To the President of the Republic of Tajikistan Mr. Emomali Rahmon


To the President of the Republic of Tajikistan
Mr. Emomali Rahmon

Dear Mr. President!

The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group is seriously concerned by the deepening crisis in the city of Khorog, Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast of Tajikistan, where for the third day the situation remains unstable.

According to Tajik civil society organizations early morning on July 24, 2012, state law enforcement and security agencies launched a special operation to identify and arrest those accused of the murder of the Chief of State National Security Committee in GBAO, Abdullo Nazarov. Despite the fact that the operation had been planned earlier, local authorities did not inform the civilian population of its intention to use lethal weapons, thereby putting at risk the lives of hundreds of women, children and elderly people.

Since the beginning of the special operation through today the entire region is left without any communications connection to the outside world. These have been blocked by order of the State Committee on National Security. Roads and air routes also remain fully closed, including for humanitarian goods; in some areas, there is no electricity. However, during a press conference on July 26, the head of communication services of the government of Tajikistan, Beg Zukhurov, once again claimed that the reason for lack of communication in the region is that cable was damaged during the shootings and that telecommunications will be restored in the next few days.

Access to the “Asia Plus”, a major information portal, was blocked on July 23 2012 and remains limited, in connection with the events in GBAO. Today, following an oral government order access to YouTube was blocked, due to the fact that several days a video was posted to YouTube depicting local Khorog residents peacefully demonstrating in opposition to the deployment of additional troops to GBAO.

The region has always attracted a large number of tourists, and currently more than 60 foreign tourists are blocked in the region; their fate also remains unknown.

A major concern is the fate of young soldiers, from the number of conscripts who have been sent to the region without proper training and knowledge about conducting military operations in mountainous terrain. According to official data, during the operation some 42 people were killed, including 30 members of illegal armed groups, and 12 officers from among government troops, as well as there were 20 casualties reported among the civil population.

Today, despite the announced decision of a full cease-fire on July 25, 2012, there is still no information on the situation in the region, and continued conflicting information may further destabilize the situation in the country.

We consider that the Tajik Government’s military actions in GBAO region represent the violation of the obligations of the Republic of Tajikistan under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.

In this connection, we urge the Government to:

1. Immediately announce a full cessation of hostilities in Khorog and its neighbourhoods;

2. Reactivate the telephone and other forms of communication with the region;

3. Allow the presence of humanitarian missions;

4. To provide operational information on the situation in the region;

5. Allow representatives of civil society and media access to the region to provide assistance and to assess the situation;

6. Ensure full guarantees of human rights during the investigation of the incidents in Khorog in regard of the persons detained during the operation, and in line with its international obligations.

Yevgeniy Zakharov,
Co-Chair of the
Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group

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