashov, as well as Khushom Guliam, a journalist and blogger who popularised Pamiri culture, were all involved in defending human rights in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast. They were arrested in May 2022 during a crackdown on protesters in the GBAO and human rights defenders working on the region.

Earlier, in mid-May, the experts sent a communication to the Tajik government outlining in great detail nine cases. One of those cases pertained to lawyer Abdulmajid Rizoev, who was released on May 18, days after the communication was sent, and so his case was not included in the July 4 press release.

Diplomatically, the experts wrote in May: “While we do not wish to prejudge the accuracy of these allegations, we would like to express our utmost concern at the criminalization and sentencing – in some cases to long terms, exceeding ten years – of the human rights defenders mentioned above.” They go on to note allegations of arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, as well as torture and ill-treatment, “including in order to extract false confessions.”

Another theme the experts highlighted was the “apparent pattern of using extremism- and terrorism-related charges against human rights defenders and minority activists, particularly those defending the rights of the Pamiri minority, allegedly to discredit them and justify further secrecy around their cases.”

In a recent hearing on Tajikistan convened by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) U.N. Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief Nazila Ghanea delivered testimony that touched upon this theme. (Ghanea was one of the U.N. experts behind the July 4 press release and May communication to the Tajik government.) In her testimony, Ghanea noted, “What drives [the Tajik government’s] highly regulated scope for [freedom of religion or belief] is an almost singular overarching drive to address violent extremism and terrorism.”

The crackdown in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO) came to a violent head in May 2022, as local protesters decried previous extrajudicial killings by government security forces. The Tajik government called its crackdown an “anti-terrorist operation.”

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Lawlor, in a recent interview with The Diplomat, cut right through the facade of the government’s narrative: “When [the Tajik government talks] about the crackdown, that it’s all terrorists and organized crime… that’s complete rubbish.”

“It all started because of the extrajudicial killings in GBAO. In November 2021 and [May] 2022, and that led to peaceful protests” she said. Commission 44, a group of human rights defenders and activists investigating human rights violations in GBAO, was formed in late 2021 and initially tried to work with the government – looking for a way forward for GBAO. But Dushanbe’s attitude shifted quickly, and Commission 44’s leaders were eventually arrested.

Ghanea, in her testimony in the USCIRF hearing, recounted that “tens of sources” informed her that the Tajik State Committee on National Security had invited the heads of more than 120 NGOs to a meeting in GBAO in the spring where officials tried to persuade them to “voluntarily self-liquidate.” RFE/RL reported the same claim, that NGOs and other civil society groups were pressured by the security services to disband their operations “voluntarily.”

The Tajik Justice Ministry in August said it had carried out “inspections” of 140 NGOs in GBAO and that five – three human rights groups (Nomus va Insof, Pyanj, and the Pamir Lawyers Association) and two youth groups (Youth of Ishkashim District and Klubi Gushtini Shaidon) – were closed for alleged connections to “criminal groups.”

The crackdown has only gained momentum. A nationalization campaign has focused on the Aga Khan Foundation’s operations. The vast GBAO region is populated by the Pamiri people, who are predominately Ismaili Shia and followers of the Aga Khan. The Aga Khan Development Network has long provided vital education and health services via its foundation to the people of the Pamirs.

Ghanea noted that, as she did at the conclusion of her April visit to Tajikistan during which she was not enabled by Dushanbe to visit GBAO, “countering violent extremism and terrorism can constitute legitimate grounds for limitations to manifestation of freedom of religion or belief. However, this needs to be carried out in a manner that does not risk extinguishing the right to religion or belief itself. In Tajikistan, this balance has not been struck in a way that fully upholds freedom of religion or belief.”

Aside from the release of Rizoev, the Tajik government has not made any moves with regard to the named cases, nor has it responded to the May communication, which asked for further information regarding these cases. (The Tajik government did, however, respond in May 2023 to an October 2022 communication from the same group of U.N. experts regarding some of the same cases – illustrating that the sluggish pace is typical, not unusual.)

To a certain extent, the Tajik government does respond to pressure – long-sustained, multifaceted, pressure.

The May communication asked for more information pertaining to “what measures have been taken by Your Excellency’s Government to implement the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention’s Opinion no. 39/2022, concerning the arbitrary deprivation of liberty of Mr. Rizoev.” Although Dushanbe did not respond to the communication, Rizoev was released mere days after it was sent, a coincidence worth pondering.

“There have been numerous cases where a combination of public and private pressure via media, social media, and diplomatic channels has worked in securing the release of political prisoners or introduction of new policies,” Lemon said, highlighting the releases of Ph.D. candidate Alex Sodiqov in 2014, journalist Khayrullo Mirsaidov in 2018, and 10-year-old Fatima Davlyatova in 2018. But these success stories “are overshadowed by the continued detention of hundreds of political prisoners in the country, as well as widespread human rights abuses and a steadily worsening political situation.”

Western nations have limited leverage when it comes to Tajikistan, but there are some avenues through which pressure can be exerted, some argue.

Lawlor highlighted Tajikistan’s renewed pursuit of entry into the EU’s GSP+ regime and the obligations mandated therein. In order to be eligible for GSP+, wherein the EU cuts import duties to zero on more than two-thirds of the tariff lines of their exports, a country must implement 27 international conventions on a range of issues including human rights, labor rights, the environment, and good governance. While Tajikistan is party to all of the necessary agreements, its implementation is severely lacking.

Human rights “are supposed to form part of the GSP+ agreement,” Lawlor underscored, stating her hope that the EU pays close attention not just to the ratification of the necessary conventions but the reality of their implementation, or lack thereof, on the ground.

Lemon noted that although “the importance of relationships with the West has diminished” in light of Dushanbe’s reliance on Russia and China, its pursuit of closer ties with Gulf states and Turkey, as well as the U.S./NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan, “there are some tools that the U.S. and EU could use, including targeted sanctions and travel bans for individuals linked to human rights abuses and corruption, closing off financial centers to corrupt money and ceasing arms transfers. This could be combined with certain incentives such as the EU’s GSP scheme or U.K.’s migrant labor visa scheme.”

Although limited, what leverage the U.S. and EU have has arguably not been used effectively.

“I get very disheartened when I hear the rhetoric of the EU about how protecting human rights defenders is a priority, human rights are a priority, blahdy-blahdy-blah, and then they go and they’re either silent or do pretty much nothing. If there’s a trade or strategic interest, that trumps human rights,” Lawlor told The Diplomat.

But, she said, “I believe that governments have thick necks and you can pursue your trade and strategic interests whilst at the same time being firm on the standards that the country has agreed to and that are expected in any agreement with the EU.”

It’s not just the EU that has disappointed some observers.

When it comes to religious freedoms, USCIRF has since 2012 recommended that Tajikistan be designated a violator of religious freedom, a “country of particular concern,” by the U.S. State Department. While Tajikistan has been designated a CPC since 2016, it has also consistently been granted a waiver – in the “national interests” of the U.S. – and thus has never been subject to punitive sanctions that ostensibly come with the designation. It’s widely assumed that past waivers related to the U.S. war in Afghanistan, but U.S. administrations have never clarified, publicly, their rationale.

In the USCIRF hearing mentioned above, Lemon also delivered testimony in which he argued that in light of decreasing U.S. security interests and leverage in the region, “targeted sanctions could now be applied to individuals within the State Committee on National Security and Ministry of Internal Affairs…”

USCIRF Commissioner Eric M. Ueland, in an interview with The Diplomat shortly after the hearing, stressed the same. In convening the hearing, Ueland said the commissioners believed it was important to share the special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief’s interim findings – which, like Lawlor’s findings, won’t be formally presented until next year – as well as the reflections of regional experts and keep focus on Tajikistan’s violations of religious freedom.

On the topic of waivers and what the United States could do to affect the situation in Tajikistan, he noted that USCIRF “has seen no evidence” that the Biden administration has worked to evaluate and examine its programs with Tajikistan. “[N]or have we heard any explanation of why the waivers are being granted, much less anything this State Department and this president are doing bilaterally” with regard to Tajikistan in this area.

“I don’t believe that this administration values religious freedom in any significant way,” Ueland said.

Whether in relation to religious freedom or the issues surrounding human rights defenders, it’s clear that budging Dushanbe has proven difficult. And what points of leverage the West does have – such as through the GSP+ negotiation process, reevaluations of aid, and the threat of targeted sanctions – may be underutilized.

Governments are not alone in being unsure of what to do. Lawlor stressed that the relatives of human rights defenders detained by the Tajik government don’t know what to do either.

“They don’t know whether it’s better to find publicity to force [change] or whether it’s better to just stay quiet and hope that if they stay quiet whoever it is would be released. It’s a very cruel situation,” she said.

“We can’t normalize the kind of disguising, revolting, cruel behavior of the Tajik government toward innocent people,” Lawlor told The Diplomat, arguing that the human rights defenders named in the U.N. experts’ press release need to be released – either pardoned or amnestied, but most certainly set free.
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Re: TAJIKISTAN & Central Asia Visit NEWS, EVENT and TESTIMO

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https://www.rferl.org/a/tajikistan-gorn ... 61814.html

August 23, 2023 16:09 GMT

By RFE/RL's Tajik Service

Hollow Visit: Gorno-Badakhshan Not In Welcoming Mood For Tajik President On First Visit Since Bloody Clampdown

The streets of Khorugh were half-empty and businesses were forced to close during Tajik President Emomali Rahmon’s recent trip to the remote city, the capital of the restive Gorno-Badakhshan region.

Rahmon’s unannounced visit from August 15-18 marked his first to the region since at least 34 people were killed in Dushanbe’s brutal crackdown on anti-government protests in Khorugh and the nearby Rushon district in May 2022, with several activists also being arrested and sentenced to long prison terms.

The trip took place amid very tight security measures, with all businesses, shops, and bazaars ordered to close a day before the president arrived, residents told RFE/RL on August 21.

“During the president’s previous visits, the public reaction was usually mixed and perhaps only a few people were unhappy with those trips, with many locals welcoming him. But this time it seemed that people in Khorugh and the districts of Rushon and Roshtqala were equally [displeased with the visit],” said a local journalist.

“The reasons behind it are the bloody events last year and the government’s takeover of some of Agha Khan [Development] Network’s properties,” the journalist said on condition of anonymity.

The reporter was referring to Tajikistan’s recent takeover of several major properties linked to the Aga Khan network in Gorno-Badakhshan.

The Aga Khan is the imam of the Ismaili Shi'ite community, and an overwhelming majority of Gorno-Badakhshan’s citizens identify as Ismailis. The appropriation of the properties -- including a hotel, a city park, and private school -- began shortly after the May 2022 protests and continues.

The government has also intensified the persecution of prominent figures from the region, arresting several journalists and community leaders in the past year.

The remote region in eastern Tajikistan has been the scene of several deadly protests and clashes between the security forces and local armed groups over the past three decades.

Last-Minute Cancellation

Several planned meetings and events were scrapped from Rahmon’s agenda at the last minute, according to RFE/RL sources.

Rahmon was expected to visit Rushon, one of the epicenters of last year’s violence. But the trip didn’t take place. At least 114 Rushon residents were arrested during what the government called an “anti-terrorist operation” during the violence. It said weapons were seized during the raids.

All businesses, shops, and bazaars were ordered closed in Gorno-Badakhshan ahead of a visit to the restive region by Rahmon (right).

Authorities accused some local groups of attacking government officials and blocking a major highway. Residents, however, said security forces opened fire on unarmed people, while also arresting and extrajudicially killing several men in the district.

Ahead of the president’s trip “there were rumors that women in Rushon were planning to wear black clothes to greet Rahmon and express their discontent,” the journalist in Khorugh said. “I don’t know if the rumors were true, but Rahmon’s trip to Rushon was canceled.”

A source in the regional government told RFE/RL that the speculation about possible protests by women were baseless, and that Rahmon was unable to take part in some planned events “due to his health issues.” No further details were given.

“The president was to attend opening ceremonies in nine locations, but he was only able to visit four of them. The rest were opened by the other dignitaries visiting from Dushanbe with the president,” the source said.

The trip to the region went without any security incidents, the source said on August 21.

“There were risks of some unforeseen incidents happening during meetings with activists in Roshtqala or Khorugh in regard to last year’s events, but no such incidents took place and everything was under control,” the source added.

Concerned Over Security

Tajik authorities made no comment about the changes to Rahmon’s itinerary. The local government reported on several new entities being officially launched during the president’s visit, though he was notably absent from some of them.

In contrast, Rahmon’s trip to the Vanj and Darvoz districts went “quite well,” according to RFE/RL sources. Vanj and Darvoz were unaffected by the violence last year.

“The tight security measures showed that authorities were concerned about the president’s safety during the trip,” the sources added.

Rahmon did officially open a new school, a residential building, and two factories. He also addressed a gathering in Khorugh with government officials and what the president’s website called “activists in Gorno-Badakhshan.”

Rahmon praised development and investments in the area and claimed his government is committed to improving people’s lives in Gorno-Badakhshan.

But he made no mention of the violence last year or the arrests, killings, and persecution that followed the protests.
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https://novastan.org/fr/tadjikistan/tad ... ismaelien/

Dans les hautes montagnes du Tadjikistan, le dernier calife ismaélien

Au Tadjikistan, la question religieuse est un enjeu au cœur des politiques du pays. Ce qui est considéré pour beaucoup comme de la répression contre les religieux a atteint un nouveau tournant avec l’arrestation du calife ismaélien Mouzaffar Davlatmirov. Entre enjeu politique et culturel, la communauté ismaélienne concentre l’attention du gouvernement.

Le calife Mouzaffar Davlatmirov est l'une des nombreuses personnalités pamiries qui purgent une peine de prison depuis mai 2022

La culture pamirie, unique, se trouve menacée par la répression étatique dirigée contre les pratiques et les chefs religieux. En 2021 et 2022, le chef religieux du Haut-Badakhchan, Mouzaffar Davlatmirov, a été témoin de la cruauté du gouvernement vis-à-vis de sa communauté. Tout cela s’est passé dans le cadre d’une campagne de répression déjà ancienne dirigée contre la religion, la culture et les manifestations antigouvernementales dans la région.

Le calife ismaélien de 59 ans, de Khorog, capitale régionale du Haut-Badakhchan, est en prison, comme des centaines d’autres habitants de la région.

La région autonome du Haut-Badakhchan, montagneuse et peu peuplée, occupe la partie orientale du Tadjikistan. Elle est habitée par les Pamiris, une minorité ethnique qui professe l’ismaélisme, une branche chiite de l’islam que les autorités ont longtemps considérée avec méfiance.
Un conflit évolutif

Le 16 mai 2022, Mouzaffar Davlatmirov a été le témoin du nettoyage de Khorog par l’armée tadjike et par les forces de l’ordre. Lors de ces actions, pas moins de 25 personnes ont été tuées. Selon la journaliste locale Anora Sarkorova, 32 personnes ont été tuées dans les environs de Rouchan.

Cette opération est le point culminant des tentatives répétées et violentes du pouvoir central à Douchanbé de prendre le contrôle du Haut-Badakhchan. Mouzaffar Davlatmirov ne voulait pas être lié aux officiels tadjiks. Son but était de préserver les pratiques de la foi ismaélienne. En d’autres termes, le calife se consacrait entièrement à la culture pamirie.

Cela l’a amené à entrer en conflit avec le pouvoir, dominé par la majorité ethnique tadjike, sunnite. Mouzaffar Davlatmirov est arrêté en juillet 2022, à la fin de « l’opération antiterroriste ». Huit jours plus tard, il est reconnu coupable, lors d’un procès à huis clos, d’appels publics à l’extrémisme. Il est condamné à cinq ans de prison.

« Dans ses sermons, il appelait les habitants à garder leur calme, mais dans le même temps, il critiquait les actions illégales du gouvernement », raconte un proche associé, préférant garder l’anonymat, auprès du service tadjik de Radio Free Europe.
Emprisonné pour avoir « porté les corps dans les tombes »

Il n’y a pas de preuves que Mouzaffar Davlatmirov appelait à l’extrémisme. Il ne le faisait pas lors des précédentes périodes de violences dans le Haut-Badakhchan, par exemple dans les années 2012-2013. A cette époque, des dizaines de personnes avaient été tuées dans un affrontement entre les forces gouvernementales et des groupes locaux, après le meurtre d’un commandant local du service de sécurité nationale.

« Tellement d’entre nous ont été tués », raconte un interlocuteur d’openDemocracy qui souhaite rester anonyme. Cette personne connaissait Mouzaffar Davlatmirov et ajoute qu’il était « un de ceux qui avaient porté les corps dans les tombes ».

Beaucoup considèrent, dans le Haut-Badakhchan, qu’il a été emprisonné pour avoir célébré les funérailles de chefs locaux influents, tués pendant l’opération « antiterroriste » de 2022, alors que le gouvernement exigeait qu’il n’en fasse rien.

« Mais les représentants des structures régaliennes n’en avaient rien à faire de sa lutte pour la justice, ni du fait que Mouzaffar Davlatmirov était respecté à la fois des habitants et des chefs officieux de la région », explique la source à Radio Free Europe. Une fois de plus, il a fait passer sa foi et les individus avant l’Etat. Mais il semble que c’était la fois de trop pour les autorités tadjikes.
Une culture unique en danger

Le paysage rude et difficile d’accès du Haut-Badakhchan abrite une culture unique. Les Pamiris sont un groupe de musulmans chiites entourés de sunnites. Cependant, il semble que ce groupe ait précédé l’arrivée de l’islam de quelques centaines d’années. Les Pamiris parlent des langues iraniennes orientales qui se distinguent des deux principales langues iraniennes de la région, le tadjik et le dari.

A date, cette culture des hautes montagnes d’Asie centrale est proche de l’extinction et Mouzaffar Davlatmirov pourrait être l’un des derniers califes du Haut-Badakhchan.

Plusieurs personnalités publiques influentes ont été tuées lors des événements de mai-juin 2022, et des centaines de personnes parmi les plus actives de la région – journalistes, influenceurs, militants, juristes et même poètes – se trouvent maintenant en prison suite à des procès secrets, selon le même procédé qu’avec l’affaire Davlatmirov.
Accusés d’appartenir à des groupes terroristes

Les autorités tadjikes ont annoncé dès le départ que l’opération de sécurité était dirigée contre « les terroristes appuyés par un soutien étranger », mais cette affirmation a rapidement disparu du discours officiel. La majorité des plus de 100 Pamiris emprisonnés à ce jour a été condamnée pour « extrémisme » ou pour lien avec « des groupes extrémistes ».

Par le passé, le gouvernement tadjik a accusé les chefs officieux locaux de la région d’appartenir à « des groupes terroristes ». Les habitants s’adressent à ces « chefs » pour demander de l’aide afin de communiquer avec les fonctionnaires haut placés ou pour chercher du travail. La population locale ne les considère pas comme des criminels. De plus, les habitants sont enclins à considérer les militaires et les forces gouvernementales de sécurité comme l’élément sans foi ni loi dans la région.

La raison la plus probable de cette campagne cruelle de la part du gouvernement tadjik est qu’il n’a pas réussi à contrôler le Haut-Badakhchan de la même manière qu’il contrôle toutes les autres parties du pays. Malgré le fait que ce soit la région la plus pauvre du pays, c’était là où se trouvait l’une des sociétés civiles les plus actives d’Asie centrale. Avant mai 2022, c’était la seule région dans laquelle il se produisait constamment des manifestations contre la politique du gouvernement.
Interdiction de se réunir dans les maisons pour prier

En ce moment, cette culture est attaquée. Les autorités ont ordonné de fermer les lieux de prière ismaéliens en mai 2022, lorsque les violences ont débuté, puis elles ont interdit les pratiquants de se réunir dans les maisons pour prier. Les habitants peuvent, comme avant, prier dans les centres officiels, mais il n’y en a que deux dans le pays, un à Khorog et l’autre à Douchanbé. Ces centres n’ont plus le droit de mener des activités culturelles et éducatives.

Selon un journaliste indépendant du Haut-Badakhchan, Mouzaffar Davlatmirov était en première ligne en matière d’opposition. Le gouvernement tadjik ne l’aimait pas parce qu’il « ne supportait pas leur ingérence dans les affaires religieuses ».

Les autorités de Khorog ont ordonné aux plus âgés des communautés d’avertir les habitants que le portrait de leur chef spirituel, l’Aga Khan, devait être retiré des murs des maisons.

Le rôle de L’Aga Khan

L’Aga Khan est le fondateur de la Fondation humanitaire Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). La plupart des améliorations dans le Haut-Badakhchan depuis l’indépendance du Tadjikistan sont de son fait. L’AKDN a financé la construction de stations hydroélectriques qui fournissent en électricité les villages isolés, les parcs et l’University of Central Asia à Khorog. La Fondation a également financé la recherche sur les cultures hybrides qui peuvent pousser dans des régions de haute altitude.

Lire aussi sur Novastan : Tadjikistan : la pression sur la Fondation Aga Khan s’intensifie

A une époque, même le président du Tadjikistan, Emomali Rahmon, accueillait favorablement l’Aga Khan, mais depuis 2012, la permission de se rendre dans le pays lui a été refusée. Le gouvernement met en place tout ce qui est possible pour réduire son influence dans la région.

Tout cela se déroule sous nos yeux. Les événements dans le Haut-Badakhchan ont été soumis à de sévères critiques de la part des organisations internationales de défense des droits humains, mais le gouvernement tadjik n’en prend pas compte.

Il n’y a eu aucune répercussion diplomatique sérieuse sur les autorités tadjikes suite à leur campagne contre les Pamiris. Si la politique de l’Etat tadjik ne s’adoucit pas et poursuit sur cette voie, cette culture ancienne de haute montagne cessera d’exister.

Mouhammad Zaïn Chafi Khan et Bruce Pannier

Traduit du russe par Nane Bouvier

Edité par Mariane N’dri

Relu par Charlotte Bonin

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