On November 25, just 3 days after 17th EU-Central Asia Ministerial meeting in Dushanbe, headed by High Representative/Vice President Josep Borrell and Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen, incompetent and criminal actions of the Tajikistan law enforcement resulted in deaths of Gulbiddin Ziyobekov, Tutisho Amirshoev and Gulnazar Murodbekov, aged between 20–29 years and instigated days long protests of residents of Gorno-Badakhshan.
Acting on orders from the local prosecutor, armed law enforcement agents took Gulbiddin Ziyobekov from his home. After a short while his body with со следами 6 пулевых отверстий и один в голову a bullet hole in his head was returned to his relatives. The prosecutorial order was based on a fabricated criminal case against Gulbiddin Ziyobekov. Earlier, Gulbiddin and other residents of the Roshtkala district stood up for their female relative, who became a victim of sexual harassment and assault by the newly appointed assistant district prosecutor. Video evidence of this was circulated last year but did not lead to legal actions against the perpetrator. Instead, prosecutor initiated a criminal case against Gulbiddin this year in retaliation for his attempt to protect the female victim of sexual harassment. As Gulbiddin was being arrested, law enforcement also shot another civilian, who died later from injuries. People brought bodies to the square in Khorog requesting justice. During the protests in Khorog the security forces indiscriminately fired at the protesting crowd, injuring at least 15, one of whom died as well.
This is not the first-time authorities have used excessive force against its citizens, committing extrajudicial killings in Khorog.
On July 2012, during the alleged special law enforcement operation 23 civilians were killed. Independent sources reported greater numbers of casualties among the general population. International human rights watchdogs have not been able to verify the casualty reports. Despite multiple inquiries from the UN Human Rights Council the authorities have not conducted any investigation themselves and have not allowed any independent international investigation into the incident.
In 2014 during mismanaged police operation in GBAO’s capital, Khorog left 3 civilians dead.
In November 2018 the police wounded two men in Khorog which led to widespread protests.
In May 2020 use of excessive force by law enforcement led to serious injuries among civilian population in Rushan district.
None of these incidents were adequately investigated.
In 2018 during his visit to Khorog President Rakhmon told his security chiefs: “There are 2,000 government employees in Khorog, and you cannot even deal with five or six criminals? I will take responsibility for this myself – if you need, use live arms”. So its clear, that he bears full and direct responsibility over bloodshed in GBAO. Its happening on his orders”, said Alim Sherzamonov, deputy leader of National Aliance of Tajikistan.
Protests in Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO) also left citizens unable to access online content or maintain communication. Shortly after protests began in the administrative center of GBAO, Khorog on 25th November 2021, the internet and mobile connection was cut off in the entire region.
We call on Tajik authorities to immediately cease all violent actions, de-militarise Khorog and other cities, restore all forms of communication in GBAO without delay, investigate and punish those responsible for extrajudicial execution of Gulbiddin Ziyobekov and indiscriminate shooting of protesters in the square that led to death of Tutisho Amirshoev, Gulnazar Murodbekov and left dozens injured, investigate and punish the assistant prosecutor Abdusalom Abirzoda, responsible for sexual harassment of the female GBAO resident and fabrication of the criminal case against Gulbiddin Ziyobekov and his death in retaliation for his effort to defend her.
Association for Central Asian Migrants
NGO “Freedom for Eurasia”
Buzurgmehr Yorov Foundation
Tajik Center for Human Rights
The Civil Committee for the Protection of Political Hostages and Prisoners in Tajikistan