The silent exodus of the Pamiri minority, persecuted by Dushanbe
After the May uprisings in Gorno Badakhšan, many inhabitants sought refuge in European countries. Sudden repression of peaceful demonstrators. Protest leader Alovatšiev sentenced to 18 years. Unofficial figures speak of at least 200 demonstrators already sent to camps.
Moscow (AsiaNews) - After last May's riots and subsequent repression in Gorno Badakhšan, the autonomous region of Tajikistan that corresponds to northern Pamir, many locals are trying to reach European countries by any available means. Radio Ozody has reported on the exodus and interviewed some of the emigrants who wished to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals against their families.
The 30-year-old Nuriddin, a native of Korog, the regional capital, has already been living in Hamburg for three months. He was one of the participants in the first protest last November and was then forced to flee first to Russia and then to Europe. He reveals 'none of us expected the persecution against the peaceful protesters, but the situation escalated dramatically and quickly after Amriddin Alovatšiev was kidnapped from Russia and taken back to Tajikistan'. The reference is to the 44-year-old leader of the Badakšan youth movement, who was hastily sentenced to 18 years in prison for extremism and separatism at the end of April.
Now Nuriddin is in a precarious situation due to a lack of documents proving his status as a political refugee in Germany; his relatives back home cannot provide information to the authorities, to avoid trouble. Pressure from state bodies remains intense and widespread, despite promises of amnesty, and the number of people arrested and convicted for sedition and terrorism is increasing. According to unofficial data, more than 200 demonstrators have already been sent to the camps, including several activists like Alovatšiev who were forcibly brought back from Russia and other countries.
A large community of Tajik Pamiri live in Russia. Members of the diaspora had also supported the protests in Moscow, rallying in front of the Tajikistan embassy and sending a video appeal to the authorities in Dushanbe, who have been searching for them ever since in order to kidnap them and put them in prison. "We had protested openly and within the law," says Safar, another activist, "but they began to systematically repress us, and we continue to receive anonymous calls, messages and invitations to strange meetings, or simply a series of threats.
Sometimes Russian policemen, flanked by Tajiks in civilian clothes, turn up in front of the homes of the pamiri in Russia, looking especially for those who collect donations for the families of the dead and injured in the Korog demonstrations. Another respondent, referred to by the fictitious name Orzu, fled to Germany after this visit, where he is currently in a refugee camp in Bavaria. Cars with policemen had started to drive around his flat in Moscow after he had posted some information to Instagram about the repressions in Gorno Badakhšan, inviting people to participate in the protests. There are 20 other Pamiri, with similar stories, together with him in the camp.
In Germany, the number of Pamiri refugees from Badakhšan is now estimated at several hundred, in addition to the many Tajiks who fled to Europe after 2015 (more than three thousand), when the Islamic Rebirth Party, declared a terrorist organisation, was outlawed. Over the past five years, the estimated number of Tajiks who have fled to Europe is around 20,000. Various humanitarian organisations warn of the need to pay more attention in general to the refugees from Central Asia, where persecution for political, social and religious reasons is increasing in many countries.