Tajikistan’s Failure to Address Minority Rights Sparks International Concerns
London, Berlin (6/4 – 62.5)
In a recent report submitted to the upcoming 109th session of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (UN CERD), Tajikistan’s handling of minority rights has been called into question. The report by the Anti-Discrimination Centre Memorial (ADC Memorial) of Brussels, and backed by reporting by Pamiri diaspora activists, shed light on the Tajikistan’s lack of progress in implementing the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) had previously called on Tajikistan to collect disaggregated data on ethnic minorities and recognize the Pamiriand Yaghnobi people as minority groups. The Yaghnobi, a group forcibly relocated during Soviet times, have experienced the total loss of their language and culture.
The committee also urged the Tajik government to adopt a comprehensive state program to support yet another threatened minority, the Mugat/Jughi people, with a particular focus on women and girls. Furthermore, UN-CERD recommended the promotion of minority languages, such as Pamiri and Yaghnobi, in education and media, as well as the implementation of educational programs to counter prejudice towards ethnic minorities.
Despite these recommendations, Tajikistan has shown little progress in addressing these concerns. The country has yet to publish disaggregated data from its 2020 census, and the state report submitted to the UN-CERD fails to mention the Pamiri and Yaghnobi people.
In addition to the lack of recognition, the situation of the Mugat/Jughi people remains dire. This marginalized group has faced increased vulnerability due to the COVID-19 pandemic and labor migration difficulties. The Tajik authorities have not adopted any action plan to improve their situation, and school attendance remains unsatisfactory in districts where the Mugat reside.
The recent adoption of the Law on Equality and Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination in Tajikistan has been met with skepticism, as it does not include protections for all persons regardless of ethnicity, race, religion, language, and disability. This leaves vulnerable groups, such as the Pamiri and Mugat peoples, without adequate protection under the law.
Moreover, the anti-discrimination legislation was enforced amid a crackdown on Pamiri minorities, resulting in the deaths of at least 34 peaceful demonstrators, over 200 detentions, and up to 1,000 Pamiris seeking refuge in European and North American countries.
As Tajikistan continues to neglect the rights of its minority populations, the international community must maintain pressure on the nation to address these pressing concerns and ensure that all individuals are granted the protections they deserve.