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Human Rights Developments
The political, social and economic situation in Tajikistan remained unstable in 1995, three years after the end of the Tajik civil war, which had resulted in 20,000 to 50,000 dead and produced over 800,000 refugees and displaced persons. Despite the government's ostensible goal of reconciliation, the presidential elections of November 1994, held in a climate marred by intimidation and fraud, were followed by similarly flawed parliamentary elections in February 1995. The regional animosities that exacerbated, and ultimately overshadowed, the ideological conflicts of the civil war continued to generate violence in 1995.

U.N.-sponsored peace negotiations between the Afghanistan-based Tajik opposition and theTajik government in early 1995 and a meeting between the opposition leader Seyyed Abdollah Nuri and President Emomali Rahmanov in mid-1995 had limited success in furthering national reconciliation. The September 1994 cease-fire agreement was, however, extended to February 1996, although armed clashes continued along the Tajik-Afghan border. Failure in implementing confidence-building measures, such as prisoner exchanges, endangered the viability of further talks to be held before the end of 1995. Peace in Tajikistan was further endangered by the Tajik government's inability to exercise centralized control over large areas of the country, resulting in pro-government paramilitary and military forces' acting with near impunity even in the Kuliab area (south of Dushanbe), the residents of which dominate the government.

As in 1994, civil and political rights violations occurred throughout Tajikistan, even though there was a decline in the number of summary executions, disappearances and murders. In general, the government made no attempt to investigate such incidents or punish the perpetrators. In particular, a climate of fear and intimidation reigned over the Gharm region (northeast of Dushanbe) and in Kafarnihan (east of Dushanbe), where government forces continued to harass, detain, and abuse individuals, targeting in particular young men of Gharmi and Pamiri origin who were perceived to be opposition sympathizers. The presence of various opposition groups in the mountains of the Gharm region and a military build-up by the government there greatly increased tensions in that region.

Human Rights Watch/Helsinki received frequent reports of illegal searches of homes, as well as violations of due process rights of detainees, including the right to legal counsel, the right to a fair and public hearing by an impartial tribunal, and the right to be tried without undue delay. Many individuals detained even for short periods reported systematic beatings and torture in detention centers. In the Gharm area alone, at least six individuals died in detention or as a result of brutal beatings, torture, and shootings by the official militia forces. In addition, despite the announcement of several amnesties, the government continued to hold scores of political prisoners, and to detain without trial many who were arrested in early 1993 for having exercised their right to legitimate nonviolent dissent.

The government also maintained its suspension of opposition newspapers and continued to censor independent journalists. Editors of independent newspapers, who had already been practicing self-censorship, were regularly harassed by the government. As a result of the tight official control over the registration of new newspapers and paper distribution, no new journals emerged.

The Right to Monitor

Although more than forty associations and foundations have received official registration since 1990, including several dealing with human rights and women's issues, no indigenous nongovernmental organization confronted the government over human rights violations. Human rights were monitored by a small international community including several U.N. agencies, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) mission to Tajikistan, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). In addition, Human Rights Watch/Helsinki has had a representative stationed in Dushanbe since 1994. Despite unsatisfactory response to our written and verbal protests, government officials did not directly interfere in our activities and on numerous occasions acknowledged, albeit with reservations, the importance of our interventions. The ICRC continued to be denied universal access to prisoners. In general, however, the government cooperated with the UNHCR and IOM in the repatriation and integration of returnees.

The Role of the International Community

The United Nations
Under the auspices of the U.N., further talks were held between the government and the opposition, with limited success. The U.N. Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT), established by the Security Council in December 1994 for six months and later extended to December 1995, monitored the cease-fire agreement between government and opposition forces. The UNHCR played a key role in facilitating repatriation and in protecting the human rights of Tajik refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). But unfortunately, it also decided in September 1994 to reduce its operations in Tajikistan by late 1995, despite continued security problems facing refugee and IDP returnees, leaving protection and human rights monitoring functions to the OSCE, which lacks experience in such operations. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) initiated several programs to promote community development and to develop income generating projects for women.

The European Community
The OSCE mission to Tajikistan was established in December 1993 and became operational in February 1994. Despite its broad mandate including the promotion of human rights, the OSCE focused in its first year on legislative reform, evaluating a draft Tajik constitution and electoral laws, with limited success because of its inability to engage the government in a meaningful dialogue and because some of its efforts at legislative review occurred after passage of relevant laws. In July 1995, the Permanent Council of the OSCE decided to monitor and report on the human rights situation in the country, including the rights of IDP and refugee returnees. By October, however, the OSCE had failed to field the staff necessary to undertake those functions, especially with regards to monitoring the rights of those refugees and IDPs returning to the south. The OSCE also recommended that the government establish a human rights ombudsman and began reviewing a government proposal to create such a position. In general, the OSCE was reluctant to address individual cases of human rights violation, and as of this writing, it was unclear how the OSCE would be able to implement its human rights mandate without doing so.

Russian Federation Policy

The Russian government continued to take a special interest in Tajikistan. Several agreements between the Russian and Tajik governments significantly strengthened Moscow's economic ties with the republic and provided for greater military involvement. The reinforced 201st Motorized Rifle Division continued to form the bulk of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) peacekeeping forces established in 1993. Despite their peacekeeping mandate, the forces are alleged by several sources to be involved in the hostilities. Russia also sought to safeguard the rights of ethnic Russians in Tajikistan.

U.S. Policy
The Tajikistan section of the State Depart-ment's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1994 described a broad spectrum of human rights abuses committed by both the government and the opposition. However, the report gave insufficient attention to the security problems facing IDP and refugee returnees in the south, an issue that would become particularly important as the UNHCR planned to turn over its monitoring and protection functions in that area to the OSCE. Representatives of the U.S. Embassy in Tajikistan frequently raised human rights concerns with the government and intervened before the government on behalf of victims of violations.

The Work of Human Rights Watch/Helsinki
Human Rights Watch/Helsinki established an office in Tajikistan in April 1994. Our goal in 1995 was to continue monitoring the post-war transition period and to urge those governments with interests in Tajikistan to condition military aid and non-humanitarian economic assistance on improvement in the government's human rights record. We also sought to engage the Tajik government, at both the national and local levels, in dialogue on human rights issues. We intervened regularly before the General Procuracy and the Ministries of Internal Affairs and Security on behalf of individuals who had suffered human rights violations, and briefed multilateral organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and journalists on the current conditions in the country. Intervention by Human Rights Watch/Helsinki in mid-1995 was instrumental in suspending the return of internally displaced persons from Badakhshan in the absence of sufficient safeguards.

In May, Human Rights Watch/Helsinki released the report Return to Tajikistan: Continued Regional and Ethnic Tensions. In September, we submitted to the OSCE a critique of the activities of the OSCE's mission to Tajikistan. A report on human rights violations in the Gharm region was in preparation as of this writing.

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