ARMED CONFLICT IN THE WORLD TODAY: TAJIKISTAN

Prepared by

Karen Parker, J.D.
Anne Heindel, J.D.
Adam Branch Humanitarian Law Project/
International Educational Development

and

PARLIAMENTARY HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP (UK)

SPRING 2000


Statement:

The situation in Tajikistan is a civil war.

Background:

In 1992, soon after Tajikistan became independent from the former Soviet Union, an uprising took place against R. Nabiyev, its first president and leader of the coalition made up of primarily Muslim groups from traditionally underrepresented areas of the country, led by the Popular Front of Tajikistan (PFT). Emomali Rakhmanov, backed by the PFT, became head-of-state in 1992. The PFT had the support of Russia, Uzbekistan and several Afghan factions. The Muslim groups, now outside the government, became the United Tajik Opposition (UTO) and created their own army. Both sides used mercenaries during the subsequent civil war. After the PFT won a military victory in 1993 over the UTO, over 300,000 Muslim Tajiks fled to Afghanistan and Turkmenistan, 700,000 were displaced, and more than 50,000 were killed.

Emomali Rakhmanov was elected president in November 1994. His government security forces have been accused of murdering and torturing civilians, including returning refugees. In addition to the remaining UTO forces, he faced numerous other armed opposition factions (the largest of which is the National Revival Movement, NRM) and controlled only portions of the country. The conflict involves clan and regional rivalries, with the PTF mainly the Kulyab clan. The UTO is primarily from Garm and the NRM from Khodzhent.

A protocol was signed by the United Nations and the government in January 1997 for the return of tens of thousands of refugees. However, in February 1997 UTO leader Bakhram Sadirov kidnapped 4 workers from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), 4 other UN staff, 2 Russian journalists and the Tajikistan security minister in Dushanbe. Sadirov demanded that his brother and his forces be allowed to return from Afghanistan. After four UN observers were murdered in July 1998, the International Committee of the Red Cross temporarily suspended its activities in the country.

Mahmood Khodabardiyev, an Uzbek general, rebelled against the PTF government twice in 1997. Bilateral agreements signed by Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in January 1998 were expected to reduce tensions between the Uzbek minority in Tajikistan and the new government. The Uzbeks constitute about 24% of the population.

Current Situation:

The UTO signed a peace agreement with the PTF government in June 1997 that gives the UTO 30% of a new coalition government, legalizes opposition parties, provides for integration of UTO soldiers into the national armed forces, and calls for the return of the refugees. UTO leader Said Abdullo Nuri is currently head of the National Reconciliation Commission, an interim coalition government equally divided between the old government and the UTO.

In November 1998, Mahmood Khodabardiyev staged his third rebellion, demanding the freeing of political prisoners and a 40% share of power on the National Commission. His troops were made up of former supporters from Kurgen-Tyube, people from Leninabad, and possibly Afghan fighters under Uzbek General Abdul Rashid Dostrum. Defeated in three days, there were over 300 military killed and at least 200 civilians wounded. The Tajik government has accused Uzbekistan of training the rebel Uzbeks and providing refuge upon their defeat.

The UTO disbanded its forces in August 1999, and a nation-wide disarmament campaign took place; however, only small numbers of weapons were turned over, and few UTO fighters have been integrated into the government forces. Violence and crime continue to be serious problems and several bombings took place in Dashanbe during 1999.

President Rakhmanov was reelected in November 1999; however, two opposition candidates were prevented from participating. The Islamic Renewal Party decided not to boycott the elections at the last minute after assurances from Rakhmanov that the upcoming parliamentary elections would be fairly held and he promised to release 100 Islamic militants. There was an attempt to assassinate Vice-Prime Minister Khodja Akbar Turadjonzoda in February 2000, two weeks before parliamentary elections were due to be held.

Most refugees living in Afghanistan have been repatriated. Over 50,000 people have died as a result of the conflict.

UN Action:

UNMOT/CIS (12/94-present).

SC Res 1274 (10/22/99). SC Res 1240 (5/15/99).

SC Res 1206 (11/12/98). SC Res 1167 (5/14/98).

SC Res 1138 (11/14/97). SC Res 1128 (9/12/97).

SC Res 1113 (6/12/97). SC Res 1099 (3/14/97).

SC Res 1089 (12/13/96). SC Res 1061 (6/14/96).

SC Res 1030 (12/14/95). SC Res 999 (6/16/95).

SC Res 968 (12/16/94).

GA Res 54/96A (12/8/99).

GA Res 53/1 K (12/7/98). GA Res 52/169I (12/16/97).

GA Res 46/228 (3/2/92).

Rpt S-G (S/2000/214). Rpt S-G (S/2000/387).

Rpt S-G (S/1999/514). Rpt S-G (S/1999/124).

Rpt S-G (S/1998/1029). Interim Rpt S-G (S/1998/754 & Add.1).

Rpt S-G (S/1998/374). Prog Rpt S-G (S/1998/113).

Rpt S-G (S/1997/859). Rpt S-G (S/1997/686 & Add.1).

Rpt S-G (S/1997/415). Rpt S-G (S/1997/198).

Rpt S-G (S/997/56). Rpt S-G (S/1995/105).

Rpt S-G (S/1994/1363). Rpt S-G (S/1994/1102).

Rpt S-G (S/1994/893). Rpt S-G (S/1994/716).

Rpt S-G (S/1994/542). Rpt S-G (S/1994/379).

Rpt S-G (S/26743). Rpt S-G (S/26311).

Report of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances:

E/CN.4/1994/26; E/CN.4/1995/36; E/CN.4/1996/38; E/CN.4/1997/34; E/CN.4/1998/43; E/CN.4/1999/62.

Report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention:

E/CN.4/1995/31 & Add.2.

Report of the Special Rapporteur on Torture:

Nigel S. Rodley: E/CN.4/1994/31.

Report of the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions:

Bacre Waly N’diaye: E/CN.4/1994/7; E/CN.4/1995/61; E/CN.4/1996/4; E/CN.4/1997/60 & Add.1; E/CN.4/1998/68 & Add.1.

Asma Jahangir: E/CN.4/1999/39 & Add.1; E/CN.4/2000/3 & Add.1.

Report on Internally Displaced:

Francis M. Deng: E/CN.4/1993/35; E/CN.4/1997/43.

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Question of the Use of Mercenaries:

Enrique Bernales Ballesteros: E/CN.4/1994/23.

Report of Special Rapporteur on the Elimination of Religious Intolerance:

Abdelfattah Amor: E/CN.4/2000/65.

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