Tajikistan blocks access to foreign news sites, YouTube

Jul 31, 2012

In the wake of a military operation to regain control of an autonomous region in Tajikistan, authorities in Dushanbe have blocked access to a number of websites, including the BBC, Russia’s Vesti, and YouTube, according to RIA Novosti.

Access to YouTube was cut off 26 July, two days after the Tajik military entered the Gorno-Badakhshan region to capture a former opposition warlord. Access to Vesti and the BBC were cut off 29 July by order of the Governmental Communications Service, RIA Novosti reports.

Experts have linked the Internet blockage to events in the region, saying that because thegovernment has not provided information about the conflict, people have been turning to the Internet, according to EurasiaNet.org.

The government’s account of the conflict and its aftermath are at odds with those of some media. Dushanbe says only one civilian has died in the fighting, but some local media put the number closer to 30, according to EurasiaReview.com. Further, the blocking of YouTube may have been an attempt to keep people from viewing a video of a 23 July protest in Khorog, the capital of Gorno-Badakhshan, that showed an opposition politician criticizing authorities for the impoverished country’s dire socio-economic situation.

Following the protest, Sabzali Mamadrizoyev, regional head of the opposition Islamic Revival Party, was reportedly detained by law enforcement officers. A member of his party told the Asia-Plus news agency that officers severely beat Mamadrizoyev, shot him, and dumped his body, which was found three days later.


Rebel fighters in Gorno-Badakhshan reportedly began surrendering and turning in their weapons in Khorog on 29 July, according to Asia-Plus. President Imomali Rahmon is expected to sign a decree giving amnesty to all but three of the people participating in the combat that left 17 troops, 30 rebels, and an unknown number of civilians dead. The two sides agreed that former warlord Tolib Ayombekov and two other fighters, who the government says were behind the 21 July stabbing death of regional security chief Major General Abdullo Nazarov, will not be given amnesty, Asia-Plus reports.

About the Author

Transitions Online

Transitions Online (www.tol.org) is an Internet magazine that covers political, social, cultural, and economic issues in the former communist countries of Europe and Central Asia. The magazine has a strong network of local contributors, who provide valuable insight into events in the region’s 29 countries.
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