At least 47 are unofficially reported to have been killed in the Khujand’s high-security convict zone for «Islamic terrorists» , including two warders . The rest are prisoners. Some sources report that the number of victims is much higher. The number of deaths may increase, as about 100 are reported wounded, some severely. This is how a riot that broke out in the prison was suppressed, due to non professional and inhuman punitive operation of SWAT and «Alpha» special forces.
It was communicated, that one of the prisoners disarmed the guard and shot two wardens, including a Major, whose mockery of the prisoners seems to have provoked the incident. Violence was provoked by violence. Wardens testify that the officer undressed a prisoner and forced him to stand naked under the rain. In prison slang, this kind of torture is called «slope». This method of humiliation and punishment is used by prison authorities against convicts «inclined to escape».
The social media published the photo of at least 16 killed and there is no mention that any of them were armed with loaded guns.
However, was it just unprofessionalism or an intentional medieval crime? What if Tajik authorities simply do not care for life and dignity of the people? It is well known how easily people in Tajikistan are accused of extremism and terrorism in Stalinist tradition of suppressing and stamping out any token of free dispute and discontent. Those who make anti-corruption statements, critical comments and even put “likes” under such comments in social media, even privately discuss the points are being repressed.
Those, who dare to expose government officials, and speak out for a change are prosecuted as criminals.Especially, if they do not not place his feet correctly while praying in the mosque as it turned out to be in the case of the blogger Junaidullo Khudoerov. Under this pretext he was convicted to 5 years in prison as a religious extremist, but in fact, the farce was set up for his anti-corruption investigations against the head of the Rasht District Kanato Loikozoda. This is a vivid example of who, how, and for what kind of activities are labeled as «Islamic extremist» in Tajikistan, which is a Democratic state by its Constitution.
Only those driven to despair by unbearable oppression are able to stand out empty handed against machine guns armed tyrants, police and army, against the anti-human system of total oppression and repression, deprivation of human rights, against humiliation and abuse. Evidently the riot was not planned by anyone in advance, it was an outburst of despair. This is not just an alarm call. This is a serious signal about the high level of violence and the degree of tension in the country, led by the current government. This is a warning that a cup of patience is almost full.
The fact that ISIS assumed responsibility for the riot is just ridiculous. It means, that Major, killed in the riot, Minister of Justice Isatullo Sharipov, responsible for the penitentiary system and Emomali Rahmon himself, by creating unbearable conditions, provoked doomed riot, are members of the ISIS, acting as it was plan and ordered by ISIS.
It is reported that bodies of some prisoners have already been delivered to their relatives without the right to inspect and properly commemorated. Furthermore, they are to be buried without traditional ceremony (janoza). The authorities killed dozens of unarmed people and created at least a hundred of new fierce enemies. Does not that induce hatred and provoke radicalization of youth and entire population who are mostly Muslims? Now the world must not be surprised that «prosperous democratic and legal» Tajikistan has become the leader in recruiting militants to the ISIS? Provoking radicaliam, Tajik authorities enthusiastically demand from the world: “You see who we are dealing with? Give us more money for stability and strengthening of the repressions.” This is the main goal of Emomali Rahmon’s numerous international voyages.
I am afraid that the current Tajik authorities are not capable of extracting a lesson from this tragedy. I am sure that national mourning will not be announced in Tajikistan. The show «Sing and dance on the bones» in the name of the invulnerable lifelong protector of democracy and law will be continued.
In a country with a truly democratic and legal system, the chief of the prison and special forces commanders would have been arrested, degraded and put to trial. In a civilized country that has nothing to hide, the numerous demands of international organizations as OSCE, the International Red Cross and others would have been met long time ago. At least their representatives would have been allowed to meet political prisoners sentenced for lifetime for dissent, and admitted to inspect places of imprisonment.
But I would not be surprised, if after the massacre in the Khujand convict zone, the authorities will unleash a new wave of repressions, a new campaign to tighten things up. And they will try to squeeze out even bigger funding from international partners, proclaiming themselves vanguard of the struggle with jinn they have successfully grown themselves in a prison bottle — the threat of Islamic terrorism in Tajikistan, turned into Zindanistan. *
And after this, the Tajik authorities still dare to accuse someone of undermining the regime and stability in the region? You, the power-holders, are selling not “the Islamic threat” ghost , but the future of Tajikistan, the future of your children and grandchildren.
My personal opinion is that financing and funding this regime the civilized countries and their institutions execute financial support and encouragement for killer and rapist stimulating and maintaining a dictatorship that grows dangerous seeds of radicalism by watering them with blood. The people responsible for the Khujand massacre must be included to international sanctions lists, in particular the Magnitsky list. Subsequently, they must be submitted to the international court. Not only in this case. This tragedy is just one episode in a series of crimes against humanity.
Temur Varki, Tajik journalist, poet, political emigrant, France
* Zindanistan — Prisonland