Kyrgyz communities in Tajikistan isolated and stranded by border tension

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Until last year, ethnic Kyrgyz people were able to cross into neighboring Kyrgyzstan with their Tajik passports. Now they must first travel to a third country, an option few can afford.

 

Eurasianet says the predicament is the product of border tensions. Following a bout of fighting in the spring of 2021, both governments all but shuttered overland frontier crossings, instantly killing petty trade and causing heartache for families.

 

A mounting number of ethnic Kyrgyz people are reportedly looking to leave Tajikistan. It is mostly the older generation that is staying put across three Tajik areas – Isfara district in the north, Lakhshh district in the Rashht Valley (eastern Tajikistan) and Murgab district in the Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO).

 

Eurasianet reports that according to the latest available figures, there are 65,000 ethnic Kyrgyz in the country, although intercommunal tensions in recent times mean that number is now almost certainly far smaller.

 

Ethnic Kyrgyz people are to all intents and purposes marginalized in Tajikistan. They have little role in public life; anybody that can leaves for Kyrgyzstan or Russia for a better life. If there were many villages a decade ago that were entirely Kyrgyz that is less often the case today.

 

The isolation of Kyrgyz communities has reportedly been deepened by the recurring unrest on the contested perimeter along the far southwest of Kyrgyzstan and the northeast of Tajikistan. And it is getting worse. Every time violence flares, heavier weaponry is used, sentiments grow bitterer. In this September’s fighting well over 100 people, from both sides of the border, were killed.

 

The breaking point arrived in 2021. Until that time, ethnic Kyrgyz people were able to cross into neighboring Kyrgyzstan with their Tajik passports. Now they can travel to Kyrgyzstan by first going to a third country.

 

Source: Asia-Plus