Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1992

As a result of the failure of the August 1991 coup in Moscow, the first president
of Tajikistan, a supporter of the coup, was forced to resign. Elections were subsequently
held under the amended Soviet-era Constitution which declared Tajikistan
to be a secular, multiparty republic with a presidential system of government. In
the elections, Rahmon Nabiyev won a majority, collecting 58 percent of the votes
in a field of nine candidates. Although various opposition voices charged that there
had been serious irregularities, opposition leaders did not challenge the outcome of
the voting. However, within weeks of the balloting, the opposition began agitating
against the regime, including street demonstrations in Dushanbe. The young
Nabiyev administration responded to the public agitation with strong authoritarian
During the March-May period, the opposition mounted large-scale demonstrations
in Dushanbe. Subsequently thousands of pro-Nabiyev demonstrators assembled in
Dushanbe outside Parliament. Tensions rose dramatically after the May 10 shooting
deaths of more than a dozen opposition demonstrators marching on the Committee
for State Security (KGB) building and the nearby Ministry of the Interior. The Commander
of the President's Guard switched sides, and the demoralized Government
capitulated to opposition demands. A Government of National Reconciliation was
formed which limited the powers of the President and placed opposition nominees
in prominent parliamentary and ministerial positions.
The conflict in the capital polarized much of Tajikistan, exacerbating longstanding,
intraregional animosities and accentuating divisions between secular and more
Islamic segments of the overwhelmingly Muslim population. In June communal violence
erupted in Kurgan Tyube, whose population originates from several regions
(see Section l.g.). The fighting, which continued throughout the year, displaced
scores of thousands of persons and was characterized by brutalities and atrocities
on both sides. The coalition central Government, paralyzed by internal divisions,
was slow to respond to the violence.
President Naoiyev sought involvement by Russian and Commonwealth of Independent
States (CIS) forces to quell the fighting. The opposition successfully blocked
an agreement that would have led to the arrival of additional Russian-CIS troops.
Youth groups in Dushanbe, under the conmiand of radical opposition second-rank
leaders, called for the resignation of Nabiyev and kidnaped over 50 senior government
oflicials. After a week of standoff, during which at least one of the hostages
was tortured and killed, Nabiyev himself was lured to the airport and captured.
Under duress, he resigned.
Following the coup d'etat, fighting intensified. The forces of the new Government,
headed by Akbarsho Iskandarov, were routed and gradually forced out of all major
positions. The consequences of their defeat were both political and military. Under
firessure of a thrust by old guard forces into the capital in late October, the
skandarov regime agreed to a parliamentary session in the secure northern refional
capital of Khojand. By an overwhelming majority. Parliament replaced the
skandarov regime with one headed by Kulyabi regional executive chairman Imomili
Rahmonov, appointing him Chairman of Parliament and Head of State. Parliament
also abolished the positions of President and Vice President, adopting a parliamentary
form of government.
Following installation of the new Government in Dushanbe, progovemment forces
launched an offensive against opposition forces retreating from the area around the
capital into the Garm valley, homeland of most of the opposition. At the end of 1992,
those hostilities threatened to close that region off to sources of outside supply of
food and fuel. More alarmingly, armed progovemment gangs began combing the
capital for people originating from the regions of Garm or Badakhshan, kidnaping
and killing many. The new Government spoke out against these acts of retribution
but did not act effectively to control them. Of equal concern, the continuing hostilities
in the Kurgan Tvube region have driven over a hundred thousand remgees
from Taiikistan into Afghanistan.
The Committee for State Security (KGB) and the Ministry of the Interior theoretically
share responsibility for security and public order. A new "national army^ to
be formed will nave responsibility for border defense, a responsibility also held by
KGB forces and CIS-Russian border forces. The heavily armed Ministry of the Interior
police has until recently been composed to a large extent of Pamiri personnel,
who in the past have sided with the opposition. The Rahmonov Government appears
to be moving to broaden the ethnic-regional makeup of this force. CIS-Russian garrison
forces at times took action at the request of Tajikistan's governments to safeguard
key facilities and routes and to enforce curfews in the capital. Both old guard
and opposition elements have been responsible for extensive and continuing violations
of human rights, including summary executions of captives, disregard for civilian
or noncombatant status, hostage-taking, torture, rape, looting, and wanton destruction
of civilian and state property.
The centrally planned economy, highly dependent on cotton, declined sharply
owing to the violence. Production in all sectors plummeted, and little progress was
made toward a market economy. The only exception to this steeply negative trend
was in the northern region of Leninabad which did not suffer hostilities. There, although
the economy was undermined by structural transition problems and the influx
of refugees, economic activity in 1992 was more normal. Tajikistan is a net importer
of food and, prior to independence, had relied on subsidies from the central
Soviet government.
Political instability and expanding and intensifying conflict seriously imp>eded democratization
and the protection of human rights. Nevertheless, Parliament's selection
of a new Government was a positive step which drew qualified acceptance, even
from some prominent opposition iigures. Failure of the new Government to exercise
control over forces operating in its name or on its behalf, however, has greatly reduced
hopes for a genuine national reconciliation. The breakdown of law and order,
the uncontrolled criminal action of vengeance-seeking forces, notably in the capital
and the far south, and the continuing flight of refugees are disturbing. In addition,
indications that the new Government may resort to authoritarian measures, notably
in the area of press freedom, are also worrisome.
Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from
a. Political and Extrajudicial Killing.—The spring demonstrations culminated in
violence between supporters of the two factions, including assassinations. Unknown
persons shot and killed MuraduUo Sharlizoda, an opposition supporter and the editor
of the Tajik daily newspaper Sardoi Mardum, as he departed the National Assembly
building located at Ozodi Square, the site of the progovemment rally. In the
May takeover of the Dushanbe radio station, opposition supporters killed radio journalist
Olimi Zarubek.
In August unknown assailants assassinated Chief Procurator Khovoydollayev,
who had received death threats, and his bodyguard. He had been a strong adversary
of the opposition and was responsible for the detention of opposition-supported
Dushanbe Mayor Ikramov.
In September the "Youth of Tajikistan" (YT) kidnaped 53 government ofUcials for
3 days and released the hostages only after forcing statements, some televised, calling
for President Nabiyev's resignation. One hostage, Deputy Chairman Sangarov
of the Kulyab City Executive Committee, was brutally tortured and killed after he
refused to comply with the kidnapers' demands. The opposition coalition which subsequently
took power did not open proceedings against tne YT.
In December former Parliament Chairman Aslonov, who had been appointed
Chairman of the Executive Committee of Kurgan Tyube region by acting President
Iskandarov, reportedly was killed. He had been taken prisoner by Kulyabi militia
forces in November following the collapse of his regional government. The killing regortedly
was carried out by these forces subsequent to the selection of Imomili
ahmonov as Parliament Chairman and Chief of State.
Also in December, armed groups from among old guard forces in the Hissar began
the systematic combing of Dushanbe nei^bornoods in search of young Pamiri and
Garm-Karotegin males. These men were taken hostage, and manv were killed, their
bodies subsequently found in the streets of the capital. The number of such killings
appears to have reached several score, at a minimum, in December. Finally, in December,
the Deputy Chief of the KGB was assassinated in Dushanbe. He had been
an important factor in designing security policy in the coalition government and the
Iskanaarov regime.
In December unknown elements, assumed to be sympathetic to the opposition
side, kidnaped, tortured, and killed three CIS-Russian garrison soldiers. Tneir bodies
were later discovered in opposition-controlled territory.
      b. Disappearance.
In the spring and summer, conflict in the Kurgan Tyube area
escalated, with both sides taking civilians hostage. Hundreds of persons disappeared
from towns and villages, many of whom are either being detained as hostages or
were executed.
In addition, following the legal removal of the Iskandarov regime by Parliament
and both before and after the installation of the new Rahmonov Government in the
capital, armed groups, apparently principally groups based in the Hissar Valley
west of the capital, began searching for Garm and Pamir-origin citizens. Victims
were seized in their homes, from buses, at the capital's airport, and during document
searches in the streets. While the Government, including Chairman
Rahmonov, condemned these actions and pledged police and court action against
perpetrators, these activities continued. Charges from well-placed individuals, including
some in the Tajikistan Government, have contended that these actions by
the nongovernmental armed groups have the tacit support of senior government officials.
Approximately 15 Russian civilians were kidnaped along with the 3 CIS-Russian
soldiers in December. As of late 1992, their fate was unknown.
      c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
During the September coup d'etat, YT members kidnaped 53 government officials.
Severed of the government officials were threatened with death and beaten, and at
least one was tortured and murdered (see Section l.a.). The present Dushanbe regime,
which came to power following Resident Nabiyev's forced resignation in September,
has not initiated proceedings to bring the YT members to justice.
TTiere are credible reports that both sides in the civil conilict have in some instances
tortured, beaten, and raped civilians presumed to be sympathetic to the op-
Eosing side. Prisoners have protested prison conditions in the region of Yavan and
[urgan Tjrube where civil conflict has resulted in food, water, and electricity shortages.
d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile,—The Criminal Code of Taiikistan has not
been significantly amended since independence, and the abuses enaemic to the Soviet
system are still evident. Persons may be detained arbitrarily and without arrest
warrants. Within 72 hours, the accused must be officially charged, at which point
the Criminal Code permits pretrial detention for up to 18 months at the sole discretion
of the procurator's oflice. There is no requirement for judicial approval or for
a preliminary judicial hearing on the charge or the detention. In criminal cases, detamees
may be released and restricted to their place of residence j>endin^ trial. Detained
persons have the right to counsel in principle, though practice varies widely.
In March the mayor of Dushanbe, opposition leader Maksud Dcramov, was arrested
on the charge of corruption. The Supreme Soviet called for his arrest, and
the Dushanbe City Executive Council affirmed his removal from oflice. Ikramov was
transferred to the city of Khojand and jailed. Following the formation of the Government
of National Reconciliation in May, the Dushanbe Citv Executive Council rescinded
its decision to remove Ikramov, stating that the decision had been made
under pressure. Nevertheless, Ikramov remained in prison until October, when the
authorities released him pending further investigation of the charge. Dcramov's release
came during the Iskandarov regime.
Nineteen Members of Parliament (M.P.'s) were kidnaped by opposition supporters
in late April in Dushanbe. These M.P.'s were detained overnight, leading to the decision
by then Parliament Chairman Kenayev to resign. His agreement to resign, as
well other concessions to the opposition, secured the release of the 19 M.P.'s who
were not harmed. However, the concessions offered to the opposition to secure the
M.P.*s release were withdrawn. This kidnaping was a catalyst for direct confrontation
between proand anti-government demonstrations in the capital.
There were no reports o? persons being sentenced to exile.
      e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The Tajik court system remains unmodified from
the Soviet period. There are several tiers of courts: the district, city, oblast (province),
and republic levels. Higher courts serve as appellate courts for lower ones.
Local, provincial, and republic-level judges are, for the most part, poorly trained and
lack an understanding of independent judicial function. The court system at all levels
remains strongly under the influence of local political leaderships.
Trials are public, and defendants have the ri^t to attend proceedings, confront
witnesses, and present evidence. The court appoints an attorney for defendants who
do not have one. The law now provides that a lawyer may be present at the initial
interrogation of a witness; however, it appears that few defendants have benefited
from such representation. The procurator's office remains responsible for conducting
all preliminary investigations of allegations of criminal conduct. If, following the
completion of an investigation, the procurator's office decides to go to trial, the defendant
is presumed guilty until otherwise demonstrated.
In Kurgan Tyube, where civil conflict is centered, judicial proceedings have halted,
prolonging some defendants' detention in jail and leaving criminals undeterred.
During the spring demonstrations in Dushanbe and the September coup, opposition
demonstrators and the YT meted out sunmiary justice with the tacit support of
some elements of the opposition coalition which subsequently took power. The lef[
ally constituted Rahmonov Government Tailed to take effective action against vigiante
groups in Dushanbe and southern districts which sought vengeance against
groups from the Garm and Pamir regions.
      f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
Criminal Coae supports the inviolability of the home and prohibits interference with
correspondence. Entry and search of a private home by the militia may be conducted
with the approval of a procurator. In some cases, entry and search may be undertaken
without permission, but the procurator must be informed within 24 hours.
In practice, the breakdown of civil order in the capital and the southern regions
resulted in arbitrary violent actions by criminal and vigilante groups, occasionally
with the tacit support of senior officials in the Nabiyev, Iskandarov, and Rahmonov
administrations. Some residents of Dushanbe, particularly Russian speakers or ethnic
Tajiks from northern Tajikistan, were ordered at gunpoint to eive up their
homes to refugees from the south. Following removal of the Iskandarov regime,
armed old guard, pro-Rahmonov groups harassed Garm and Pamir-origin civilians,
exacting retribution for acts by individual and armed elements of these two groups
in earlier months in a cycle of revenge that continues. In the regions of Kurgan
Tyube and Kulyab, militia groups destroyed homes, property, crops, and livestock.
g. Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian Law in Internal Conflicts.—
The fighting in Tajikistan, concentrated in Kurgan Tyube, has been characterized
by brutalities and atrocities on both sides. Both old guard and opposition elements
have been responsible for extensive and continuing violations of human
rights, including sunmiary executions of captives, disregard for civilian and noncombatant
status, hostage-taking, torture, rape, looting, and wanton destruction of
civilian and state property.
In Kuiigan Tyube the fighting pitted Garm and Pamiri-origin settlers, aided by
the predominantly Pamiri Ministry of Interior forces, against settlers from other regions
and indigenous Uzbeks, aided by the remnants of the presidential "battalion,"
consisting of progovemment Kulyabis. Estimates of the civilian casualties range
from 1,000 to 3,000. The fighting resulted in shortages of food, water, and electricity;
destruction of industrial enterprises; and a massive How of displaced civilians
whose numbers are above a quarter of a million.
Militia forces which support the opposition coalition that seized power in September
completely blockaded the region of Kulyab, where over 800,000 people reside
and where an additional 150,000 internally displaced from Kurgan Tyube nad taken
refuge. All supplies of food and fuel to Kulyab were halted, and requests from the
Government of Uzbekistan to open a route for the delivery of humanitarian assistance
were refused. Credible reports indicate that opposition forces looted and destroyed
hospitals in Kurgan Tyube. Kulyabi forces also were accused of looting and
wanton destruction.
Old guard forces, led by former Parliament Chairman Kenjaev, advanced into
Dushanbe in late October, provoking fighting within the capital, already swollen
with displaced persons. There was some relatively minor damage to state and civilian
property as a result of this attack and some deaths in the fighting.
Following installation of the new Government in Dushanbe, progovemment forces
launched an offensive against opposition forces retreating from the area around the
capital into the Garm valley, homeland of most of the opposition. At the end of 1992,
those hostilities threatened to close that region off to sources of outside supply of
food and fuel.
Of equal concern, the continuing hostilities in the Kurgan Tyube region have driven
over 100,000 refugees from Tajikistan into Afghanistan.
Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including
a. Freedom of Press and Speech.—Freedom of speech, press, and expression expanded
greatly in the beginning of 1992 but steaaily contracted during the public
demonstrations of the March-May period, the May formation of the Government of
National Reconciliation, and the September coup.
The beginning of 1992 saw a continuation of press freedom which blossomed after
the September 1991 declaration of independence and the period leading to the November
1991 presidential election. Independent papers appeared throughout
Tajikistan, along with a host of professional and social publications. Government authorities
relinquished overt control over former state and party publications, although
budgetary contributions continued. The Government maintained control of
the printing presses but, in contrast to an earlier period of press liberalization in
1990-1991, did not threaten to deny publications access to publishing facilities.
The spring demonstrations polarized the political situation. Independent reporters
and papers critical of President Nabiyev received anonymous threats, including
some tm^atening death. In April a ioumalist for Charogi Kuz, Dodojon AtuoUo, was
beaten severely by an assailant, and the windows of his nome were shot out.
The Nabiyev government attempted to expand Criminal Code provisions by adding
fines and imprisonment for new offenses, such as insulting a public figure or
institution. The Nabiyev government also gave the procurator unchecked powers to
close newspapers that violated these provisions. Cfhief Procurator KhovoidoUayev
privately warned several newspapers that they faced imminent closure for printing
statements by opposition political parties that were critical of the Nabiyev government.
The government of National Reconciliation abolished the proposed press amendments,
but press freedom continued to diminish, largely through self-censorship.
This process accelerated after the September coup as editors grew wary of government-
supported youth groups and thugs. On several occasions, articles critical of the
new regime's political figures resulted in threats of physical violence from various
youth groups which served as unofficial enforcers.
The State Committee of Radio and Television came under strong criticism for its
one-sided version of events. The State Committee eliminated Moscow Channel 2 and
the Uzbekistan Channel, but Moscow Channel 2 was restored by presidential decree
in October following mounting public resentment of the embargo.
The government of National Reconciliation and the post-September Dushanbe re-
S'me severely limited news on the civil war in the south. Moscow correspondents
om the Ostankino television station and other foreign correspondents were prohibited
from filing video rejxirts. In reaction to the State Committee's bias in favor of
the new regime, the northern region of Leninabad alternatively cut and then reduced
central television and radio programming and is establishing an independent
television and radio station.
Under the Rahmonov administration, both television broadcasting from Russia
and Uzbekistan resumed. However, the new administration announced that it was
creating an information office under the joint administration of the Council of Ministers
and the Parliament Presidium which would coordinate the flow of information
to the state-controlled broadcast media.
The collapse of the Soviet Union lifted de facto bans on academic debate, particularly
on topics dealing with nationalism and language. Academic expression is now
limited only by the financial inability of many journals to publish regularly.
      b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
The Constitution ensures freedom
of speech, publications, meetings, demonstrations, and rallies. Persons may join
together, formally or informally, to promote nonviolent causes or protest government
Policies but, according to regulations, must apply for a demonstration permit 10
ays in advance. Societies and organizations, including political parties, are required
to register with the Minister of Justice, if a republicwide organization, or
with the appropriate city executive council committee, if the group's activities are
local in nature. There is no evidence that organizations face delays or difficulties
in registering. To date, 129 republicwide organizations have registered with the
Ministry of Justice. The new Government announced its opposition to the involvement
of religious movements or religious leaders in national politics. It is unclear
how this will affect the activities of the opposition Islamic Revival Party.
Public demonstrations changed the political structure of Tajikistan in 1992. For
51 days in the March-May period, up to 20,000 protestors gathered in a round-theclock
vigil in the two central squares of Dushanbe, effectively closing the Cabinet
of Ministers and Presidential Office Building, shutting down public transportation
on the central avenue, and erecting semipermanent tents along the main and subsidiary
boulevards. Under the Government of National Reconciliation and following
the subsequent ousting of President Nabiyev, demonstrations on a smaller scale continued
to take place in Dushanbe's central squares.
The March-May demonstrations were "unsanctioned" in that demonstrators on
both sides did not seek or receive permits to hold their respective demonstrations
in the central squares. The Nabiyev regime was reluctant to use force to disperse
the unsanctioned demonstrators. Since May, no government organ or
extragovemmental force has had the authority or the means peacefully or forcefully
to disperse unsanctioned demonstrators.
      c. Freedom of Religion
According to the Constitution, church and state are separate
in Tajikistan. Protection of religious freedom is enshrined in the Law on Freedom
of Faith and Religious Organizations passed in December 1990. After independence,
the Government moved to recognize the important role of Islam in Tajikistan,
where approximately 90 percent of residents are Muslim. Islam's renaissance is
manifest in the boom in the construction of mosques around the republic and an
increase in religious observance. Islamic education has been reestablished through
the qaziate in Dushanbe (the Islamic center and seat of the chief Islamic judge in
Tajikistan) which oversees both a male and female madressah (secondary-level religious
education institutions).
While Islam is the majority religion, minority religions enjoy both government
and individual tolerance and several churches are active in Dushanbe, including a
Jewish synagogue and a Seventh-Day Adventist Society, as well as Russian Orthodox
and German Catholic churches. Official discrimination against religious minorities
has not been detected under any of Tajikistan's successive governments, although
one incident took place involving serious mistreatment of a young Jewish
man by Dushanbe police. In 1992 there were no restrictions on visits of prominent
Muslims as well as visitors and proselytizers of different faiths.
d. Freedom, of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation.—
Tajikistan does not restrict the movement of people within its borders,
with one notable exception. Tajiks and foreigners alike are restricted from travel
into or through a 25-kilometer border zone which, according to Tajik officials, follows
Tajikistan's borders with Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, and China. Officials
state that the exclusionary zone was established in August 1992 for security
reasons to preclude travel near Tajikistan's disturbed southern border with Afghanistan.
There are no restrictions on the ability of a Tajik national to change residence
or woricplace.
Tajik nationals who wish to travel abroad must obtain an exit visa; there is no
evidence these are withheld for political reasons.
The Iskandarov regime on several occasions delayed the issuance of international
passports to ethnic Russians. In each instance, the Government claimed that the
Russian passport applicant was unfairly chosen to represent Tfnikistan in an international
scholar exchange or training program in the United States. The Government
eventually issued passports to the applicants. Neither the Nabiyev nor the
Rahmonov regimes took such actions.
Tajikistan has no law on emigration. For the time being, a person who wishes to
emigrate must proceed as if applying to travel abroad. Once settled abroad, the person
is required to advise the Tajik interests section of the nearest Russian embassy
or consulate of the fact of their emigration. That information is then passed back
to the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Tajikistan which either approves or disapproves
the resettlement. Tajik officials add that emigrating nationals rarely make
this notification.
Since February 1990, there has been an exodus of Russian-speaking people, including
Jews and ethnic Germans. The passage of the Tajik language law, fear of
the development of an Islamic state, and continued political instability hastened
their departure (see Section 5). There were credible reports that some Russians
were denied permission to leave Tajikistan because of their particular professional
Residents who have eniigrated and wish to return to live in Tajikistan must submit
their request to the Tajik interests section of the nearest Russian embassy or
consulate. The Government adjudicates each request on a case by case basis. There
are no prohibitions against a Tajik national reclaiming citizenship after emigrating;
for instance, six Jewish families returned to Tajikistan after emigrating to Israel.
Tajik citizenship is not known to be revoked for political reasons.
In recent months, some of the fleeing refugees were driven across the river border
with Afghanistan by opposition forces seeking to use the civilians as shields. A large
number were forced across by old guard units, some of which appeared to be operating
independently of any centralized command. Hundreds reportedly were drowned
or were shot to death in the chaotic winter crossing of the Amu Daria. As 1992 con929
eluded, the forced flight of refugees to northern Afghanistan appeared to be continuing.
Section 3. Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government
Progress towards establishing the right of citizens to change their government
through democratic means was interrupted by the outbreak of civil war. The presidential
election of November 1991, won by Rahmon Nabiyev, is the only direct election
ever held in this country. It was democratically contested, and, although the
opposition claimed that the election was fraudulent, it was accepted that Nabiyev
had won at least a plurality of the votes. At the time, it represented progress in
democratization, particularly in relation to elections held during the Soviet regime.
The formation of the government of National Reconciliation was effected by armed
factions rather than by constitutional procedures for changing governments. The
resignation of Nabiyev at gunpoint in September and the extraconstitutional assumption
of power by the opposition coalition brought an end to all efforts at political
reform, including the drafting of a new constitution. The escalation of the conflict
into civil war destroyed civilian order in much of the country. Parliament's 16th
session in November-December 1992, in the presence of international observers, including
from the International Committee of^the Red Cross (ICRC) and the United
States, selected a new Chairman of Parliament, Imonuli Rahmonov. With the elimination
of the presidential system, he became Chief of State.
The current regime is composed principally of Leninabad and Kulyab regional political
interests, with participation of former and current Conununist ofdcials in lead
roles. The new Government has representation from all regions, though no opposition
representatives are government ministers. The Prime Minister in the opposition-
installed Iskandarov regime, Abdul Malik AbduUajanov, has been retained in
his role as Head of Grovemment, as have a number of officials who served in both
the Nabiyev and Iskandarov adniinistrations.
Parliament was last elected in February 1990 under Soviet election laws and prior
to the emergence of some democratic movements and parties. It therefore reflects
the Communist-era, old guard power structure to a significant extent. It nonetheless
remains a legal institution recognized by all sides as a legitimate political body. Its
meeting in November was only the second time since the key May meeting when
it was able to achieve a quorum. A brief special session in August initially had difficulty
in achieving a qpiorum and deadlocked over opposition-proposed initiatives.
The November session in Khojand easily achieved a quorum, collecting 197 of the
230 delegates. Various governments responded to an invitation to send observers to
the session, as did the ICRC. Senior opposition leaders, though not delegates, and
international journalists also were present.
Section 4. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations ofHuman Rights
Groups that monitor human ri^ts inside Tajikistan include the newly formed
Helsinki Watch group, the Russian Society, ana various ethnic-based groups that
focus on ensuring the freedom of emigration of minority populations. International
organizations concerned about human rights have been able to visit the Republic
during all three administrations, including two visits by senior representatives of
tiie United Nations.
The successive governments of Tajikistan have been willing to discuss human
rights issues with representatives of such international organizations as the Conference
on Security and Cooperation in Europe and the ICRC.
Section 5. Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Language, or Social Status
The civil war hastened the exodus of ethnic minorities, in particular the Russianspewing
peoples from Tajikistan. While the fitting was primarily among Tajiks,
civilian populations, including large numbers of ethnic Uzbeks, who comprise 23
percent of the total population of 5.1 million, were displaced from their homes and
had their properties destroyed. Subsequent involvement of armed groups composed
of Uzbeks indigenous to the Hissar Valley and to Kurgan Tyube in support of old
guard forces has changed the nature of the conflict into one in which non-Tajiks are
also involved. There are credible reports that armed youth groups harassed both
Russian-speaking people and northern Tajiks who, as a result, are moving to the
Leninabad region or emigrating to Uzbekistan or elsewhere in the former Soviet
Union. There are credible reports that during the Iskandarov regime some Russians
were being denied permission to leave because of their particular professional expertise
(see i^ction 2.a.).
At various times since the March-May demonstrations, prominent political leaders
have warned the Russian population of'^Tajikistan that they wiU be held responsible
for the actions of the Russian-CIS forces stationed in Tajikistan. Democrat Party
Chairman Shodman Yusuf implicitly threatened ethnic Russians with retribution in
May for supposed Russian interference in Tajik domestic aflalrs. Following 3 days'
captivity in September, Acting Deputy Prime Minister Karimov urged Russia not to
take one side or another in the civil conflict or the Russian population would be at
risk. Following inaccurate reports that the CIS garrison had nred on unarmed demonstrators
in October, armed groups took ethmc Russians hostage and threatened
others, Including several schoolchildren. The hostages were released.
The Tajik language law, passed in 1989, stipulates that Tajik will be the sole official
language of Tajikistan bv 1996 and reserves Russian as the language of
interethnic communication. A draft revision of the Tajik language law, completed in
the summer of 1992 but not yet reviewed by the National Assembly, eliminates the
role of Russian as an interethnic language. While the educational system will continue
to conduct classes in Tajik, Russian, and Uzbek, all government workers must
conduct their written and oral business in Tajik by 1994. Tliere is debate about the
possible revision of this law to eliminate Russian as an interethnic language.
The collapse of the Soviet Union eliminated unofficial quotas that existed for hiring
women and ethnic minorities at all levels of the Communist party and other
state organs. As a result, the disproportionate number of Russians in high government
posts was eliminated. Concurrently, the proportionate number of women and
Uzbeks in government disappeared. For example, although there are no legal barriers
to female or ethnic minority participation in the electoral process, female Members
of Parliament declined from 150 out of 315 to 9 out of 150.
The criminal harassment of Afghan citizens residing in Tajikistan was in practice
sanctioned by the coalition government and the Iskandarov regime. Afghan residents,
businessmen, and diplomats were the tai;gets of crime, kidnaping, and rape.
Despite frequent official protests to these governments, securitv organs overlooked
crime perpetrated against Afghans. Police units, as a rule, did not respond to Afghan
refugee pleas for assistance.
Section 6. Worker Rights
      a. The Right ofAssociation.
According to the Law on Social Organization and the
Law on Trade Union Rights and Activity, all citizens are guaranteed the right of
association. Included in this guarantee is the right to form and to join associations
without prior authorization, to form and join ^derations and affiliate with international
organizations freely, and to participate in international travel.
There is no longer any requirement for a single labor union structure. However,
the Communist-era Confederation of Trade Unions remedns the dominant labor organization,
although it has shed its subordination to the Communist party. TTie
Confederation claims 1.6 million members. In April 1990, the Labor Union of Private
Sector Enterprises and Organizations was formed, independent of the Confederation.
It claims 40,000 members, some of whom also have dual membership in the
Confederation. Both labor unions consult with the Cabinet of Ministers on worker
rights as well as on issues of social welfare. In August the unions worked with the
Cabinet of Ministers to raise the minimum wage.
In the event that arbitration fails, unions have the ri^t to strike. In 1991, 3 davs
of negotiations between the unions and the Government averted a nationwide strike
protesting low teachers' wages and the unpopular "President's Tax." As a matter of
principle, both labor unions publicly disavow the utility of strikes in a period of economic
crisis and high unemplo3Tnent and espouse compromise between management
and workers.
      b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
The right to organize and
bareain collectively is codified in the Tajik Soviet Socialist Repuhlic Labor Code and
is the subject of draft legislation. Currently, the Law on Trade Unions prohibits
antiunion discrimination or the use of sanctions to dissuade union membership.
There are no export processing zones.
      c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
Forced and compulsory labor is
considered to be prohibited, although there is no explicit injunction in the Labor
Code or in the Law on Employment of the Population. However, this law provides
that a person has the right to find work of his own choosing. Labor inspectors within
the local trade union structure enforce this law. The Soviet practice of compelling
students to harvest cotton was outlawed in 1989. There were reliable reports, however,
that Kulyab militia commander Sangak Safarov forcibly conscripted labor battalions
from among Garm males with ancestral origin in the Garm area who have
attempted to return to their homes in Kulyabi-controlled, Kurgan Tyube area.
      d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children
According to the Labor Code, the
minimum age for the employment of children is 16. With the concurrence of the
local trade union, employment may begin at the age of 15. While official data is
ladcing, children from the age of 7 often work during the harvest, but their work
is considered "family assistance."
      e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
After consultation with union representatives,
the Government in September raised the minimum wage by decree. It does not,
however, provide a decent standard of living for a woiker and family. The decree
affects sdl workers except those in the armed forces, police, and KGB. The standard
legal workweek is 40 hours. The Government established occupational health and
sfuety standards, but according to ofUcial data in 1991, more than a fifth of industrial
workers worked in substandard conditions.