State troops decision sparks rare Tajik protest

Defence Minister Sherali Khairulloyev told the Tajik Asia Plus news agency on Friday the government was deploying additional troops to the Gorno-Badakhshan region to reinforce its border with Afghanistan.

State troops decision sparks rare Tajik protest
About 200 people held a rare protest in eastern Tajikistan on Friday against a state decision to send more troops to their province to guard its border with Afghanistan.

Defence Minister Sherali Khairulloyev told the Tajik Asia Plus news agency on Friday the government was deploying additional troops to the Gorno-Badakhshan region to reinforce its border with Afghanistan.

A local witness told Reuters by telephone from the regional centre Khorog that the decision sparked a protest in the city, adding that the demonstrators were against more troops in their province.

"They have been on the square since this morning, but the town is quiet and I can't see more military than usual," said Mirambakhsh Khudobakhsh. He said about 200 people were protesting on the square, but Asia Plus put the number at 300.

Tajik President Imomali Rakhmon has ruled the Muslim nation with an iron fist since 1992 and tightened the screws further after a 1997 peace accord with an alliance of Islamists and liberals who were defeated by his forces.

He tolerates little dissent and public shows of discontent with state policies are rare. About 100,000 people died in the 1992-1997 war.

The defence minister did not say how many troops the government had sent. "We need to strengthen the border in the region where it is virtually unguarded," he told Asia-Plus without elaborating.

Reuters
Last Mod: 20 Haziran 2008, 18:21
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