army to take on powerful figure linked to high-profile murder case.
By Lola Olimova

TAJIK WOMEN HIT GLASS CEILING  Despite government programmes, women
rarely make it past second-in-command.  By Gulafshon Sokieva - Central

**** NEW 
KYRGYZSTAN ELECTION UPDATES 2011: http://iwpr.net/focus/kyrgyz-election-2011

LATEST PROJECT REVIEWS: http://iwpr.net/make-an-impact/project-reviews

VACANCIES: http://iwpr.net/what-we-do/vacancies


CENTRAL ASIA PROGRAMME HOME: http://www.iwpr.net/programme/central-asia

CENTRAL ASIA RADIO: http://iwpr.net/programme/central-asia/central-asia-radio





**** http://iwpr.net/ **********************************************************

DONATE TO IWPR: http://iwpr.net/donate

**** http://iwpr.net/ **********************************************************


Authorities send in army to take on powerful figure linked to
high-profile murder case.

By Lola Olimova

Forty-two people died when Tajik government forces clashed with
supporters of a renegade military commander in the remote southeastern
province of Badakhshan, police agencies said.

In a joint statement issued on July 24, the interior ministry and
national security committee said 12 of the dead belonged to the Tajik
security forces and the rest were members of a rebel armed group
targeted in a major military operation.

On July 25, the Tajik military and police held talks with Ayombekov’s
group and agreed a ceasefire. This held through the day  – gunfire was
no longer heard in the main provincial town, Khorog. It appeared the
Tajik government military had fallen short of achieving its objective
of crushing the rebel forces. (See Halt to Fighting in Tajikistan's
East, No Clear Outcome.)

This outbreak of violence – highly unusual for this
sparsely-populated, high-altitude region of Tajikistan – began on July
when the provincial head of the national security service,
Major-General Abdullo Nazarov, was killed in an attack outside Khorog.

The authorities identified one Tolib Ayombekov as a possible suspect.
Like the murdered man, Ayombekov was a member of the regular security
forces, in his case as commander of a border guards unit at Ishkashim,
close to the Afghan frontier.

According to the official account of events, the authorities sent a
team to negotiate with Ayombekov and urge him to hand over the alleged
killers among his men. After three days of talking, it was clear this
was not going to happen.

“Ayombekov categorically refused this demand and instead he mobilised
armed criminals,” an official statement said.

The authorities then sent in the military, resulting in street battles
in Khorog. Although casualties were high, the government said no
civilians were killed.

A state of emergency was declared in Badakhshan, the few roads in and
out were blocked, flights between Khorog and the capital Dushanbe were
suspended, and mobile phone and internet access was cut.

Ayombekov is a former rebel leader turned security forces member. Like
many opposition commanders who fought the government during the
1992-97 civil war, he was given his command in the border guards force
as part of the peace and reintegration agreement that ended the

In that job, officials are now alleging, he set up a crime ring that
ran cross-border smuggling of narcotics, tobacco and precious stones.

Unlike other former rebel strongholds, Badakhshan has been less of a
worry for central government over the years. In eastern valleys nearer
to Dushanbe, there have been sporadic incidents since the civil war,
which though localised, raised concerns of a Sunni Islamic insurgency
with possible links to the Taleban or al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. (See
Tajikistan: Islamic Militancy No Phantom Menace and Tajik Authorities
Struggle to Quell Militants.) People in Badakhshan are mostly Ismaili
Muslims, so that kind of link is of little direct concern.

Some experts argue that Badakhstan’s remote location and apparent
stability meant that officials in Dushanbe did not keep such a close
eye on things.

According to the editor of the Asia Plus newspaper, Marat Mamadshoev,
Badakhshan was the last region where the authorities have taken on the
former insurgent commanders.

“Operations like this one tackling civil war-era warlords have taken
place virtually everywhere in Tajikistan – in the Rasht valley, in
Soghd and in Kulob,” he said, naming regions in the east, north and
south of the country. “The majority of the [major] civil war
participants have either been killed or imprisoned.”

Left to their own devices, some of the ex-field commanders have built
up a strong presence in Badakhshan, perhaps leaving them with the
impression that they could defy the central authorities. In an
incident four years ago, a group led by one Muhammadbokir
Muhammadbokirov attacked the provincial offices of the interior

The names of several former guerrilla leaders come up in connection
with allegations of organised crime, above all the highly lucrative
trade in heroin from Afghanistan. The border is porous due to the
difficult terrain and lack of adequate patrols.

The ongoing military operation in Badakhshan is likely to shake the
powerbase of former warlords whose influence seems to have grown over
the last ten years or so.

Ayombekov, who has not been killed or captured, reportedly sent a
letter to President Rahmon, perhaps in the hope he would step in as a
kind of arbiter. It clearly did not work. The major-general’s murder
was a direct challenge to central government, and the response was a
show of force.

Political analyst Nurali Davlatov argues that the government should
carefully weigh the consequences that excessively heavy-handed action
could have in this distinctive part of Tajikistan. The Pamiri people
of Badakshan differ from the rest of the country in language, culture
and Islamic practice, and feel underrepresented in central government

“The use of force could strengthen separatism,” Davlatov said. “There
are differences of ethnic background and religion and – whatever
others might think – the Pamiris believe their rights are infringed

“If the government is able to draw a distinction between the ordinary
people and the warlords, then an escalation can be averted.”

Davlatov warned that if former field commanders were cornered but not
defeated, they might look for support from armed groups over the
border in Afghanistan, where he believes they already have
connections. That would lead to an expansion in the conflict that
Tajikistan’s military would be hard-pressed to cope with, he added.

Any failure to resolve the current situation is likely to place the
government under considerable international scrutiny, Davlatov said.
As a key Ismaili region, Badakhshan has benefited from development aid
from the Agha Khan Foundation – but so have other, non-Ismaili parts
of the country.

Lola Olimova is IWPR Tajikistan editor. Updated information from radio
editor Shahodat Saibnazarova.


Despite government programmes, women rarely make it past second-in-command.

By Gulafshon Sokieva - Central Asia

Despite legislation designed to secure gender equality, women rarely
make it beyond deputy positions in the Tajik government, and instead
remain stuck in the lower ranks or hit a glass ceiling after reaching
middle management.

Tajikistan has no female cabinet ministers, though the state committee
for women and family affairs is headed by a woman.

Marifat Shokirova, who heads the committee’s gender department, argues
that government efforts have resulted in improvements this year.

President Imomali Rahmon promoted nine women – almost all to deputy
positions – at the start of the year. Eight were promoted to become
deputy heads of government bodies including the agriculture ministry,
the committee on investment and state property management. and the
state electricity provider Bark-i Tojik.

A ninth woman was made head of the municipal government in the
northern town of Chkalovsk, becoming one of just four women nationwide
heading town or district authorities.

Oinikhol Bobonazarova, head of the Perspektiva Plus NGO, said she was
pleased with the number of women promoted, but disappointed by the
levels they had reached.

She questioned whether government officials were taking a presidential
decree on women’s promotion too literally.

President Rahmon issued a decree in 1999 that paved the way towards
positive discrimination and sought to improve female representation in
parliament, the judiciary and the government.

The decree tasked the government with promoting deserving female
candidates to deputy positions in ministries, government committees
and agencies, state-run companies, local government, the prosecution
service and the courts.

While this was intended to empower women, experts like Bobonazarova
fear its real effect has been to hold them in check.

“If we are talking about gender equality, why can’t a woman be a
leader?” Bobonazarova asked.

Times have changed since the decree was passed, in the immediate wake
of the 1992-97 civil war, she said, and women should no longer be
restricted to second-in-command positions.

Aside from the decree, the government has introduced programmes
including a nine-year strategy adopted in 2011, intended to help women
find employment in areas including business and politics.

An additional programme from 2007 to 2016 aimed to promote women to
leading positions in the government and NGOs, and to encourage
education for women. While these measures brought about some changes,
rights workers say more needs to be done.

The Tajikistan Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law said in 2011
that only five per cent of leading government posts were held by
women, and that there were no women leading provincial-level

As for the legislature, 12 of the 63 lawmakers in the lower house of
parliament are women, while of the upper house’s 25 members, five are

In the judiciary, the more than 70 court chairpersons include just
seven women, according to 2011 figures.

Officials recognise that there is a shortage of women in top government jobs.

“At the level of ministries and agencies, male bosses do not
understand the responsibility to assure gender equality,” Shokirova
said. “They still operate according to old stereotypes.”

On International Women’s Day, March 8, this year, the president noted
that there were too few women in top government positions.

Activists often blame the situation on pervasive social attitudes
towards female roles. Many in Tajikistan believe women’s main job is
to raise children, an attitude which politicians and the media

For example, Bobonazarova noted that International Women’s Day was
used to celebrate the role of mothers rather than women’s
accomplishments in the workplace.

Tajik journalist Jovid Mukim believes officials are wary of women with
leadership skills, and prefer them to display qualities like loyalty

Daler Sharifov, a young man from Dushanbe, said there was a lack of
positive female role models in the media. He also questioned how much
power female lawmakers really had.

“State TV channels portray women [as] only singers and dancers. We do
not have women who are really active in public life.… Women
represented in parliament are just a token gesture,” he said. “Why
can’t our women lead big enterprises like women do in Russia?”

Matluba Uljabaeva, head of the Tajik Association of Small and
Medium-Sized Enterprises, believes women can compete against men in
any area of public life, but traditional mindsets among government
officials have driven many educated and skilled women into the NGO

“Those who had knowledge and experience of being in leading positions
[during Soviet times], and who spoke foreign languages, established
themselves as NGO activists,” Uljabaeva said.

In the NGO sector, she added, women are confined to campaigning from
the sidelines, rather than deciding and leading on policy.

Gulafshon Sokieva is an IWPR-trained journalist in Dushanbe.

**** http://iwpr.net/ **********************************************************

REPORTING CENTRAL ASIA provides the international community with a
unique insiders' perspective on the region. Using our network of local
journalists, the service publishes news and analysis from across
Central Asia on a weekly basis.

The service forms part of IWPR's Central Asia Project based in Almaty,
Bishkek, Tashkent and London, which supports media development and
encourages better local and international understanding of the region.

IWPR's Reporting Central Asia is supported by the UK Community Fund.
The service is published online in English and Russian.

The opinions expressed in Reporting Central Asia are those of the
authors and do not necessarily represent those of the publication or
of IWPR.

REPORTING CENTRAL ASIA: Editor-in-Chief: Anthony Borden; Senior Editor
and Acting Managing Editor: John MacLeod; Central Asia Programme
Director: Abakhon Sultonnazarov; Central Asia Editor: Saule

Borden; Head of Programmes: Sam Compton.

**** http://iwpr.net/ **********************************************************

IWPR – Giving Voice, Driving Change

To contact IWPR please go to: http://iwpr.net/contact

IWPR - Europe, 48 Gray’s Inn Road, London WC1X 8LT, UK
Tel: +44 20 7831 1030

IWPR – United States, 729 15th Street, NW Suite 500, Washington, DC
20005, United States
Tel: +1 202 393 5641

Stichting IWPR Nederland, Eisenhowerlaan 77 K, 2517 KK Den Haag, The Netherlands
Tel: +31 70 338 9016

For further details on this project and other information services and
media programmes, go to: http://iwpr.net/

ISSN: 1477-7924 Copyright © 2009 The Institute for War & Peace Reporting

**** http://iwpr.net/ **********************************************************

Reply via email to