Tajiks mark 20 uneasy years of peace

Tajiks mark 20 uneasy years of peace

Tajikistan is marking the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Tajik Peace Accord that ended a five-year civil war between the secular government and the coalition of Islamic forces. Vahdat, near the capital, Dushanbe, hosted an official celebratory events on June 27 with a speech by President Emomali Rahmon and a concert.

Security was increased in the town ahead of the event in the city’s sports stadium.

Markets have been closed and public transport has been cancelled.

The peace agreement that ended the war has dropped key features, such as the incorporation of opposition representatives into the government, meeting a 30-per-cent quota and the relaxation media restrictions, were never implemented in full or have been eroded over time. The United Tajik Opposition (UTO) no longer exists, and its major component, the Islamic Renaissance Party, has been driven from government after almost two decades of trying to share power.

The peace deal between Rahmon and Said Abdullo Nuri, the leader of the UTO, was signed in Moscow after a series of talks brokered by the United Nations.

The deal included a political settlement that would give 30 per cent of government positions to the UTO.

Dushanbe has since banned the Islamic Renaissance Party that was officially registered during the peace process. In 2015 Tajikistan’s Supreme Court declared the party a “terrorist” organisation and jailed party leaders on terrorism-related charges.

Rahmon, who has been ruling Tajikistan since 1992, is accused of suppressing dissent and widespread corruption.

The designated guarantors of the 1997 peace deal, neighbours like Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, the UN, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe have ignored Rahmon’s consolidation of his position.

Rahmon, who dropped the “ov” from his name since the civil war, enforces the title “The Founder of Peace and National Unity — Leader of the Nation.”

Estimates are unreliable but somewhere between 25,000 and 100,000 people died during the five-year civil war.

Celebrating the anniversary of the peace accord in Vahdat, Rahmon stressed the need for unity without acknowledging the causes of division.

Tajik journalist Bakhtiyor Sobiri wrote recently that those visiting Dushanbe’s new Chinese-built Tajik national museum “may find it strange that the exhibition on ‘modern and contemporary history of Tajikistan’ makes no mention of the civil war. At Rahmon’s decree, these bloody years have no place in the national museum. The only acceptable way to speak about the war publicly is when attacking the opposition.”

Twenty years after the war ended, many of the leaders are dead or in prison and the future of Tajikistan remains bleak.

A rally on Shakhidon square in 1992, proclaiming independence in Tajikistan that was followed by the religious civil war. Picture credit: Wikimedia 

 

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