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Tajikistan: Rahmon’s luck has come to an end, and Saudis will not feed his country

Emomali Rahmon close to lifetime presidency. Photo: RIA Novosti

Trial over the arrested members of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), which is recognized an extremist party in Tajikistan, has started behind the closed doors in Dushanbe. The court is hearing the cases against 13 members of the IRPT Political Council. Charges have been brought against 199 people for plotting a coup d’état. Human rights defenders, a number of well-known foreign politicians say the process is politically motivated, at least the part that concerns IRPT.

All the defendants were arrested in September 2015 and accused of co-partnership with General Abuhalim Nazarzoda (Hoji Halim) who was liquidated together with a group of his supporters by the security forces that remain committed to their oath. Government officials said Nazarzoda had been preparing a coup d’état for at least five years. The ideological leader and funder was IRPT leader Muhiddin Kabiri. Other outstanding members of the party controlled and coordinated the actions of insurgents. However, Dushanbe failed to bring responsible all those involved in the process. EADaily has repeatedly reported that Muhiddin Kabiri is abroad. In addition, the Tajik government is trying to put another 40 people on the international wanted list - “trying” as it is not fact that they will manage to do it. Meantime, Interpol refused to put Kabiri on the wanted list for what it called insufficient charges. Should an opportunity arise, Kabiri keeps disclaiming any accusations. He insists that Nazarzoda’s insurgency became a reason for the authorities to ban the activity of the IRPT in the territory of Tajikistan.

Arkady Dubnov, political analyst, expert on Central Asia, told an EADaily correspondent that there are many blind spots in the insurgency led by General Nazarzoda. “For instance, the names of the insurgents that were liquidated during the special operations are not known. The authorities promised to name all of them, but they have named just few of them. Meantime, by official data, nearly 40 supporters of the insurgent general were killed. This questions the official version of the operation,” Dubnov said.

Association for Human Rights in Central Asia (AHRCA) has made a statement wherein it urged the EU, U.S., OSCE and other international partners of Dushanbe “to demand impartial and fair trials, where the principle of equality of arms is upheld. Those who are guilty of torture and ill-treatment should be held accountable.” AHRCA believes that the accusations against IRPT members are based on the testimonies got through tortures. The investigation has no legal proofs, the association says. “The prosecutor has already signed the indictment and the criminal case has been submitted to the court… In such situation, the verdict has been announced actually and the trial is formal,” AHRCA says in the statement.

Muhiddin Kabiri who is abroad now commented to EADaily on the developments in Dushanbe. Kabiri believes that none of the arrested IRPT members are guilty. “Our party has always been committed to peaceful resolution of any conflict. We have always been for negotiations and search of concessions. Our protest has never gone beyond peaceful actions. Now, after all, I do not regret that our party has always been committed to the peaceful and constructive form of protest,” Kabiri said.

The public in Tajikistan also think that the trial outcome is predetermined and that the authorities cancelled all the agreements once made with the opposition. Meantime, those agreements put an end to a bloody civil war that claimed 150,000 lives and made 1 million people flee the country. The authorities are clearing the political field of dissidents and paving the way for absolute government of Emomali Rahmon who has been governing Tajikistan for 25 years already. To that end, it is necessary just to push through the constitutional amendments through a referendum scheduled for May 22.

EADaily has reported earlier that if the constitutional amendments are approved, the basic changes will concern the following:

·             Emomali Rahmon, who has been ruling Tajikistan for 24 years already, will be granted an opportunity to be re-elected countless number of times.

·             Rustem, elder son of the president, will be granted the right to run for presidency at the next election thanks to lowering the age qualification.

·             The political parties having national or religious basis will be deprived of the right to be registered and participate in the political life of the country.

·             Funding of parties and non-governmental political organizations from abroad will be banned.

“All this will enable the authorities to retain their grip on power through more repressions that will result in more protests. The situation in the country is volatile, fraught with destabilization,” Dubnov told EADaily.

“I rule out emergence of political opposition or fight inside the political elite,” Dr. Alexey Malashenko, a member of the Carnegie Moscow Center's Scientific Council, told EADaily. “Yet I don’t rule out a public rebellion – ‘a Russia-style severe and merciless rebellion’ performed by Tajiks. Colonel Gulmurod Khalimov’s joining ISIL (an extremist organization banned in Russia and other countries), General Abduhalim Nazarzoda’s insurgency was just forerunner of it.”

Malashenko believes that a strong Islamic opposition – not moderate and negotiable like IRPT – may emerge in Tajikistan in due course. It may get support of Afghanistan. “In vain President Rahmon pins hopes with external support. He has overstayed his time and has had enough of his own people and global actors due to his volatility, first. We have predicted hungry rebellions in Tajikistan that will put an end to his government, but they have been postponed so far. At present, Rahmon hopes for Saudi Arabia’s support. Perhaps, either he has forgotten or did not know that Saudis do not feed anyone for no reason. They will feed Tajikistan so that it will receive not only food but also Hizb ut-Tahrir and others. Then, the Tajik leadership will not find it funny. I will put it baldly – Rahmon has had a very good luck so far. However, the luck is not endless,” Dr. Malashenko told EADaily.

EADaily Central Asian Bureau

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