Archive for the ‘Language’ Category

Hello all; first of all, I am sorry for my hiatus from posts (paucity of posting) for such a long time, but also, I am happy to say that I have found a new home on the web, and I will be once again posting much more frequently!


From now on, I will be posting about Tajikistan at

I hope you will head over and check us out.


Over on Global Voices there is a really interesting post and discussion on LGBT rights and discrimination in Tajikistan (hit the link for more):

Gay issues are a taboo subject in Tajikistan. Although the country decriminalized homosexuality fifteen years ago, there is still very little tolerance toward sexual minorities within its conservative society. In addition to homophobic attitudes, those rare individuals who dare to disclose their ‘unconventional’ sexual orientation become easy targets of physical and psychological abuse, including from police (pdf). As a result, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community remains ”one of the most closed and secretive parts of Tajik society”.

A recent discussion in the country’s blogosphere offers a rare glimpse into what it means to be gay in Tajikistan and how the country’s people view members of the LGBT community.

‘It means PAIN…’

The discussion started after blogger Rishdor wrote [ru] about a violent incident at his university. Students there found out that one of their classmates was a gay. Rishdor writes [ru]:

Как-то все восприняли это как личную обиду. Гомика решили проучить. Человек 8 однокурсников избили его в туалете. Жестоко избили, у него все лицо и костюм были в крови…

For some reason, everyone took it as a personal offence. It was decided that the [gay] should be taught a lesson. About eight of our classmates beat him up in the bathroom. They beat him up badly; there was a lot of blood on his face and clothes…

via Tajikistan Remains ‘Hell for Gays’ · Global Voices.

Tajikistan in 2012: A Year in Review

The past year was an eventful one in Tajikistan on the economic, political and military fronts, with both domestic and regional ramifications. Importantly for Tajikistan’s economy, in May 2012, construction on the controversial hydroelectric Rogun Dam on the Vaksh River—a tributary of the Amu Darya river—was suspended following an order from the World Bank. The suspension reportedly put 5,000 people out of work and will remain in effect until the ecological impact study of the dam is completed. It is expected that the Word Bank’s feasibility study will be published this summer. Rogun is commonly seen to be at the heart of the hostility between Tajikistan and downstream Uzbekistan, which fears that the dam would severely damage Uzbekistani farmers’ ability to irrigate their cotton crops and would accelerate the ecological disaster in the Aral Sea. Uzbekistan has retaliated by periodically not allowing Tajikistan-bound rail and truck cargo to cross its borders and cutting off the flow of natural gas, exacerbating Tajikistan’s perennial energy shortages (Ozodi, January 1).

The year 2012 did however bring some good news for Tajikistan’s hopes of energy security with the news of the discovery of potentially huge hydrocarbon reserves in the Bokhtar region. The find was announced earlier this summer by the Canadian firm Tethys Petroleum and was deemed credible enough to attract investment from both the French energy giant Total and China’s National Oil and Gas Exploration and Development Corporation (CNODC) (Asia Plus, December 24, 2012). While further exploration needs to be done, the potential reserves of oil and gas are estimated to be more than enough to make Tajikistan a net exporter of hydrocarbons. Such a development would free Dushanbe from its energy reliance on Russia and Uzbekistan and no doubt influence its foreign policy calculations.

In December, Tajikistan joined the World Trade Organization, which local economists hope will lower domestic customs tariffs, curb the power of monopolies in certain sectors such as aviation, lower prices on domestic goods, and encourage foreign investment (BBC Tajik, December 11, 2012). On the other hand, some critics have raised concerns over the potential negative short-term effects on the competitiveness of Tajikistan’s two chief exports, aluminum and cotton. The country’s cotton industry is not only an important economic force but, given the continued existence in Tajikistan of Soviet-style collective farms (kolkhozy), an important socio-political institution as well.

On the political front, the big story looming in 2013 is the presidential election slated for November. The election will mark the first in Tajikistan since 2006 when Emomalii Rahmon secured his third term in office. That vote was boycotted by several opposition parties including the largest, the Islamic Renaissance Party (IRP). However, this time the opposition parties are expected to participate and possibly put forth a coalition candidate. Nonetheless, 2012 was a rough year for the opposition as both religious and political figures such as Muhiddin Kabiri (the head of the IRP) and Hoji Akbar Turajonzoda (prominent cleric and former deputy prime minister) were legally harassed, imprisoned (such as Umarali Quvatov, businessman and head of the exiled opposition group “Group 24”), and even killed (notably, Sabzali Mamadrizoev, head of the IRP in the remote Gorno-Badakhshan region). Since the last presidential vote in 2006, Rahmon has seen neighboring states and allies embroiled in contested elections and subsequent hostility (witness Iran’s 2009 presidential election, the 2010 coup in Kyrgyzstan as well as the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011-2012). Despite assurances from some quarters that the country’s civil war has bred a war-weary and politically disinterested population, the regime will likely increase the pressure on the opposition and consolidate its power during the run-up to the elections in anticipation of potential unrest. President Rahmon may attempt to secure his rule by exaggerating the threat of Islamic extremism and proffering himself as a bulwark against regional instability in the context of a post-2014 Afghanistan. However the unrest this summer in Tajikistan’s Gorno-Badakhshan that killed dozens was a sobering reminder of at least three things: 1) not all Tajikistanis are war weary, 2) not all threats to the regime are inspired by Islam, and 3) the regime underestimates the domestic and international backlash against such heavy-handed tactics.

via UNHCR | Refworld | Tajikistan in 2012: A Year in Review.

DUSHANBE, January 17 (RIA Novosti) – Tajikistan has once again blocked access to the popular social networking site Facebook, prolonging a months-long ordeal that has earned the Central Asian country widespread criticism.

The blocking order came from the chief of Tajikistan’s communications service, Beg Zukhurov, and also affects three other websites, including Radio Liberty’s Tajik service, Internet provider Telekom Tekhnolodzhi told RIA Novosti late Wednesday night.

This is the second time in nearly as many months the Tajik authorities have blocked Facebook access. Last November, access was cut off after officials found what they said was slanderous content that criticized the country’s leadership.

At the time, Zukhurov blasted the people responsible for the content, who he claimed were being “paid well” to post it. He also noted that officials were acting on the requests of “indignant Tajik citizens.”

The move earned criticism from the European Union, which in early December called on Tajikistan to relax control over the Internet amid concerns of a crackdown on freedom of speech.

The EU Delegation to Tajikistan noted “with concern that such obstruction occurs frequently in Tajikistan which raises questions about the state of media freedom,” according to a December 6 statement posted to its website.

The administration of President Emomali Rakhmon, who has been in office since 1994, has often come under fire for alleged corruption and undemocratic behavior.

via Tajikistan Blocks Facebook – Again | World | RIA Novosti.

Tajikistan is a transit point for one of the most lucrative drugs routes in the world.

Illegal drugs from neighbouring Afghanistan flood into the country on their way to Russia and Western Europe.

The rewards that come with trafficking the drugs can be hard to resist for Tajik people, who struggle to make a living along the country’s long and open border with Afghanistan.

In many Tajik villages on the border, villagers are sometimes recruited to help smuggle drugs along their journey into lucrative markets.

Prison sentences

Shadia (not her real name), a woman I met in a remote region near the Afghan border, knows only too well about the risks people in her village take when they give in to temptation.

“My husband wanted to buy some flour to make bread and agreed to carry some drugs,” she says.

“The police caught him along with his two brothers. Now they are all in prison.”

Unemployed and with no income, she is looking after her children by herself.

In this remote and impoverished rural community it is virtually impossible to find a job.

via BBC News – Recruiting drug couriers from Tajikistan.

An agreement on financing ‘Professional literacy programs for poverty reduction’ was signed in Dushanbe between the Republic of Tajikistan and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), AsiaPlus news agency reported on Saturday.

The total project cost is $ 11 million on a credit basis. The project will be implemented until 2016.

According to the Secretariat of the Tajik Finance Ministry, the agreement was signed by the Minister of Finance Safarali Najmiddinov and Vice – President of the IDB, Ahmet Tiktik.

The ‘Professional literacy programs for poverty reduction” are aimed to decrease poverty rates, especially in rural areas; training of young people and women by enhancing relevant professional literacy, practical skills and productivity.

via IDB to contribute $ 11 million to Tajikistan to reduce poverty – Trend.Az.

Not long ago Tajik police were forcing men to shave their beards, convinced a terrorist lurked behind every whisker. Now the health minister has recommended salons stop trimming Tajikistan’s chins lest dirty razors spread HIV.
Nusratullo Salimov said barbers are not doing enough to disinfect their shaving equipment, RIA Novosti quoted him as saying on January 10. The health minister emphasized, however, that the majority of Tajikistan’s new HIV infections are transmitted via dirty needles and unprotected sex. He gave no statistics for new infections from tainted razors.
Facial hair is a popular topic of official chatter in Tajikistan. In late 2010, a number of bewhiskered men told local media outlets they were being harassed by police. Some reported being stopped and forced to shave. At the time, an Interior Ministry spokesman confirmed police were detaining “suspicious” men sporting long beards as part of their search for members of banned Islamic sects. Muslim men, moderate and radical alike, often wear beards out of reverence for the Prophet Muhammad.
More recently, in November, a new injunction sponsored by the State Committee on Religious Affairs reportedly prohibited men from wearing beards longer than their fists, though some officials later denied the existence of any rules. (Ironically, across the border in Afghanistan, the Taliban were once said to forbid men from wearing beards shorter than fist-length.)
The beard vs razor debate will likely overshadow a more pressing issue. HIV is spreading rapidly along the heroin trafficking routes that transit Tajikistan. And in Russia, where a million-odd Tajiks work as temporary laborers – and often engage in risky sex before returning home to their wives – the UN says there are 200 new HIV infections every day. Salimov said the number of new cases in Tajikistan shot up by 17 percent in 2012.

via Tajikistan Splits Facial Hairs |