Majlis Podcast: Tensions In Tajikistan’s Gorno-Badakhshan

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Tensions have been high in eastern Tajikistan’s Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast since November, when the leader of the region was changed and shortly afterward 28-year-old local resident Gulbiddin Ziyobekov was shot dead by police. Police say they were trying to place Ziyobek under arrest for allegedly assaulting a local official.

Ziyobekov’s killing sparked four days of protests in the regional capital, Khorugh. Internet to the remote area has been cut ever since and the government has sent extra forces there.

Influential local residents, dubbed “informal leaders” by the government and the media, are facing arrest and members of the local population are preventing this from happening.

Natives of the region who are outside the country and have spoken up publicly against the government’s pressure in Gorno-Badakhshan have seemingly been forcibly brought back to face charges in Tajikistan.

Gorno-Badakhshan is a unique region in Tajikistan. People there are distinct from ethnic Tajiks and have lived in the remote mountains of the region for centuries.

There have been conflicts there before, some recently, and now people are wondering if fighting is set to break out again.

On this week's Majlis podcast, RFE/RL's media-relations manager for South and Central Asia, Muhammad Tahir, moderates a discussion on what has been happening in Gorno-Badakhshan.

This week’s guests are: from Geneva, Subhiya Mastonshoeva, who is originally from Gorno-Badakhshan but is currently a graduate student at the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law and the author a recently published report about the region; from the United States, Suzanne Levi-Sanchez, author of the book Bridging State And Civil Society: Informal Organizations In Tajik/Afghan Badakhshan; from Prague, Sirojiddin Tolibov, managing editor of RFE/RL’s Tajik Service, known locally as Ozodi; and Central Asia analyst Bruce Pannier.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.