25 september 2017

Central Asia news

Tajikistan can completely close OSCE mission

08.09.2017 16:30 msk

Fergana


The mission of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) can face its closure in Tajikistan if activists of the Islamic Revival Party (PIVT), banned in the republic, will take part in the annual Human Dimension Meeting in Warsaw in mid-September this year, the Khovar Tajik National News Agency reports referring the Hamsinf.com site.

"As it became known to us, PIVT members registered as participants of this conference, and Muhiddin Kabiri wanted by the International Police Interpol, is acting as a speaker. Apparently, the incident of 2016 did not become an instructive lesson for the OSCE. Today, when the situation with PIVT repeats, the possible final closure of the OSCE mission in Tajikistan will, as they say, become an adequate and symmetrical measure for its activities," Khovar writes.

The state news agency continues that the cooperation with the OSCE accorded with the "interests of strengthening the sovereignty, statehood and national security" of Tajikistan until the group of representatives of the non-systemic Tajik opposition held a protest action demanding the release of political prisoners in the republic during the OSCE Conference in Warsaw in 2016.

Participation of representatives of the opposition, including members of PIVT and the "Group-24" in the meeting, caused discontent of the Tajik authorities. Then the official delegation of Tajikistan demonstratively left the meeting in protest. In response to the presence of opposition in Tajikistan, the activists of the pro-government youth movement "Avangard" held student protest actions, and the Tajik delegation issued a relevant statement and left the OSCE events ahead of schedule in Warsaw.

A scandal has also erupted in Kyrgyzstan over the OSCE / ODIHR meeting on the occasion of the speech of businessman Kadyrzhan Batyrov earlier convicted in absentia. As a response to Batyrov's participation in the event in Warsaw, the Kyrgyz authorities downgraded the status of the OSCE presence in the republic by transforming the OSCE Centre in Bishkek into the OSCE Programme Office in Bishkek.

In December last year, none of the Central Asian states hosted an OSCE conference on the situation with freedom of speech in the region, so Vienna hosted the forum. Official representatives of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan participated in the meeting. Dushanbe and Bishkek denied sending their representatives to the Austrian capital. Then it was reported that the Tajik authorities decided to ignore the session because the OSCE provided a platform to persons "who committed crimes and wanted internationally." The Kyrgyz leadership took a similar position.

In May 2017, a delegation from Tajikistan refused to travel to Vienna for an OSCE conference on the prevention of extremism and radicalism. And since July 2017, at the insistence of the Tajik authorities, the OSCE downgraded its mission in Tajikistan to the OSCE Office in Dushanbe closing its field offices in Garm, Khujand, Kurgan-Tube, Kulyab and Shaartuz.

Apparently, the information of the "Khovar" about the possible closure of the OSCE mission should be regarded as an official warning to the international organisation, since the website of the state news agency (referring to another pro-government publication) cannot publish such reports without an agreement with the Tajik authorities.

Until September 2015, PIVT was the only officially functioning religious party in the post-Soviet space for 16 years. In August 2015, the Ministry of Justice of Tajikistan demanded PIVT to cease its activities. In September, the authorities accused the PIVT leadership its leader, Muhiddin Kabiri, of involvement in the military mutiny of the former deputy defence minister Abduhalim Nazarzoda. The Supreme Court declared party a terrorist organisation arresting its leadership. In June 2016, judicial authorities convicted 14 members of the PIVT political council to various terms of imprisonment, two of them to life.

The leader of PIVT Muhiddin Kabiri left Tajikistan immediately after the parliamentary elections on 1 March 2015, at which PIVT won no single mandate, that is, six months before the dramatic events of September. Later, he said that he did so, fearing a fabricated criminal case against him at home. Germany granted him political asylum. Kabiri rejects all charges against his party, believing that the September insurgency was the pretext for the ban on PIVT.

Fergana News Agency