U.S. Embassy In Tajikistan Concerned Over Internet Blockage In Gorno-Badakhshan

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DUSHANBE -- The U.S. Embassy in Tajikistan has called on the Central Asian nation's government to secure full Internet reconnection for residents of the volatile Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO), who have been living without access to the Internet since mass anti-government protests in November.

In a tweet on March 16, the embassy expressed concerns regarding the lack of Internet access in the region's capital, Khorugh, and adjacent districts.

"The U.S. Embassy remains concerned about Internet blockage in GBAO which impacts the ability of residents to access information, run businesses, and exercise freedom of expression. We call on Tajikistan to respect this fundamental freedom, and to restore full Internet access," the embassy's statement said.

The protests in Khorugh broke out on November 25 last year after security forces fatally wounded a local man wanted on charges of kidnapping. The protesters demanded a probe into his death.

The rally turned violent when protesters tried to seize the local government building, prompting security forces to fire into the crowd, killing at least one person.

Violence continued for several days.

Protests are rare in the tightly controlled nation of 9.5 million where President Emomali Rahmon has ruled for nearly three decades.

Tensions between the government and residents of the restive region have simmered ever since a five-year civil war broke out shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

GBAO, a linguistically and ethnically distinct region, has been home to rebels who opposed government forces during the conflict.

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