Tajikistan Human Rights - History

Tajikistan Human Rights - History

The law provides for freedom of speech, including for the press, but the government restricted these rights.

Freedom of Expression: The authorities continued to curb freedom of speech through detentions, prosecutions, the threat of heavy fines, the passage of strict and overreaching slander legislation, and the forced closure of media outlets. By law a person may be imprisoned for as long as five years for insulting the president.

In March police in Khujand arrested Hasan Abdurazzoqov, a resident of Sughd Province, allegedly for offending the reputation of President Rahmon. According to media reports, Abdurazzoqov took down a picture of Rahmon from a city wall and threw it to the ground in front of observers. The Prosecutor’s Office launched a criminal case against Abdurazzoqov, accusing him of defaming the president, hooliganism, and vandalism. Authorities did not comment on the case, and reportedly no lawyers agreed to represent Abdurazoqov. If found guilty, Abdurazoqov faced up to eight years in prison.

Press and Media Freedom: Independent media faced significant and repeated government threats on media outlets. Although some print media published political commentary and investigatory material critical of the government, journalists observed that authorities considered certain topics off limits, including, among other matters, questions regarding financial improprieties of those close to the president, or content regarding the banned IRPT.

Several independent television and radio stations were available in a small portion of the country, but the government controlled most broadcasting transmission facilities. A decree issued by the government, “Guidelines for the Preparation of Television and Radio Programs,” stipulates that the government through a state broadcast committee has the right to “regulate and control the content of all television and radio networks regardless of their type of ownership.”

The government allowed some international media to operate and permitted rebroadcasts of Russian television and radio programs. In November 2016 the independent news media outlet Tojnews closed its doors following government harassment. The outlet’s chief editor left the country due to personal security concerns and the threat of prosecution.

Violence and Harassment: Journalists continued to face harassment and intimidation by government officials. Although the government decriminalized libel in 2012, state officials regularly filed defamation complaints against news outlets in retaliation for publishing stories critical of the government.

In late spring the Ismoili Somoni District Court of Dushanbe found journalist Mizhgona Halimova, a reporter for Ozodagon news agency, guilty of “not reporting on and concealing a crime.” The court claimed that Halimova had failed to disclose information concerning a citizen traveling to Syria to join ISIS and fined her 25,000 somoni ($2,850). During the hearing Halimova did not have legal representation, but journalists helped her pay the fine. Halimova did not appeal the decision, reportedly believing the appeal process would be flawed. Some sources speculated that authorities brought charges against Halimova because of her conflict with the chairwoman of the Committee on Women and Family Affairs, arising from a question Halimova asked the chairwoman at a press conference regarding women wearing the hijab. Until 2015 Halimova had worked for Najot, an official weekly newspaper of the IRPT, and the Nahzat.tj news website.

Censorship or Content Restrictions: Journalists regularly practiced self-censorship to avoid retribution from officials. Opposition politicians had limited or no access to state-run television. The government gave opposition parties minimal broadcast time to express their political views, while the president’s party had numerous opportunities to broadcast its messages.

Newspaper publishers reported the government exercised restrictions on the distribution of materials, requiring all newspapers and magazines with circulations exceeding 99 recipients to register with the Ministry of Culture. The government continued to control all major printing presses and the supply of newsprint. Independent community radio stations continued to experience registration and licensing delays that prevented them from broadcasting. The government restricted issuance of licenses to new stations, in part through an excessively complex application process. The National Committee on Television and Radio, a government organization that directly manages television and radio stations in the country, must approve and then provide licenses to new stations. The government continued to deny the BBC a renewal of its license to broadcast on FM radio.

Libel/Slander Laws: In 2012 the government repealed the law criminalizing libel and defamation and downgraded the offenses to civil violations, although the law retains controversial provisions that make publicly insulting the president an offense punishable by a fine or up to five years in jail. Nevertheless, libel judgments were common, particularly against newspapers critical of the government.


Individuals and groups faced extensive government surveillance of internet activity, including emails, and often self-censored their views while posting on the internet.

According to a World Bank report issued in June, 17 percent of the population used the internet regularly.

There were new and continuing government restrictions on access to internet websites, such as Facebook, YouTube, Google, Google services, and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, although some of the restrictions were lifted during the year. The State Communications Service, the official communications regulator, routinely denied involvement in blocking these sites, but the government admitted to periodically implementing a law that allows interruption of internet content and telecommunications “in the interest of national security.” The government continued to implement a 2015 law enabling the GKNB to shut off internet and telecommunications during security operations.

On July 12, the Majlisi Milli, the upper house of parliament, passed a law giving law enforcement bodies the right to track citizens using the internet. According to the new bill, the security agencies can monitor internet traffic and have access to information regarding which internet sites citizens visit and the type of information they seek.


The Ministry of Education maintained a dress code that bans wearing the hijab in schools and government institutions. Authorities allowed women to wear a traditional version of the head covering--a scarf that covers hair but not the neck--to schools and universities. Some female students wore the hijab to and from school but removed it upon entering the school building. Parents and school officials appeared to accept this arrangement. The ministry also maintained its ban on beards for all teachers. Students with beards reported being removed from class, questioned, and asked to shave. In January the Ministry of Education signed a decree obliging all female teachers, university students, and schoolchildren to wear traditional dress, starting from March 1 until the end of the academic year in June.

In July and August, government authorities increased the urgency of their effort to dissuade citizens from wearing “foreign clothing,” primarily focused on the hijab, which covers the hair, ears, and neck. According to media reports, the government’s Committee on Women and Family Affairs, in cooperation with the Ministry of Internal Affairs, conducted informational campaigns, or “raids,” in public areas against women wearing the hijab, threatening those who refused to remove their hijab with a 1,000 somoni ($115) fine and six months’ imprisonment. In addressing these media reports, the ministry denied that such measures existed and claimed the government was conducting a public campaign to promote national culture and clothing.

A Ministry of Education directive requires school administrators to inform students of the Law on Parental Responsibility, which bans all persons under age 18 from participating in public religious activities, with the exception of funerals. The law provides that, with written parental consent, minors between the ages of seven and 18 may obtain a religious education during their free time from school and outside the state education curriculum and may worship as part of educational activities at religious institutions.

The government requires all persons studying religion abroad to register with the Committee on Religious Affairs (CRA), Ministry of Education, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The law provides criminal penalties for violating restrictions on sending citizens abroad for religious education, preaching and teaching religious doctrines, and establishing ties with religious groups abroad without CRA consent.

The Ministry of Education banned students from attending events sponsored by or conducted for foreign organizations during school hours. On April 1, police dispersed participants of a two-day international education fair in Dushanbe. The director of the organizing company reported on Facebook that she had obtained all the necessary permissions for the education fair, but police nevertheless entered the exhibition hall and shut down the event. Police also destroyed a promotional video and photograph materials from the event. The Ministry of Education subsequently released a statement claiming the organizers had lacked the necessary documentation for the event.

There were several reports throughout the year that academics writing on sensitive subjects regarding politics, religion, and history feared publishing or even submitting their articles for review for fear of retribution. There was no official censorship, however, of films, plays, art exhibits, music presentations, or other cultural activities.

What is the Convention on the Rights of the Child?

In 1989 something incredible happened. Against the backdrop of a changing world order world leaders came together and made a historic commitment to the world’s children. They made a promise to every child to protect and fulfil their rights, by adopting an international legal framework – the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Contained in this treaty is a profound idea: that children are not just objects who belong to their parents and for whom decisions are made, or adults in training. Rather, they are human beings and individuals with their own rights. The Convention says childhood is separate from adulthood, and lasts until 18 it is a special, protected time, in which children must be allowed to grow, learn, play, develop and flourish with dignity. The Convention went on to become the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history and has helped transform children’s lives.

Since ratification of the Convention by the Republic of Tajikistan in 1993, UNICEF in Tajikistan promotes the rights and well-being of every child in the country, with the special focus on those in greatest need.


Tajikistan means the "Land of the Tajiks". The suffix "-stan" is Persian for "place of" [20] or "country" [21] and Tajik is, most likely, the name of a pre-Islamic (before the seventh century AD) tribe. [22]

One of the most prominent Persian dictionaries, the Amid Dictionary, gives the following explanations of the term, according to multiple sources: [23]

  • Neither Arab nor Turk, he who speaks Persian, a Persian-speaking person.
  • An Arab child who is bred in Persia, and thus speaks Persian.

An older dictionary, Qiyas al-lughat, also defines Tajik as "one who is neither a Mongol nor a Turk". [24]

Tajikistan appeared as Tadjikistan or Tadzhikistan in English prior to 1991. This is due to a transliteration from the Russian: "Таджикистан" . In Russian, there is no single letter "j" to represent the phoneme /ʤ/, and therefore дж, or dzh, is used. Tadzhikistan is the most common alternate spelling and is widely used in English literature derived from Russian sources. [25] "Tadjikistan" is the spelling in French and can occasionally be found in English language texts. The way of writing Tajikistan in the Perso-Arabic script is: تاجیکستان .

Even though the Library of Congress's 1997 Country Study of Tajikistan found it difficult to definitively state the origins of the word "Tajik" because the term is "embroiled in twentieth-century political disputes about whether Turkic or Iranian peoples were the original inhabitants of Central Asia." [22] most scholars concluded that contemporary Tajiks are the descendants of ancient Eastern Iranian inhabitants of Central Asia, in particular, the Sogdians and the Bactrians, and possibly other groups, with an admixture of Western Iranian Persians and non-Iranian peoples. [26] [27] According to Richard Nelson Frye, a leading historian of Iranian and Central Asian history, the Persian migration to Central Asia may be considered the beginning of the modern Tajik nation, and ethnic Persians, along with some elements of East-Iranian Bactrians and Sogdians, as the main ancestors of modern Tajiks. [28] In later works, Frye expands on the complexity of the historical origins of the Tajiks. In a 1996 publication, Frye explains that many "factors must be taken into account in explaining the evolution of the peoples whose remnants are the Tajiks in Central Asia" and that "the peoples of Central Asia, whether Iranian or Turkic speaking, have one culture, one religion, one set of social values and traditions with only language separating them." [29]

Regarding Tajiks, the Encyclopædia Britannica states:

The Tajiks are the direct descendants of the Iranian peoples whose continuous presence in Central Asia and northern Afghanistan is attested from the middle of the 1st millennium BC. The ancestors of the Tajiks constituted the core of the ancient population of Khwārezm (Khorezm) and Bactria, which formed part of Transoxania (Sogdiana). Over the course of time, the eastern Iranian dialect that was used by the ancient Tajiks eventually gave way to Farsi, a western dialect spoken in Iran and Afghanistan. [30]

Early history Edit

Cultures in the region have been dated back to at least the 4th millennium BC, including the Bronze Age Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex, the Andronovo cultures and the pro-urban site of Sarazm, a UNESCO World Heritage site. [31]

The earliest recorded history of the region dates back to about 500 BC when much, if not all, of modern Tajikistan, was part of the Achaemenid Empire. [22] Some authors have also suggested that in the 7th and 6th centuries BC, parts of modern Tajikistan, including territories in the Zeravshan valley, formed part of Kambojas before it became part of the Achaemenid Empire. [32] After the region's conquest by Alexander the Great it became part of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, a successor state of Alexander's empire. Northern Tajikistan (the cities of Khujand and Panjakent) was part of Sogdia, a collection of city-states which was overrun by Scythians and Yuezhi nomadic tribes around 150 BC. The Silk Road passed through the region and following the expedition of Chinese explorer Zhang Qian during the reign of Wudi (141BC–87 BC) commercial relations between Han China and Sogdiana flourished. [33] [34] Sogdians played a major role in facilitating trade and also worked in other capacities, as farmers, carpetweavers, glassmakers, and woodcarvers. [35]

The Kushan Empire, a collection of Yuezhi tribes, took control of the region in the first century AD and ruled until the 4th century AD during which time Buddhism, Nestorian Christianity, Zoroastrianism, and Manichaeism were all practised in the region. [36] Later the Hephthalite Empire, a collection of nomadic tribes, moved into the region and Arabs brought Islam in the early eighth century. [36] Central Asia continued in its role as a commercial crossroads, linking China, the steppes to the north, and the Islamic heartland. [ citation needed ]

It was temporarily under the control of the Tibetan empire and Chinese from 650 to 680 and then under the control of the Umayyads in 710.

Samanid Empire Edit

The Samanid Empire, 819 to 999, restored Persian control of the region and enlarged the cities of Samarkand and Bukhara (both cities are today part of Uzbekistan) which became the cultural centers of Iran and the region was known as Khorasan. The empire was centered in Khorasan and Transoxiana at its greatest extent encompassing modern-day Afghanistan, large parts of Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, parts of Kazakhstan, and Pakistan. Four brothers Nuh, Ahmad, Yahya, and Ilyas founded the Samanid state. Each of them ruled territory under Abbasid suzerainty. In 892, Ismail Samani (892–907) united the Samanid state under one ruler, thus effectively putting an end to the feudal system used by the Samanids. It was also under him that the Samanids became independent of Abbasid authority. The Kara-Khanid Khanate conquered Transoxania (which corresponds approximately with modern-day Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, southern Kyrgyzstan, and southwest Kazakhstan) and ruled between 999 and 1211. [37] [38] Their arrival in Transoxania signalled a definitive shift from Iranian to Turkic predominance in Central Asia, [39] but gradually the Kara-khanids became assimilated into the Perso-Arab Muslim culture of the region. [40]

Bukharan Rule Edit

Modern Tajikistan fell under the rule of the Khanate of Bukhara during the 16th century and with the empire's collapse in the 18th century it came under the rule of both the Emirate of Bukhara and Khanate of Kokand. The Emirate of Bukhara remained intact until the 20th century but during the 19th century, for the second time in world history, a European power (the Russian Empire) began to conquer parts of the region. [41]

Russian Tajikistan Edit

Russian Imperialism led to the Russian Empire's conquest of Central Asia during the late 19th century's Imperial Era. Between 1864 and 1885, Russia gradually took control of the entire territory of Russian Turkestan, the Tajikistan portion of which had been controlled by the Emirate of Bukhara and Khanate of Kokand. Russia was interested in gaining access to a supply of cotton and in the 1870s attempted to switch cultivation in the region from grain to cotton (a strategy later copied and expanded by the Soviets). [42] By 1885 Tajikistan's territory was either ruled by the Russian Empire or its vassal state, the Emirate of Bukhara, nevertheless Tajiks felt little Russian influence.

During the late 19th century the Jadidists established themselves as an Islamic social movement throughout the region. Although the Jadidists were pro-modernization and not necessarily anti-Russian, the Russians viewed the movement as a threat because the Russian Empire was predominately Christian. [43] Russian troops were required to restore order during uprisings against the Khanate of Kokand between 1910 and 1913. Further violence occurred in July 1916 when demonstrators attacked Russian soldiers in Khujand over the threat of forced conscription during World War I. Despite Russian troops quickly bringing Khujand back under control, clashes continued throughout the year in various locations in Tajikistan. [44]

Soviet Tajikistan Edit

After the Russian Revolution of 1917 guerrillas throughout Central Asia, known as basmachi, waged a war against Bolshevik armies in a futile attempt to maintain independence. [45] The Bolsheviks prevailed after a four-year war, in which mosques and villages were burned down and the population heavily suppressed. Soviet authorities started a campaign of secularisation. Practising Islam, Judaism, and Christianity was discouraged and repressed, and many mosques, churches, and synagogues were closed. [46] As a consequence of the conflict and Soviet agriculture policies, Central Asia, Tajikistan included, suffered a famine that claimed many lives. [47]

In 1924, the Tajik Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was created as a part of Uzbekistan, [45] but in 1929 the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic (Tajik SSR) was made a separate constituent republic [45] however, the predominantly ethnic Tajik cities of Samarkand and Bukhara remained in the Uzbek SSR. Between 1927 and 1934, collectivisation of agriculture and a rapid expansion of cotton production took place, especially in the southern region. [48] Soviet collectivisation policy brought violence against peasants and forced resettlement occurred throughout Tajikistan. Consequently, some peasants fought collectivisation and revived the Basmachi movement. Some small scale industrial development also occurred during this time along with the expansion of irrigation infrastructure. [48]

Two rounds of Stalin's purges (1927–1934 and 1937–1938) resulted in the expulsion of nearly 10,000 people, from all levels of the Communist Party of Tajikistan. [49] Ethnic Russians were sent in to replace those expelled and subsequently Russians dominated party positions at all levels, including the top position of first secretary. [49] Between 1926 and 1959 the proportion of Russians among Tajikistan's population grew from less than 1% to 13%. [50] Bobojon Ghafurov, First Secretary of the Communist Party of Tajikistan from 1946 to 1956, was the only Tajik politician of significance outside of the country during the Soviet Era. [51] He was followed in office by Tursun Uljabayev (1956–61), Jabbor Rasulov (1961–1982), and Rahmon Nabiyev (1982–1985, 1991–1992).

Tajiks began to be conscripted into the Soviet Army in 1939 and during World War II around 260,000 Tajik citizens fought against Germany, Finland and Japan. Between 60,000 (4%) [52] and 120,000 (8%) [53] of Tajikistan's 1,530,000 citizens were killed during World War II. [54] Following the war and Stalin's reign, attempts were made to further expand the agriculture and industry of Tajikistan. [51] During 1957–58 Nikita Khrushchev's Virgin Lands Campaign focused attention on Tajikistan, where living conditions, education and industry lagged behind the other Soviet Republics. [51] In the 1980s, Tajikistan had the lowest household saving rate in the USSR, [55] the lowest percentage of households in the two top per capita income groups, [56] and the lowest rate of university graduates per 1000 people. [57] By the late 1980s Tajik nationalists were calling for increased rights. Real disturbances did not occur within the republic until 1990. The following year, the Soviet Union collapsed, and Tajikistan declared its independence on 9 September 1991, a day which is now celebrated as the country's Independence Day. [58]

Gaining independence Edit

In Soviet times, supporters of Tajikistan independence were harshly persecuted by the KGB, and most were shot and jailed for long years. After the beginning of the Perestroika era, declared by Mikhail Gorbachev throughout the USSR, supporters of the independence of the republics began to speak openly and freely. In Tajikistan SSR, the independence movement has been active since 1987. Supporters of independence were the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, the Democratic Party of Tajikistan and the national democratic Rastokhez (Revival) Movement. On the eve of the collapse of the USSR, the population of Tajikistan SSR was divided into two camps. The first wanted independence for Tajikistan, the restoration of Tajik culture and language, the restoration of political and cultural relations with Iran and Afghanistan and other countries, and the second part of the population opposed independence, considering it the best option to remain part of the USSR. Opposed independence mainly Russian-speaking population of Tajikistan.

Since February 1990, there have been riots and strikes in Dushanbe (1990 Dushanbe riots) [45] and other cities of Tajikistan due to the difficult socio-economic situation, lack of housing, and youth unemployment. The nationalist and democratic opposition and supporters of independence joined the strikes and began to demand the independence of the republic and democratic reforms. Islamists also began to hold strikes and demand respect for their rights and independence of the republic. The Soviet leadership introduced Internal Troops in Dushanbe to eliminate the unrest. [45]

Independence Edit

The nation almost immediately fell into civil war that involved various factions fighting one another these factions were often distinguished by clan loyalties. [59] More than 500,000 residents fled during this time because of persecution, increased poverty and better economic opportunities in the West or in other former Soviet republics. [60] Emomali Rahmon came to power in 1992, [45] defeating former prime minister Abdumalik Abdullajanov in a November presidential election with 58% of the vote. [61] The elections took place shortly after the end of the war, and Tajikistan was in a state of complete devastation. The estimated dead numbered over 100,000. Around 1.2 million people were refugees inside and outside of the country. [59] In 1997, a ceasefire was reached between Rahmon and opposition parties under the guidance of Gerd D. Merrem, [45] Special Representative to the Secretary General, a result widely praised as a successful United Nations peacekeeping initiative. The ceasefire guaranteed 30% of ministerial positions would go to the opposition. [62] Elections were held in 1999, though they were criticised by opposition parties and foreign observers as unfair and Rahmon was re-elected with 98% of the vote. [45] Elections in 2006 were again won by Rahmon (with 79% of the vote) and he began his third term in office. Several opposition parties boycotted the 2006 election and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) criticised it, although observers from the Commonwealth of Independent States claimed the elections were legal and transparent. [63] [64] Rahmon's administration came under further criticism from the OSCE in October 2010 for its censorship and repression of the media. The OSCE claimed that the Tajik Government censored Tajik and foreign websites and instituted tax inspections on independent printing houses that led to the cessation of printing activities for a number of independent newspapers. [65]

Russian border troops were stationed along the Tajik–Afghan border until summer 2005. Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, French troops have been stationed at the Dushanbe Airport in support of air operations of NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. United States Army and Marine Corps personnel periodically visit Tajikistan to conduct joint training missions of up to several weeks duration. The Government of India rebuilt the Ayni Air Base, a military airport located 15 km southwest of Dushanbe, at a cost of $70 million, completing the repairs in September 2010. [66] It is now the main base of the Tajikistan air force. There have been talks with Russia concerning use of the Ayni facility, [67] and Russia continues to maintain a large base on the outskirts of Dushanbe. [68]

In 2010, there were concerns among Tajik officials that Islamic militarism in the east of the country was on the rise following the escape of 25 militants from a Tajik prison in August, an ambush that killed 28 Tajik soldiers in the Rasht Valley in September, [69] and another ambush in the valley in October that killed 30 soldiers, [70] followed by fighting outside Gharm that left 3 militants dead. To date the country's Interior Ministry asserts that the central government maintains full control over the country's east, and the military operation in the Rasht Valley was concluded in November 2010. [71] However, fighting erupted again in July 2012. [72] In 2015, Russia sent more troops to Tajikistan. [73]

In May 2015, Tajikistan's national security suffered a serious setback when Colonel Gulmurod Khalimov, commander of the special-purpose police unit (OMON) of the Interior Ministry, defected to the Islamic State. [45] [74]

Almost immediately after independence, Tajikistan was plunged into a civil war that saw various factions fighting one another. These factions were supported by foreign countries including Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Russia. Russia and Iran focused on keeping peace in the warring nation to decrease the chances of U.S. or Turkish involvement. Most notably, Russia backed the pro-government faction and deployed troops from the Commonwealth of Independent States to guard the Tajikistan-Afghan border. [75] All but 25,000 of the more than 400,000 ethnic Russians, who were mostly employed in industry, fled to Russia. By 1997, the war had ended after a peace agreement between the government and the Islamist-led opposition, a central government began to take form, with peaceful elections in 1999. [76]

"Longtime observers of Tajikistan often characterize the country as profoundly averse to risk and skeptical of promises of reform, a political passivity they trace to the country's ruinous civil war," Ilan Greenberg wrote in a news article in The New York Times just before the country's November 2006 presidential election. [77]

Tajikistan is officially a republic, and holds elections for the presidency and parliament, operating under a presidential system. It is, however, a dominant-party system, where the People's Democratic Party of Tajikistan routinely has a vast majority in Parliament. Emomali Rahmon has held the office of President of Tajikistan continuously since November 1994. The Prime Minister is Kokhir Rasulzoda, the First Deputy Prime Minister is Matlubkhon Davlatov and the two Deputy Prime Ministers are Murodali Alimardon and Ruqiya Qurbanova.

The parliamentary elections of 2005 aroused many accusations from opposition parties and international observers that President Emomali Rahmon corruptly manipulates the election process and unemployment. The most recent elections, in February 2010, saw the ruling PDPT lose four seats in Parliament, yet still maintain a comfortable majority. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe election observers said the 2010 polling "failed to meet many key OSCE commitments" and that "these elections failed on many basic democratic standards." [78] [79] The government insisted that only minor violations had occurred, which would not affect the will of the Tajik people. [78] [79]

The Tajik government has reportedly clamped down on facial hair as part of a crackdown on Islamic influence and due to its perceived associations with Islamic extremism, which is prevalent in bordering Afghanistan. [80] [81]

The presidential election held on 6 November 2006 was boycotted by "mainline" opposition parties, including the 23,000-member Islamic Renaissance Party. Four remaining opponents "all but endorsed the incumbent", Rahmon. [77] Tajikistan gave Iran its support in Iran's membership bid to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, after a meeting between the Tajik President and the Iranian foreign minister. [82]

Freedom of the press is ostensibly officially guaranteed by the government, but independent press outlets remain restricted, as does a substantial amount of web content. [83] According to the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, access is blocked to local and foreign websites including avesta.tj, Tjknews.com, ferghana.ru, centrasia.org and journalists are often obstructed from reporting on controversial events. In practice, no public criticism of the regime is tolerated and all direct protest is severely suppressed and does not receive coverage in the local media. [84]

In the Economist's democracy index report of 2020, Tajikistan is placed 160th, just after Saudi Arabia, as an "authoritarian regime". [85]

In July 2019, UN ambassadors of 37 countries, including Tajikistan, have signed a joint letter to the UNHRC defending China's treatment of Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region. [86]

In October 2020, President Emomali Rahmon was re-elected for next seven-year period with 90 per cent of the votes. [87]

Tajikistan is landlocked, and is the smallest nation in Central Asia by area. It lies mostly between latitudes 36° and 41° N, and longitudes 67° and 75° E. It is covered by mountains of the Pamir range, and most of the country is over 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) above sea level. The only major areas of lower land are in the north (part of the Fergana Valley), and in the southern Kofarnihon and Vakhsh river valleys, which form the Amu Darya. Dushanbe is located on the southern slopes above the Kofarnihon valley.

Mountain Height Location
Ismoil Somoni Peak (highest) 7,495 m 24,590 ft North-western edge of Gorno-Badakhshan (GBAO), south of the Kyrgyz border
Ibn Sina Peak (Lenin Peak) 7,134 m 23,537 ft Northern border in the Trans-Alay Range, north-east of Ismoil Somoni Peak
Peak Korzhenevskaya 7,105 m 23,310 ft North of Ismoil Somoni Peak, on the south bank of Muksu River
Independence Peak (Revolution Peak) 6,974 m 22,881 ft Central Gorno-Badakhshan, south-east of Ismoil Somoni Peak
Academy of Sciences Range 6,785 m 22,260 ft North-western Gorno-Badakhshan, stretches in the north–south direction
Karl Marx Peak 6,726 m 22,067 ft GBAO, near the border to Afghanistan in the northern ridge of the Karakoram Range
Garmo Peak 6,595 m 21,637 ft Northwestern Gorno-Badakhshan.
Mayakovskiy Peak 6,096 m 20,000 ft Extreme south-west of GBAO, near the border to Afghanistan.
Concord Peak 5,469 m 17,943 ft Southern border in the northern ridge of the Karakoram Range
Kyzylart Pass 4,280 m 14,042 ft Northern border in the Trans-Alay Range

The Amu Darya and Panj rivers mark the border with Afghanistan, and the glaciers in Tajikistan's mountains are the major source of runoff for the Aral Sea. There are over 900 rivers in Tajikistan longer than 10 kilometres.

Administrative divisions Edit

Tajikistan consists of 4 administrative divisions. These are the provinces (viloyat) of Sughd and Khatlon, the autonomous province of Gorno-Badakhshan (abbreviated as GBAO), and the Region of Republican Subordination (RRP – Raiony Respublikanskogo Podchineniya in transliteration from Russian or NTJ – Ноҳияҳои тобеи ҷумҳурӣ in Tajik formerly known as Karotegin Province). Each region is divided into several districts (Tajik: Ноҳия , nohiya or raion), which in turn are subdivided into jamoats (village-level self-governing units) and then villages (qyshloqs). As of 2006 [update] , there were 58 districts and 367 jamoats in Tajikistan. [88]

Division ISO 3166-2 Map No Capital Area (km 2 ) [88] Pop. (2019) [89]
Sughd TJ-SU 1 Khujand 25,400 2,658,400
Region of Republican Subordination TJ-RR 2 Dushanbe 28,600 2,122,000
Khatlon TJ-KT 3 Qurghonteppa 24,800 3,274,900
Gorno-Badakhshan TJ-GB 4 Khorugh 64,200 226,900
Dushanbe Dushanbe 124.6 846,400

Lakes Edit

About 2% of the country's area is covered by lakes, the best known of which are the following:

Biodiversity Edit

In 2019, nearly 29% of Tajikistan's GDP comes from immigrant remittances (mostly from Tajiks working in Russia). One of the highest rates in the world. [91] [92] [93] The current economic situation remains fragile, largely owing to corruption, uneven economic reforms, and economic mismanagement. With foreign revenue precariously dependent upon remittances from migrant workers overseas and exports of aluminium and cotton, the economy is highly vulnerable to external shocks. In FY 2000, international assistance remained an essential source of support for rehabilitation programs that reintegrated former civil war combatants into the civilian economy, which helped keep the peace. International assistance also was necessary to address the second year of severe drought that resulted in a continued shortfall of food production. On 21 August 2001, the Red Cross announced that a famine was striking Tajikistan, and called for international aid for Tajikistan and Uzbekistan [94] however, access to food remains a problem today. In January 2012, 680,152 of the people living in Tajikistan were living with food insecurity. Out of those, 676,852 were at risk of Phase 3 (Acute Food and Livelihoods Crisis) food insecurity, and 3,300 were at risk of Phase 4 (Humanitarian Emergency). Those with the highest risk of food insecurity were living in the remote Murghob District of GBAO. [95]

Tajikistan's economy grew substantially after the war. The GDP of Tajikistan expanded at an average rate of 9.6% over the period of 2000–2007 according to the World Bank data. This improved Tajikistan's position among other Central Asian countries (namely Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan), which seem to have degraded economically ever since. [96] The primary sources of income in Tajikistan are aluminium production, cotton growing and remittances from migrant workers. [97] Cotton accounts for 60% of agricultural output, supporting 75% of the rural population, and using 45% of irrigated arable land. [98] The aluminium industry is represented by the state-owned Tajik Aluminum Company – the biggest aluminium plant in Central Asia and one of the biggest in the world. [99]

Tajikistan's rivers, such as the Vakhsh and the Panj, have great hydropower potential, and the government has focused on attracting investment for projects for internal use and electricity exports. Tajikistan is home to the Nurek Dam, the second highest dam in the world. [100] Lately, Russia's RAO UES energy giant has been working on the Sangtuda-1 hydroelectric power station (670 MW capacity) commenced operations on 18 January 2008. [101] [102] Other projects at the development stage include Sangtuda-2 by Iran, Zerafshan by the Chinese company SinoHydro, and the Rogun power plant that, at a projected height of 335 metres (1,099 ft), would supersede the Nurek Dam as highest in the world if it is brought to completion. [103] [104] A planned project, CASA-1000, will transmit 1000 MW of surplus electricity from Tajikistan to Pakistan with power transit through Afghanistan. The total length of transmission line is 750 km while the project is planned to be on Public-Private Partnership basis with the support of WB, IFC, ADB and IDB. The project cost is estimated to be around US$865 million. [105] Other energy resources include sizeable coal deposits and smaller, relatively unexplored reserves of natural gas and petroleum. [106]

In 2014 Tajikistan was the world's most remittance-dependent economy with remittances accounting for 49% of GDP and expected to fall by 40% in 2015 due to the economic crisis in the Russian Federation. [107] Tajik migrant workers abroad, mainly in the Russian Federation, have become by far the main source of income for millions of Tajikistan's people [108] and with the 2014–2015 downturn in the Russian economy the World Bank has predicted large numbers of young Tajik men will return home and face few economic prospects. [107]

According to some estimates about 20% of the population lives on less than US$1.25 per day. [109] Migration from Tajikistan and the consequent remittances have been unprecedented in their magnitude and economic impact. In 2010, remittances from Tajik labour migrants totalled an estimated $2.1 billion US dollars, an increase from 2009. Tajikistan has achieved transition from a planned to a market economy without substantial and protracted recourse to aid (of which it by now receives only negligible amounts), and by purely market-based means, simply by exporting its main commodity of comparative advantage — cheap labour. [110] The World Bank Tajikistan Policy Note 2006 concludes that remittances have played an important role as one of the drivers of Tajikistan's economic growth during the past several years, have increased incomes, and as a result helped significantly reduce poverty. [111]

Drug trafficking is the major illegal source of income in Tajikistan [112] as it is an important transit country for Afghan narcotics bound for Russian and, to a lesser extent, Western European markets some opium poppy is also raised locally for the domestic market. [113] However, with the increasing assistance from international organisations, such as UNODC, and co-operation with the US, Russian, EU and Afghan authorities a level of progress on the fight against illegal drug-trafficking is being achieved. [114] Tajikistan holds third place in the world for heroin and raw opium confiscations (1216.3 kg of heroin and 267.8 kg of raw opium in the first half of 2006). [115] [116] Drug money corrupts the country's government according to some experts the well-known personalities that fought on both sides of the civil war and have held the positions in the government after the armistice was signed are now involved in the drug trade. [113] UNODC is working with Tajikistan to strengthen border crossings, provide training, and set up joint interdiction teams. It also helped to establish Tajikistani Drug Control Agency. [117] Tajikistan is also an active member of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO).

Besides Russia, China is one of the major economic and trade partners of Dushanbe. Tajikistan belongs to the group of countries with a high debt trap risk associated with Chinese investment within the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) meaning that excessive reliance on Chinese loans may weaken country's ability to manage its external debt in a sustainable way. [118]

In 2013 Tajikistan, like many of the other Central Asian countries, was experiencing major development in its transportation sector.

As a landlocked country, Tajikistan has no ports and the majority of transportation is via roads, air, and rail. In recent years Tajikistan has pursued agreements with Iran and Pakistan to gain port access in those countries via Afghanistan. In 2009, an agreement was made between Tajikistan, Pakistan, and Afghanistan to improve and build a 1,300 km (810 mi) highway and rail system connecting the three countries to Pakistan's ports. The proposed route would go through the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province in the eastern part of the country. [119] And in 2012, the presidents of Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Iran signed an agreement to construct roads and railways as well as oil, gas, and water pipelines to connect the three countries. [120]

Rail Edit

The railroad system totals only 680 kilometres (420 mi) of track, [115] all of it 1,520 mm ( 4 ft 11 + 27 ⁄ 32 in ) broad gauge. The principal segments are in the southern region and connect the capital with the industrial areas of the Hisor and Vakhsh valleys and with Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Russia. [121] Most international freight traffic is carried by train. [122] The recently constructed Qurghonteppa–Kulob railway connected the Kulob District with the central area of the country. [122]

Air Edit

In 2009 Tajikistan had 26 airports, 18 of which had paved runways, of which two had runways longer than 3,000 meters. [115] The country's main airport is Dushanbe International Airport, which as of April 2015 had regularly scheduled flights to major cities in Russia, Central Asia, as well as Delhi, Dubai, Frankfurt, Istanbul, Kabul, Tehran, and Ürümqi, amongst others. There are also international flights, mainly to Russia, from Khujand Airport in the northern part of the country as well as limited international services from Kulob Airport, and Qurghonteppa International Airport. Khorog Airport is a domestic airport and also the only airport in the sparsely populated eastern half of the country.

Tajikistan has one major airline (Somon Air) and is also serviced by over a dozen foreign airlines.

Roads Edit

The total length of roads in the country is 27,800 kilometres. Automobiles account for more than 90% of the total volume of passenger transportation and more than 80% of domestic freight transportation. [122]

In 2004 the Tajik–Afghan Friendship Bridge between Afghanistan and Tajikistan was built, improving the country's access to South Asia. The bridge was built by the United States. [123]

As of 2014 [update] many highway and tunnel construction projects are underway or have recently been completed. Major projects include rehabilitation of the Dushanbe – Chanak (Uzbek border), Dushanbe – Kulma (Chinese border), and Kurgan-Tube – Nizhny Pyanj (Afghan border) highways, and construction of tunnels under the mountain passes of Anzob, Shakhristan, Shar-Shar [124] and Chormazak. [125] These were supported by international donor countries. [122] [126]

Tajikistan has a population of 9,275,832 people, of which 70% are under the age of 30 and 35% are between the ages of 14 and 30. [93] Tajiks who speak Tajik (a dialect of Persian) are the main ethnic group, although there are sizeable minorities of Uzbeks and Russians, whose numbers are declining due to emigration. [130] The Pamiris of Badakhshan, a small population of Yaghnobi people, and a sizeable minority of Ismailis are all considered to belong to the larger group of Tajiks. All citizens of Tajikistan are called Tajikistanis. [115]

In 1989, ethnic Russians in Tajikistan made up 7.6% of the population by 1998 the proportion had reduced to approximately 0.5% following the Tajikistani Civil War which had displaced the majority of ethnic Russians. Following the end of the war, Russian emigration continued. [131] The ethnic German population of Tajikistan has also declined due to emigration: having topped at 38,853 in 1979, it has almost vanished since the collapse of the Soviet Union. [132]

Languages Edit

The two official languages of Tajikistan are Russian as the interethnic language and Tajik as the state language, as understood in Article 2 of the Constitution: "The state language of Tajikistan shall be Tajik. Russian shall be the language of international communication." [133]

The state (national) language (Russian: государственный язык Tajik: забони давлатӣ ) of the Republic of Tajikistan is Tajik, which is written in the Tajik Cyrillic alphabet. Several linguists recognise the fact that the Tajik language is a variant of the Persian language (or Farsi). Therefore, Tajik speakers have no problems communicating with Persian speakers from Iran and Dari speakers from Afghanistan. Several million native Tajik speakers also live in neighboring Uzbekistan and Russia. [134]

According to article 2 of the Constitution of the Republic of Tajikistan, [135] Russian language is recognized as the second official language of Tajikistan the official language of inter-ethnic communication (Russian: язык межнационального общения Tajik: забони муоширати байни миллатҳо ) in the country. [136] [137] Russian had previously lost its official status after Tajikistan's independence in late 1991, which was then restored with the Constitution. Approximately 90% of the population of Tajikistan speaks Russian at various levels. The varieties of Russian spoken in Tajikistan are referred to by scholars as Tajik(istani) Russian [138] and it shares some similarities with Uzbek(istani) Russian, such as morphological differences and the lexical differences like the use of words урюк [139] for a wild apricot or кислушка for rhubarb. [140] Previously, from the creation of the Tajikistan SSR until Tajik became the official language of the Tajikistan Soviet Socialist Republic on July 22, 1989, the only official language of the republic was the Russian language, and the Tajik language had only the status of the “national language”.

The highly educated part of the population of Tajikistan, as well as the Intelligentsia, prefer to speak Russian and Persian, the pronunciation of which in Tajikistan is called the “Iranian style”. [141] [136] [137]

Apart from Russian, Uzbek language is actually the second most widely spoken language in Tajikistan after Tajik. Native Uzbek speakers live in the north and west of Tajikistan. In the fourth place (after Tajik, Russian and Uzbek) by the number of native speakers are various Pamir languages whose native speakers live in Kuhistani Badakshshan Autonomus Region. The majority of Zoroastrian in Tajikistan speak it in the Pamir languages. Native speakers of the Kyrgyz language live in the north of Kuhistani Badakshshan Autonomus Region. Yagnobi language speakers live in the west of the country. The Parya language of local Romani people (Central Asian Gypsies) is also widely spoken in Tajikistan. Tajikistan also has small communities of native speakers of Persian, Arabic, Pashto, Eastern Armenian, Azerbaijani, Tatar, Turkmen, Kazakh, Chinese, Ukrainian. [142]

Among foreign languages, the most popular is English, which is taught in schools in Tajikistan as one of the foreign languages. Some young people, as well as those working in the tourism sector of Tajikistan, speak English at different levels. Of the European languages, there are also a sufficient number of native speakers of German Citation needed and French Citation needed . Many among the Uzbek population learn Turkish in addition to Russian.

Employment Edit

In 2009 nearly one million Tajiks worked abroad (mainly in Russia). [143] More than 70% of the female population lives in traditional villages. [144]

Culture Edit

The Tajik language is the mother tongue of around 80% of the citizens of Tajikistan. The main urban centres in today's Tajikistan include Dushanbe (the capital), Khujand, Kulob, Panjakent, Qurghonteppa, Khorugh and Istaravshan. There are also Uzbek, Kyrgyz and Russian minorities. [145]

The Pamiri people of Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province in the southeast, bordering Afghanistan and China, though considered part of the Tajik ethnicity, nevertheless are distinct linguistically and culturally from most Tajiks. In contrast to the mostly Sunni Muslim residents of the rest of Tajikistan, the Pamiris overwhelmingly follow the Ismaili branch of Shia Islam, and speak a number of Eastern Iranian languages, including Shughni, Rushani, Khufi and Wakhi. Isolated in the highest parts of the Pamir Mountains, they have preserved many ancient cultural traditions and folk arts that have been largely lost elsewhere in the country.

The Yaghnobi people live in mountainous areas of northern Tajikistan. The estimated number of Yaghnobis is now about 25,000. Forced migrations in the 20th century decimated their numbers. They speak the Yaghnobi language, which is the only direct modern descendant of the ancient Sogdian language. [146]

Tajikistan artisans created the Dushanbe Tea House, which was presented in 1988 as a gift to the sister city of Boulder, Colorado. [147]

Religion Edit

Sunni Islam of the Hanafi school has been officially recognised by the government since 2009. [150] Tajikistan considers itself a secular state with a Constitution providing for freedom of religion. The Government has declared two Islamic holidays, Eid ul-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, as state holidays. According to a US State Department release and Pew research group, the population of Tajikistan is 98% Muslim. Approximately 87%–95% of them are Sunni and roughly 3% are Shia and roughly 7% are non-denominational Muslims. [151] [152] The remaining 2% of the population are followers of Russian Orthodoxy, Protestantism, Zoroastrianism and Buddhism. Many Muslims fast during Ramadan, although only about one third in the countryside and 10% in the cities observe daily prayer and dietary restrictions. [ citation needed ]

Bukharan Jews had lived in Tajikistan since the 2nd century BC, but today almost none are left. In the 1940s, the Jewish community of Tajikistan numbered nearly 30,000 people. Most were Persian-speaking Bukharan Jews who had lived in the region for millennia along with Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern Europe who resettled there in the Soviet era. The Jewish population is now estimated at less than 500, about half of whom live in Dushanbe. [153]

Relationships between religious groups are generally amicable, although there is some concern among mainstream Muslim leaders [ who? ] that minority religious groups undermine national unity. There is a concern for religious institutions becoming active in the political sphere. The Islamic Renaissance Party (IRP), a major combatant in the 1992–1997 Civil War and then-proponent of the creation of an Islamic state in Tajikistan, constitutes no more than 30% of the government by statute. Membership in Hizb ut-Tahrir, a militant Islamic party which today aims for an overthrow of secular governments and the unification of Tajiks under one Islamic state, is illegal and members are subject to arrest and imprisonment. [154] Numbers of large mosques appropriate for Friday prayers are limited and some [ who? ] feel this is discriminatory.

By law, religious communities must register by the State Committee on Religious Affairs (SCRA) and with local authorities. Registration with the SCRA requires a charter, a list of 10 or more members, and evidence of local government approval prayer site location. Religious groups that do not have a physical structure are not allowed to gather publicly for prayer. Failure to register can result in large fines and closure of a place of worship. There are reports that registration on the local level is sometimes difficult to obtain. [155] People under the age of 18 are also barred from public religious practice. [156]

As of January 2016, as part of an "anti-radicalisation campaign", police in the Khatlon region reportedly shaved the beards of 13,000 men and shut down 160 shops selling the hijab. Shaving beards and discouraging women from wearing hijab is part of a government campaign targeting trends that are deemed "alien and inconsistent with Tajik culture", and "to preserve secular traditions". [157]

Today, approximately 1.6% of the population in Tajikistan is Christian, mostly Orthodox Christians. [148] [149]

Despite repeated efforts by the Tajik government to improve and expand health care, the system remains among the most underdeveloped and poor, with severe shortages of medical supplies. The state's Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare reported that 104,272 disabled people are registered in Tajikistan (2000). This group of people suffers most from poverty in Tajikistan. The government of Tajikistan and the World Bank considered activities to support this part of the population described in the World Bank's Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper. [159] Public expenditure on health was at 1% of the GDP in 2004. [160]

Life expectancy at birth was estimated to be 69 years in 2020. [161] The infant mortality rate was approximately 30.42 deaths per 1,000 children in 2018. [162] In 2014, there were 2.1 physicians per 1,000 people, higher than any other low-income country after North Korea. [163]

Tajikistan has experienced a sharp decrease in number of per capita hospital beds following the dissolution of the USSR (since 1992), even though the number still remains relatively at 4.8 beds per 1,000 people, well above the world average of 2.7 and one of the highest among other low-income countries. [164]

According to World Bank, 96% of births are attended by skilled health staff, a figure which has risen from 66.6% in 1999. [165]

In 2010 the country experienced an outbreak of polio that caused more than 457 cases of polio in both children and adults and resulted in 29 deaths before being brought under control. [166]

Despite its poverty, Tajikistan has a high rate of literacy due to the old Soviet system of free education, with an estimated 99.8% [167] of the population having the ability to read and write. [115]

Public education in Tajikistan consists of 11 years of primary and secondary education but the government planned to implement a 12-year system in 2016. [168] There is a relatively large number of tertiary education institutions including Khujand State University which has 76 departments in 15 faculties, [168] Tajikistan State University of Law, Business, & Politics, Khorugh State University, Agricultural University of Tajikistan, Tajik National University, and several other institutions. Most, but not all, universities were established during the Soviet Era. As of 2008 [update] tertiary education enrollment was 17%, significantly below the sub-regional average of 37%, [169] although higher than any other low-income country after Syria. [170] Many Tajiks left the education system due to low demand in the labour market for people with extensive educational training or professional skills. [169]

Public spending on education was relatively constant between 2005–2012 and fluctuated from 3.5% to 4.1% of GDP [171] significantly below the OECD average of 6%. [169] The United Nations reported that the level of spending was "severely inadequate to meet the requirements of the country's high-needs education system." [169]

According to a UNICEF-supported survey, about 25 percent of girls in Tajikistan fail to complete compulsory primary education because of poverty and gender bias, [172] although literacy is generally high in Tajikistan. [160] Estimates of out of school children range from 4.6% to 19.4% with the vast majority being girls. [169]

In September 2017, the University of Central Asia will launch its second campus in Khorog, Tajikistan, offering majors in Earth & Environmental Sciences and Economics. [173]

The national sport of Tajikistan is gushtigiri, a form of traditional wrestling. [174] [175]

Another popular sport is buzkashi, a game played on horseback, like polo. One plays it on one's own and in teams. The aim of the game is to grab a 50 kg dead goat, ride clear of the other players, get back to the starting point and drop it in a designated circle. It is also practised in Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. It is often played at Nowruz celebrations. [176]

Tajikistan's mountains provide many opportunities for outdoor sports, such as hill-climbing, mountain biking, rock climbing, skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and mountain climbing. The facilities are limited, however. Mountain climbing and hiking tours to the Fann and Pamir Mountains, including the 7,000 m peaks in the region, are seasonally organised by local and international alpine agencies.

Football is the most popular sport in Tajikistan. It is governed by the Tajikistan Football Federation. The Tajikistan national football team competes in FIFA and AFC competitions. The top clubs in Tajikistan compete in the Tajik League. [177] [174]

The Tajikistan Cricket Federation was formed in 2012 as the governing body for the sport of cricket in Tajikistan. It was granted affiliate membership of the Asian Cricket Council in the same year. [178]

Rugby union in Tajikistan is a minor but growing sport. [177] In 2008, the sport was officially registered with the Ministry of Justice, and there are currently 3 men's clubs. [179]

Four Tajikistani athletes have won Olympic medals for their country since independence. They are: wrestler Yusup Abdusalomov (silver in Beijing 2008), judoka Rasul Boqiev (bronze in Beijing 2008), boxer Mavzuna Chorieva (bronze in London 2012) and hammer thrower Dilshod Nazarov (gold in Rio de Janeiro 2016).

Khorugh, capital of Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region, is the location of highest altitude where bandy has been played. [180]

Tajikistan has also one ski resort, called Safed Dara (formerly Takob), near the town of Varzob. [181]

Political Regime Type

Tajikistan is not a democratic country wherein the fundamental rights of citizens are respected, or wherein independence and separation of powers exist. It is instead ruled by a fully authoritarian regime, under which there is no guarantee of independence in the administration of justice or respect for fundamental rights.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Tajikistan declared independence in 1991. A bloody civil war ensued almost immediately, displacing between 10 to 20% of the population, and resulting in tens of thousands of casualties, including many civilians, with some estimates indicating the death toll to be much higher.

Emomali Rahmon emerged as a key figure during the war, first becoming Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Tajikistan in 1992, and then president in 1994 when a new constitution created the presidency.

Rahmon has been in power since, having been re-elected to serve consecutive seven-year terms in 1999, 2006, and 2013. Rahmon was “elected” to his fourth term on November 6, 2013, with over 83% of the vote , facing no serious opposition candidates. While the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe did not monitor the 1999 election, its reports on both the 2006 and 2013 elections concluded that Tajikistan’s elections did not meet international standards or offer voters any meaningful choice.

In addition to having been elected in unfree and unfair elections, Rahmon has rigged referendums and used constitutional amendments to maintain his hold on power, including a 2016 referendum which resulted in the elimination of presidential terms limits and of faith-based political parties, including the opposition Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan .

Furthermore, it lowered the age to be eligible to run for president, paving the way for Rahmon’s son , Rustam Rahmon, to run in the 2020 presidential election . This was most recently evident on April 17, 2020 when Rustam was appointed chairman of the Tajik parliament’s upper chamber, the second-highest position in the country. This news has all but cemented Rustam’s appointment as president, should his father resign or be unable to carry out his presidential duties.

The use of legal artifices, such as constitutional amendments, is a tactic that provides a façade of legitimacy to Tajikistan’s regime, despite the lack of independence of the judiciary. Unlike a democracy – in which the separation of powers is promoted as a guarantee of independence that prevents, among other things, the concentration of power in decision-making – in Tajikistan, the judicial system is subservient to Rahmon. Acquittal in a trial is exceptionally rare , due process rights are often ignored, and there is little transparency in criminal proceedings, especially in trials involving members of the political opposition. Critics of the regime are often targeted and arbitrarily charged with crimes, as are members of their families , and allegations of torture and extrajudicial killings within the prison system are widespread.

Unable to hold the regime accountable for its abuses, the opposition and civil society are confronted with many obstacles, especially as they relate to the freedom of association and assembly.

While these rights are formally protected by the constitution, in practice, the regime prevents them from being exercised by tightly restricting the ability of the opposition to stage demonstrations no protests may take place without the permission of local governments, and activists cannot easily organize without fear of retribution from the regime.

Civil society organizations and NGOs cannot operate without significant regime interference. Likewise, freedom of expression is heavily curtailed by the regime, and the media cannot operate independently . Freedom of religion is also heavily restricted in its 2019 annual report, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom classified Tajikistan as a “ Country of Particular Concern ” with regard to religious freedoms.

Tajikistan - Political rights index

Source: Freedom House. 1 - the highest degree of freedom.

What is Tajikistan political rights index?

Date Value Change, %
2018 7.00 0.00%
2017 7.00 0.00%
2016 7.00 0.00%
2015 7.00 16.67%
2014 6.00 0.00%
2013 6.00 0.00%
2012 6.00 0.00%
2011 6.00 0.00%
2010 6.00 0.00%
2009 6.00 0.00%
2008 6.00 0.00%
2007 6.00

See also

© 2011-2021 Knoema. All rights reserved.

Our Privacy Statement & Cookie Policy

Okay to continue Our website uses cookies to improve your online experience. They were placed on your computer when you launched this website. You can change your personal cookie settings through your internet browser settings.

The International Community Must Put a Spotlight on Tajikistan’s Human Rights Record

Silencing opposition figures, independent voices, and those defending the detained — a spotlight must be shone on the Tajik government’s human rights record.

President Emomali Rahmon has led Tajikistan since shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union. As Central Asia’s longest-serving president currently in power, he has long faced allegations that his rule has been facilitated — at least in part — by silencing dissent through the perpetration of human rights violations.

However, throughout Rahmon’s rule, it has been difficult to attract sufficient international attention to these violations and hold the government of Tajikistan fully accountable for its actions. While a multitude of credible reports have been written by governments, international organizations and non-governmental organizations implicating the government of Tajikistan in human rights violations, they all too often fail to gain the necessary traction to foment change within its borders.

This occurs for several reasons. First, Tajikistan is located in Central Asia, one of the least known areas of the world, politically and otherwise. It is hard to garner adequate attention for change when people are unfamiliar with a country’s geographical location, history, culture, and people.

Further, Tajikistan exists in the shadow of geopolitical giants — China and the Russian Federation — leading international interest to focus on Tajikistan through the lens of its relations with these two countries. Indeed, as a former Soviet state, it has traditionally been considered within the so-called Russian sphere of influence. This has had a deleterious effect on its human rights compliance, as Russia routinely overlooks such violations in place of other priorities. Finally, Tajikistan lacks a vibrant export industry, is not located in a highly valuable geostrategic location, and is small (in both population and territory).

For these reasons and others, the international community often fails to fully scrutinize allegations of human rights violations in Tajikistan and, for those that do, demand change (with concomitant consequences for failing to do so). This is concerning and must change, as the government appears to be escalating its violations in recent years with marked effects on the future of Tajik citizens.

This escalation includes the silencing of opposition viewpoints and voices. The U.S. Department of State noted that “ in 2018[,] the government reported 239 prisoners who were members of banned political parties or movements .” This includes the imprisonment of members of the country’s most important opposition party, the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), which has been effectively eliminated from public discourse and politics since 2015 (through imprisonment and other illegal acts). This, as well as other activities to silent opposition parties and persons, appears to have achieved the government’s goal, a claim succinctly made by the government itself in 2015 when it noted via the vehicle of prepared sermons that “ [i]n Tajikistan, there should be only one party .”

Human rights defenders in-country have been silenced as well. The U.S. government supported this assertion in a 2016 statement , noting that there had been an “increase in the number of politically-motivated detentions and incarcerations of human rights defenders…in the name of national security and stability.”

Diplomat Brief

Weekly Newsletter

Get briefed on the story of the week, and developing stories to watch across the Asia-Pacific.

Beyond opposition figures and human rights defenders, the Tajikistan government has sought to silence independent viewpoints as well. This was highlighted recently through the government’s efforts to deny accreditation to Radio Ozodi (the Tajik service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty). While the U.S. government and others eventually intervened, the government of Tajikistan had ostensibly sought to take away one of the few remaining independent voices in the country. Further examples identified by governments, international organizations, and the media exist and have been detailed in recent years with increasing frequency.

This silencing appears to extend to the ability for individuals to have an independent, international voice regarding legal matters. I write this opinion editorial as the legal representative for Mr. Gaffor Mirzoev, one of the principal figures of the 1990s in Tajikistan. Mirzoev was sentenced to life in prison in 2006 on charges he resolutely rejects as false claims brought against him.

Hired by his family, I recently sought to meet with Mirzoev at the pre-trial detention facility in Dushanbe to discuss with him a range of international legal matters. Instead of being granted access, the Tajik authorities rejected my entry, taking the position that I had to be a Tajik lawyer to represent him, even on issues relating to international law. This contravenes his right to select a lawyer of his own choosing, a core human right to which we are all entitled.

Depriving a country of opposition parties, viewpoints, and legal voices demands greater attention from the international community. In my situation, Mirzoev has not been availed of the opportunity to assist in his representation at a range of international legal venues. This is no small matter, as his family has identified a range of concerns, principally emanating from his status being held as an individual in the “special prison regime” of Tajikistan.

In 2019, the UN Human Rights Committee articulated its concern with this regime when it identified “the harsh conditions of detention imposed on prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment through a special prison regime.” Accordingly, the Committee recommended that Tajikistan “ bring the special regime for prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment into compliance ” with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other relevant UN rules and standards. In 2018, the Committee against Torture found similarly . Violations of his right to a fair trial are also prevalent – an area where the U.S. government has generally noted its concern . Mirzoev deserves to assist the “voice” that has a legal background to provide him the assistance to which he is entitled.

While every state is entitled to promote its sovereign right to decide upon internal matters, Tajikistan has specifically committed to following the human rights norms found within the treaties they have ratified. This commitment permits external oversight. When any country fails to live up to its commitments, the international community needs to act by holding states accountable with the range of tools it has available to promote compliance.

We cannot settle. While sovereignty is a powerful notion that ought to be respected, there must be a threshold limit to this deference. When exceeded, the international community needs to act. Silencing opposition figures, independent voices, and voices for those in prison are examples demanding that a spotlight needs to be shined upon the Tajikistan government’s human rights record. If this examination reveals violations, a demand for action — and consequences for inaction — must follow.

Scott Martin is a managing partner at Global Rights Compliance LLP.


The name Tajik refers to the name of a pre-Islamic tribe that existed before the seventh century A.D. Based on the Library of Congress's 1997 Country Study of Tajikistan, it is difficult to definitively state the origins of the word "Tajik" citing due to its "embroiled in twentieth-century political disputes about whether Turkic or Iranian peoples were the original inhabitants of Central Asia." [1]

The name of the country was often spelt "Tadzhikistan" in the English language during Soviet times due to it being borrowed directly from the Russian spelling "Таджикистан", where the letters 'дж' produce a 'j' sound.

Date Name
5 December 1929 Tajik Socialist Soviet Republic
5 December 1936 Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic
31 August 1991 Republic of Tajikistan

One of the new states created in the process of national delimitation of Soviet Central Asia in October 1924 was the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic – Uzbek SSR or Soviet Uzbekistan. Soviet Tajikistan was created at the same time within the predominantly Turkic Uzbek SSR as an Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (Tajik ASSR) – one rank below a Soviet Socialist Republic in USSR geopolitical hierarchy. The new autonomous republic included what had been eastern Bukhara and had a population of about 740,000, out of a total population of nearly 5 million in the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic as a whole. Its capital was established in Dyushambe, which had been a village of 3,000 in 1920. In December 1929, Tajik ASSR was detached from the Uzbek SSR and given full status as a Soviet Socialist Republic – Tajik Socialist Soviet Republic. At that time, its capital was renamed Stalinabad, after Joseph Stalin, and the territory that is now northern Tajikistan (Sughd Province) was added to the new republic. Even with the additional territory, the Tajik SSR remained the smallest Central Asian republic. On 5 December 1936, it was renamed to the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic.

With the creation of a Tajik republic defined in national terms came the creation of institutions that, at least in form, were likewise national. The first Tajik-language newspaper in Soviet Tajikistan began publication in 1926. New educational institutions also began operation at about the same time. The first state schools, available to both children and adults and designed to provide basic education, opened in 1926. The central government also trained a small number of Tajiks for public office, either by putting them through courses offered by government departments or by sending them to schools in the Uzbek SSR.

Under Soviet rule, Tajikistan experienced some economic and social progress. However, living standards in the republic were still among the lowest in the Union. Most people still lived in rural qishlaqs, settlements that were composed of 200 to 700 one-family houses built along a waterway.

After Stalin's death in March 1953, Stalinabad was renamed to Dushanbe on 10 November 1961 as part of the De-Stalinization program.

In February 1990, riots occurred in the republic's capital Dushanbe. 26 people died and 565 more were injured and the Soviet troops put down the riots. Yaqub Salimov, a future Interior Minister, and some youth activists were convicted for participation in the riots.

Later on 24 August 1990, Tajik SSR declared its sovereignty over Soviet laws. By 1991, Tajikistan participated in a referendum in March as part of the attempt to preserve the union with a turnout of 96.85%. However, this did not happen when hardliners took control of Moscow during the next three days in August. After the failure of the coup, the Tajik SSR was renamed to the Republic of Tajikistan on 31 August 1991. On 9 September 1991, Tajikistan seceded from the Soviet Union months before the country itself ceased to exist on 26 December 1991. Conflicts after independence caused a civil war throughout the country over the next six years.

Tajikistan, like all other republics in the Soviet Union, was officially a soviet republic governed by the Tajik republican branch within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in all organs of government, politics and society. The Supreme Soviet was a unicameral legislature of the republic headed by a Chairman, with its superiority to both the executive and judicial branches and its members convened in the Supreme Soviet building in Dushanbe. Since independence in 1991, it retained the unicameral structure before being replaced by a bicameral system in 1999 using the presidential system. The republic's government structure was similar to those of other republics.

Tajikistan was the only Central Asian Republic to not form an army under the Soviet Armed Forces. In replacement were the Soviet units under the Ministry of Defence, as well as troops who were subordinates of the Turkestan Military District and the Central Asian Military District in neighboring Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan respectively. In the early 1990s the army was the smallest in the union and had more Russians than native Tajiks in it. The army failed to effectively defend the regime as proven in the 1990 Dushanbe riots. There was a large contingent of Soviet border guards who were commanded by Russians based from Moscow who commanded ethnic Tajik conscripts. When the TurkVO was dissolved in June 1992, its personnel were distributed between Tajikistan and the other 4 Central Asian republics.

The Tajik SSR also operated its own Ministry of Internal Affairs and Internal Troops, which was an independent republican affiliate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Soviet Union.

Like all other republics in the Soviet Union, its economy was highly centralised. After independence, it has its Transition economy.

Industry Edit

Light industry and food industries accounted for over 60% of industrial output. The main branches of heavy industry were electric power, mining, non-ferrous metallurgy, machine building,metalworking, and building materials industry. The basis of the electricity accounted for HPP. Mining activities concentrate on brown coal, oil and natural gas. Non-ferrous metals industries were an aluminum plant in Tursunzade and hydrometallurgical in Isfara. Engineering enterprises produced winding, agricultural machinery, equipment for trading enterprises and public catering, textile, lighting and wiring equipment, transformers, household refrigerators, cable and other (main center - Dushanbe). The chemical industry included plants - nitrogen fertilizer in Kurgan-Tube, electrochemical in Yavan, and plastics in Dushanbe. The main branches of light industry were cotton ginning, silk, and carpet weaving. In the food industry stood fruit-canning, vegetable oil and fat industry.

Agriculture Edit

In 1986, there were 299 state and 157 collective farms in the country. Agricultural land was 4.2 million hectares.

Due to the large irrigation works in the area of irrigated land 1986 have reached 662 thousand hectares. Agriculture gave about 65% of gross agricultural output. The leading branch of agriculture was cotton (cotton collection 922 thousand tons in 1986), developed in Fergana, Vakhsh, Hissar valleys. Tajikistan was the main base of the country for the production of long-staple cotton. Cultured and tobacco, geranium, linen - Kudryashov, sesame. Approximately 20% of crops were occupied by grain crops (gross grain harvest - 246 thousand tons in 1986 in.). They grow vegetables and melons. Was developed fruit (including citrus fruit) and grapes. Meat and wool sheep and meat and dairy cattle. Livestock (in 1987, in millions): cattle - 1.4 (including cows - 0.6), sheep and goats - 3.2. Sericulture.

Tajikistan is supplied with gas from Uzbekistan and Afghanistan with gas pipelines from Kelif to Dushanbe, from local gas fields.

Domestic Violence

The government has made important efforts to combat domestic violence but survivors, lawyers, and service providers reported that the 2013 domestic violence law remains largely unimplemented. Domestic violence and marital rape are not specifically criminalized. Police often refuse to register complaints of domestic violence, fail to investigate complaints, or issue and enforce protection orders. A lack of services for survivors, including immediate and longer-term shelters, leave women without clear pathways to escape abuse.

In November 2018, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) expressed concern that domestic violence is “widespread but underreported,” and that there is “systemic impunity for perpetrators … as illustrated by the low number of prosecutions and convictions” and no systematic monitoring of gender-based violence.

Tajikistan’s Human Rights Record up for Review

Since its last review at the UN Human Rights Committee, Tajikistan has pursued a significant crackdown on political rights.

On July 1, the Committee to Protect Journalists called on the government of Tajikistan to reinstate the press accreditation of RFE/RL video journalist Barotali Nazarov. Nazarov’s accreditation was reportedly seized by Tajik government officials in late June and he was “temporarily” banned from reporting for repeatedly “mentioning the extremist and terrorist” Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) an RFE/RL press release stated . Nazarov, RFE/RL says, is the fifth member of the service’s Dushanbe bureau to have their accreditation withheld at present.

The CPJ protest lands as Tajikistan comes under review this week at the United Nations Human Rights Committee . The country’s last review in this particular format was in 2013. Since then, repression in the country has only increased — most notably through the crushing of the opposition IRPT, the jailing of its leaders, and extraordinary pressure placed on activists and journalists both inside Tajikistan and abroad.

A few months ago, an investigation by Eurasianet concluded that RFE/RL’s Tajik Service, locally known as Radio Ozodi, had “adopted an unspoken policy of omitting references to the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, or IRPT, which is deemed an extremist group by Dushanbe, in deference to the government and in violation of the broadcaster’s core mandate.”

As Eurasianet put it last week: “In the wake of the self-censorship reports by Eurasianet and others, RFE/RL pledged to remedy shortcomings. By increasing the attention it reserves for voices critical of the Tajik government, however, Ozodi has attracted more pressure from the authorities.”

In essence, Radio Ozodi is damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t. No serious media outlet could discuss Tajik politics without mentioning the IRPT, but it is increasingly difficult for independent media to hang on under state pressure.

The Tajik government has gone to great lengths to label the IRPT a terrorist organization, an effort that has largely failed to gain traction outside the former Soviet Union. But Dushanbe sticks to the story. Key IRPT members, like Muhiddin Karbiri, have been granted asylum in Europe, where they are able to present and defend a counternarrative to that of the government.

But being in Europe isn’t complete safety either, as the Tajik government often harasses the relatives of its foes who remain in the country. Illustrating this tactic, it’s worth reading this recent piece by Bruce Pannier about Humayra Bakhtiyar, a Tajik journalist residing in Europe who said police in Tajikistan recently summoned her father (on her birthday, in fact), pressuring him to get her to return. Pannier details other similar stories, concluding that “even if [the Tajik authorities] can’t get someone to return to Tajikistan, they can still make their lives miserable by pressuring their kin at home.”

Diplomat Brief

Weekly Newsletter

Get briefed on the story of the week, and developing stories to watch across the Asia-Pacific.

At the same time that Europe provides a base for the Tajik opposition, as I noted in this month’s magazine, European leaders have pursued a careful and unsatisfying policy line in Tajikistan: Criticism, if it occurs, happens behind closed doors. In public, it’s all smiles and handshakes and no questions asked .

This week , exiled Tajik opposition politicians looked on as a Tajik government delegation delivered its report detailing how the state views its implementation of commitments made to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Later this month, the committee will produce its own report, after considering the state’s and various other stakeholders’ submissions. If the past is anything to judge by, the committee’s report will point out, in bland technocratic language, a great many human rights violations. Nothing will be done to remedy them or punish the state for failing to live up to its commitments.

Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance

More than a million Tajik citizens live and work outside of their home country for most of the year. Due to insufficient knowledge of host countries’ languages, laws, and their own rights, migrant workers from Tajikistan are often vulnerable to human trafficking, including sexual exploitation.

USAID addresses issues of trafficking-in-persons and labor migration through social, educational, and financial support to former migrant workers, particularly those who are no longer allowed to return to the Russian Federation. USAID programs help them reintegrate into their communities and gain the skills needed to obtain employment or start a business.

We also partner with local groups to foster accountable and inclusive local governance that is responsive to the needs of the country’s citizens. Alongside these efforts, USAID’s media programs are developing a more balanced information environment to increase openness for differing opinions among youth and adults that will lead to increased civic engagement.

USAID built the capacity of civil society organizations to advocate for a more conducive civil society legal environment and comply with existing laws to maintain their registration status.

USAID provided guidance and legal consultations to approximately 62,500 people via the migration hotline.

USAID assisted 290 victims of trafficking, vulnerable migrant laborers, and other victims of human rights abuses with the Emergency Fund.

USAID provided 100 migrant laborers with training and assistance to launch small businesses.

USAID registered 155 local neighborhood associations to advocate for citizens within local decision-making processes.

Watch the video: Η Ιστορία των Ανθρωπίνων Δικαιωμάτων