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The Role of the International Community

Tajikistan’s principal donors neglected the need to exert any substantial influence on the consistently deteriorating human rights situation. In late 1997, a U.N.-sponsored donors’ conference pledged a total of U.S.$280 million toward the peace and reconciliation process even as two French aid workers were being held hostage by an outlawed armed group. The World Bank approved credits totaling $230 million for 1998-2001, for economic restructuring and rehabilitation (including in the Karategin Valley), while the IMF gave $148 million. The World Bank released one of the $50 million tranches only ten days after the July 20 murder of four UNMOT officials in the Karategin Valley. A World Bank consultative group meeting in May, held on the heels of some of the most serious UTO-government fighting since the height of the civil war, granted more than $280 million; $60 million of it was humanitarian aid.

United Nations

UNMOT’s mandate in 1998 included coordinating U.N. assistance to Tajikistan during the peace process, monitoring the demobilization process and cease-fire violations, and supporting the work of the CNR. But it looked on helplessly as virtually every deadline of the peace agreement implementation schedule went by unheeded, and as its own staff was increasingly targeted. The July UNMOT murders resulted in the relocation of all U.N. staff to the capital, a relocation of non-essential international staff outside of the country, and a suspension of technical and humanitarian programs. UNMOT’s mandate was extended until November 15, 1998. UNHCR assisted in the repatriation of more than 1,200 Tajik refugees from Turkmenistan and began repatriation of some 16,000 in Kyrgyzstan.

Policy of the Republic of Uzbekistan

Despite significant progress on the political front, represented by several bilateral agreements and the establishment of an embassy in Dushanbe, in practice Uzbekistan exacerbated the failings of the peace process. It formed a troika with Russia and Tajikistan to combat Islamic “fundamentalism” in Central Asia, and the UTO subsequently warned that this action could “prompt retaliation, conflict, and resumption of the armed confrontation.” Uzbekistan accused Tajikistan of training Islamic militants, including UTO elements, alleging that they were sponsoring unrest in the Fergana Valley in late 1997, and claiming they sought to install an Islamic government in Tajikistan. Uzbekistan also continued to deny Tajik accusations that Uzbekistan gave refuge toousted Tajik commander Mahmud Khudoyberdiyev and his forces, reported to have conducted in 1998 several fatal attacks against local Tajik government officials.

Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)

The OSCE continued important monitoring of human rights abuses both in Dushanbe and through its field offices in Kurgan-Tiube, Shaartuz, Dusti, and Garm, the latter of which became operational in 1998. Reporting on specific human rights violations before the Permanent Council increased and included reports on abuses by security forces and organized criminal groups in the Kulab and Pianj regions. The OSCE did little individual follow-up on these abuses, however, squandering its ability to secure improvements and compromising its role as principal guarantor of the development of human rights and democratic institutions during the transition period. Although the OSCE conducted visits to Leninabad, its failure to open a field office in Khujand also contributed to the general isolation of Leninabad.

United States

At the end of September, the U.S. embassy announced an indefinite closure due to “insufficient security guarantees,” citing the unfinished construction of its new embassy in Dushanbe and a general security threat following U.S. air strikes against Afghanistan and Sudan. This marked the first closure of a U.S. embassy in the former Soviet Union, and many people feared this would push the country into further obscurity and isolation. As of this writing, U.S.-funded NGOs and USAID continued their activities in the country.

Relevant Human Rights Watch report:

Tajikistan: Crackdown in Leninabad , 4/98





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