Assessment for Uzbeks in Tajikistan
Area: 143,100 sq. km.
Total Population: 6,020,000 (source: U.S. Census Bureau, 1998, est.)
Risk Assessment | Analytic Summary | References
The risk of Uzbek rebellion appears to be low to moderate in the foreseeable future. Although protest has been low to nonexistent, Uzbeks do have a history of rebellion. There are significant concentrations of Uzbeks in northern Tajikistan, although they seem to exhibit fairly low levels of cohesion and very little organization. Factors contributing to the risks of rebellion include increased regime authoritarianism and persecution of Hizb ut-Tahrir followers, who are primarily Uzbek, in the north of the country. Further, Uzbeks are underrepresented in parliament and the administration and suffer from widespread societal discrimination. The government of Uzbekistan has tightened border controls in recent years to the discontent of Uzbeks in Tajikistan.
Ethnic Uzbek protest is likely to remain at low levels for several reasons, most significantly their low level of political organization and mobilization. However, it is unlikely to die out completely given continued governmental restrictions. The Tajik government, after years of civil war and instability, has stabilized, although the endurance of this regime is unknown.
Tajiks and Uzbeks are often portrayed in studies of Central Asia as one people who speak two different languages (LANG = 1). This assertion has its reasons: historically, both ethnic groups share many things, beginning with the Persian, Arab and Turkic cultural legacies common to Central Asian peoples in earlier centuries, and ending with the establishment of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Uzbekistan in 1924, of which Tajikistan remained a part for five years. The differentiation of the two ethnicities started with the separation of the Soviet Socialist republic of Tajikistan from Uzbekistan in 1929 and ripened after the two republics declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
Ethnic Uzbeks are concentrated in Leninabad oblast, north of the capital Dushanbe, in the eastern Ferghana Valley. Additional Uzbek populations live in Hissar (west of Dushanbe) and in the Kurgan-Tyube region. There is also a substantial Uzbek community in Khatlon province, a rural region in the southwest which is among the country’s poorest (GROUPCON = 3). The Khojand and Hissar regions are among the more economically developed areas of Tajikistan.
Ethnic Uzbeks face widespread societal discrimination in Tajikistan as well as some formal governmental restrictions (ECDIS06 = 3). Uzbeks are underrepresented within the political system; and President Rahmonov’s government has actively sought to keep ethnic Uzbek leaders, such as Colonel Mahmud Khudoberdiev, out of political life. As a result of societal discrimination, during 2004-2006, only 2 ethnic Uzbeks held positions in the Tajik parliament, which contains 97 seats. Thus, despite constituting approximately 15 percent of Tajikistan’s total population, ethnic Uzbeks only account for approximately 2 percent of the national legislature (POLDIS06 = 3).
Ethnic Uzbeks have also faced dangers to personal security that have not been adequately addressed by the central government. The ethnic Uzbek mayor of a town in Khatlon district disappeared in September 1999 under mysterious circumstances. After the signing of the peace treaty ending the civil war in 1997, there were multiple murders of ethnic Uzbeks in the Panj district. As a result, some ethnic Uzbeks moved to areas more heavily populated by Uzbeks or to neighboring countries. Between 2000 and 2005, there were no reports of intercommunal violence or fatalities, although tensions were evident (INTERCON01 = 1; INTERCON02-05 = 0). However, in 2006, two ethnic Uzbeks assassinated Kahkimsho Khafizov, an ethnic Tajik who headed the Defense Ministry’s Military Institute (INTERCON06 = 1).
Ethnic Uzbeks have expressed primarily political and cultural grievances. Political grievances focus on their lack of representation in the central government and the perceived inequality in civil rights and status vis-à-vis ethnic Tajiks (POLGR04-06 = 1). Cultural grievances are primarily linguistic, demanding greater rights to teach and publish in Uzbek and to use Uzbek in their dealings with the government, though such grievances have not been expressed in recent years.
Ethnic Uzbek political organization has been weak historically (GOJPA95 = 1; GOJPA98-06 = 2). They are primarily represented by umbrella groups. The Society of Uzbeks in Tajikistan, founded in 1992, seeks to promote the interests of ethnic Uzbeks and also to promote interethnic cooperation. The Islamist movement Hizb ut-Tahrir also is heavily ethnic Uzbek, with followers concentrated in the north. This organization, banned in Tajikistan, promotes the nonviolent overthrow of secular governments in the region in favor of an Islamic caliphate.
Historically, Uzbek protest in Tajikistan has been low (PROT90 = 1; PROT91 = 1), although it increased slightly in the late 1990s before declining again (PROT00-06 = 0). However, since Tajikistan’s independence, ethnic Uzbeks have periodically employed violence against the central government (REB94 = 5; REB97-98 = 3; REB01-06 = 0). The 1997 and 1998 rebellions were both led by supporters of Uzbek leader Mahmud Khoduberdiev who, during the civil war, fought with the government. Khoduberdiev’s supporters are believed to have bases in southern Uzbekistan, although Uzbekistan denies giving them any material support.
Foroughi, Payam. 2002. “Tajikistan: Nationalism, Ethnicity, Conflict, and Socio-economic Disparities—Sources and Solutions.” Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs 22:1.
Fumagalli, Matteo. 2007. “Framing Ethnic Minority Mobilisation in Central Asia: The Cases of Uzbeks in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.” Europe-Asia Studies 59:4.
International Crisis Group. 2001. “Tajikistan: An Uncertain Peace.” Asia Report No. 30.
Karagiannis, Emmanuel. 2006. “The Challenge of Radical Islam in Tajikistan: Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami.” Nationalities Papers 34:1.
Lexis-Nexis. Various news reports. 1990-2006
U.S. Department of State. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Tajikistan. 1999-2006.
Chronology for Uzbeks in Tajikistan
Publisher Minorities at Risk Project
Publication Date 2004
Cite as Minorities at Risk Project, Chronology for Uzbeks in Tajikistan, 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/469f38e6c.html [accessed 16 December 2015]
Disclaimer This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
701 – 800 Islamic Arabs completed their conquest of Central Asia with a victory over the Chinese at Talas River, imposing Islam and a new culture. Under Arab rule, Central Asia retained much of its Iranian character and remained an important center of culture and trade for centuries after the Arab conquest.
701 – 900 Under the Arab Abbasid Caliphate Central Asia underwent a golden age while Bukharo became a cultural center of the Muslim world.
801 – 900 Turkic tribes migrated to Central Asia from Mongolia and Southern Siberia. Islam became dominant religion of all Central Asia.
901 – 1000 The Persian Samanid dynasty replaced the Abbasids, and continued the cultural activities of Mawarannahr, a province in the present-day Uzbekistan with extraordinary administrative and cultural significance. Samanid principality became the most important state in the development of a modern Tajik national identity.
951 – 1000 The Turkic Qarakhanids overthrew the Samanids thereby ending the last major Persian state in Central Asia.
1001 – 1100 Persian replaced Arabic as the standard written language in most of Central Asia.
1201 – 1300 The armies of Chinggis Khan conquered Central Asia. They intensified Turkification of Mawarannahr, as the armies were made up mostly of Turkic tribes. They reduced Iranian influence and destroyed cultural centers.
1301 – 1400 Chinggis Khan’s empire gradually disintegrated into its constituent parts as the princes of various tribal groups competed for influence. One tribal chieftain, Timur, known also as Tamerlane, emerged as the dominant force. While not a descendent of Chinggis, Timur unified Mongol holdings in Central Asia and imbued his empire with a rich culture. Turkish rivaled Persian as a literary language.
1501 – 1600 The Timurid state quickly broke apart after Timur’s death. The chronic internal fighting of the Timurids attracted the attention of the Uzbek nomadic tribes which undertook a wholesale invasion of Mawarannahr.
1701 – 1800 The Khanate of Bukharo lost the fertile Fergana region. Qoqon, a new Uzbek khanate was formed. British and Russians began rivalry for Central Asia.
1801 – 1900 By the early nineteenth century the lands of present day Tajikistan were divided among three states: the Uzbek-ruled Bukharo Khanate, the Quqon Khanate, centered on the Fergana Valley, and the kingdom of Afghanistan. These three principalities subsequently fought each other for control of key areas. Although some regions were under the nominal control of Bukhoro, or Quqon, local rulers were virtually independent.
1801 – 1900 By the end of the nineteenth century Central Asia was caught between Britain and Russia. The first arrived in Afghanistan while the second appeared in the Kazak steppes.
1861 – 1870 The Jadidist reform movement was founded in Central Asia. The Jadidists were supported by Tajiks, Tatars, and Uzbeks. Being modernizers and nationalists who viewed Central Asia as a whole, they believed that the religious and cultural greatness of Islamic civilization had been degraded in the Central Asia of their day.
1867 The Russians established the Guberniya (Governorate General) of Turkestan. It included, as of 1899, present-day Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turmenistan and southeastern Kazakstan.
1891 – 1900 The new Russian railroads brought greater numbers of Russians into the area.
1900 Jadidism asserted itself as the first major resistence movement in Central Asia.
1900 The territory of Uzbekistan, already in full control of the Russian empire, was divided into three political segment: the khanates of Bukharo and Khiva, and the Guberniya of Turkestan.
1906 – 1907 As a result of the Russian revolution of 1905 Central Asians received six seats in the first and second Russian Dumas.
1907 – 1917 Central Asians had no seats in the third and fourth Russian Dumas.
1917 The Bolshevik Revolution began the establishment of the Soviet state.
1918 Bolsheviks crushed the autonomous government in Quqon. Jadadists began the decade-long Basmachi revolt involving elements from all five republics and mercenaries. The Basmachi indigenous movement proved the last barrier to assimilation of Central Asia into the Soviet Union.
1918 The Bolsheviks established control over northern Tajikistan, which was incorporated into the Turkestan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (ASSR), but did not conquer Dushanbe and the other territories subject to Bukhara until 1921.
1921 Communists won the Russian Civil War and reduced the power of the Central Asian party branches.
1921 – 1927 The New Economic Policy expanded cotton cultivation in Central Asia.
1924 The Soviet Socialist Republic of Uzbekistan was established, with Tajikistan forming an autonomous republic within it.
1925 Most Basmachi resistence in Tajikistan was overcome.
1927 Communist party purges were going on in all republic branches.
1929 The Soviet Socialist republic of Tajikistan was separated from Uzbekistan of which it had been a part since 1924.
1956 – 1961 Tursunbai Uljabayev was first secretary of Tajikistan. In 1961 he was ousted amid accusations that he had falsified reports to exaggerate the success of cotton production in the republic. Jabbor Rasulov replaced Uljabayev.
1956 – 1964 The Central Asian communist leaders who had been purged by Stalin were rehabilitated. Russification remained a prerequisite for party advancement.
1964 – 1982 Under Khrushchev and his successor, Leonid Brezhnev, Tajikistan’s borders were periodically redrawn as districts and provinces were recombined, abolished, and restored, while small amounts of territory were acquired from or ceded to neighboring republics.
1982 Rasulov was replaced as first secretary of Tajikistan by Rahmon Nabyiev who held office until 1985 when Soviet leader Michael Gorbachev swept out the republic’s old-guard party leaders.
1985 Mikhail Gorbachev was elected first secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Kakhar Makhkamov replaced Rakhmon Nabiyev as first secretary of the Communist Party of Tajikistan, accusing his predecessor of tolerating nepotism and corruption.
1989 Tajik was declared the Tajikistan’s state language. The use of Russian, Uzbek or other languages was still recognized under some circumstances.
Jun 1989 Clashes between Uzbeks and Meskhetian Turks broke out after a disagreement in a market between an Uzbek vendor and a Meskhetian buyer. The incident sparked widespread violence that spread to several cities in the Fergana valley. Around 100 people were killed and 600-800 wounded. The victims were mainly Meskhetians and the perpetrators mainly Uzbeks. Hundreds of homes and government buildings were also burned. Several thousand troops were sent in to quell the violence that took place over the course of a week. Moscow later evacuated 17,000 Meskhetians. They had in recent months been pressuring the government to let them return to their homeland in Georgia from which they were deported during World War II for fear they would support Turkey in the even of an invasion of Russia. Moscow then appointed Islam Karimov as first secretary of the Communist party of Uzbekistan. (Los Angeles Time, 6/6/89; BBC, 6/8/89; Toronto Star, 6/12/89 and 6/13/89)
1990 A branch of the Islamic Rebirth Party (IRP) was established in Tajikistan with an initial membership of about 10,000. The party focused explicitly on republic-level politics and national identity rather than supranational issues. When the anti-reformists gained power in December 1992, they banned the IRP. After the civil war the party changed its name to the Movement for Islamic Revival. Intellectuals founded the Democratic Party of Tajikistan (DPT), a nationalist political organization with pro-western orientation. The Tajik government banned the party in 1993. Then in 1995, the government lifted its ban on the party but the latter remained powerless inside the republic. The intellectual community also founded the Rastokhez movement. Rastokhez’ visibility as an opposition popular front made it a scapegoat in the February 1990 demonstrations. In 1992 Rastokhez, The Democratic Party, and another party called, Lale Badakhshon, played an important role in the opposition movement that forced President Nabiyev to resign.
Feb 1990 Riots in Dushanbe protested communist housing policy in Tajikistan and demanded democratic and economic reforms. A state of emergency was declared and the unrest prompted a more inflexible attitude towards political pluralism by the republic’s leadership. Two nascent opposition parties, Rastokhez (Rebirth), which had been involved in the February demonstrations, and the Democratic Party of Tajikistan (DPT), were refused official registration, while the Islamic Renaissance Party was denied permission to hold a founding congress.
Mar 1990 Elections to the Supreme Soviet were held in Tajikistan. Opposition politicians were not allowed to participate.
Aug 1990 Bowing to Tajik nationalism, Tajikistan’s Supreme Soviet adopted a declaration of sovereignty.
Nov 1990 The Supreme Soviet elected Makhkamov as executive President of the Republic. His only opponent was Nabiyev.
1991 Representatives of the Pamiri population founded Lale Badakhshon party, a secular democratic organization whose major aim was achieving greater autonomy for Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous province, the area of residence for the Pamir population.
1991 – 2000 The Central Asian states were the scene of several incidents of ethnic conflict. Ethnic clashes between the Tajiks and Kyrgyz took place nearly every summer over water rights. In February 1990, Tajiks and Armenians clashed in Tajikistan. Clashes between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz erupted in the Fergana valley in June 1990 over land issues. One to two hundred people were killed in the latter violent incident (The Economist, 9/21/91)
Mar 1991 The people of Tajikistan voted in a national referendum against Tajikistan’s sovereignty and for the preservation of the Soviet Union.
Aug 1991 A coup against the Gorbachev government failed in Moscow. Mass demonstrations by opposition groups in Dushanbe which continued throughout much of September forced the resignation of president Kahar Makhkamov. Demonstrators demanded the dissolution of the Communist Party of Tajikistan and new multi-party elections.
Sep 1991 Tajikistan declared independence from the Soviet Union. As the demonstrations organized by the opposition continued even after independence Kadrid Aslonov, the Chairman of the Supreme Soviet and acting president, issued a decree that banned the Communist Party of Tajikistan (CPT) and nationalized its assets. In response, the communist majority in the Supreme Soviet replaced Aslonov by Nabiyev, declared a state of emergency in the republic and rescinded the prohibition of the CPT.
Oct 1991 While having the political support of the communist majority in the Supreme Soviet, Nabiyev was forced to make some concessions to the opposition. The Supreme Soviet rescinded the state of emergency, suspended the CPT and legalized the IRP. Shortly afterwards Nabiyev resigned as acting President in advance of presidential elections.
Nov 1991 Nabyiev was elected president of the new republic.
Dec 1991 Tajikistan signed the declaration establishing the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Jan 1992 A new Prime Minister, Akbar Mirzoyev, was appointed to head the Tajik Government.
1992 Tajikistan joined the UN and the CSCE.
1992 The five Central Asian states joined the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO).
Mar 1992 Anti-government, pro-reform demonstrations began in Dushanbe. Protests were led by the Pamiri group, Lale Badakhshon, which advocated greater autonomy for the Pamiri peoples of the Gornyi Badakhshan Autonomous region. They were joined by Rastokhez, the IRP and the DPT. In response, the government organized rival demonstrations, bringing supporters to the capital Dushanbe from the southern region of Kulyab and Leninanbad. By April of the same year the demonstrations escalated into a civil war which soon engulfed the entire country. A Human Rights Report commented that the Tajik civil war might be understood as a struggle between the old guard, and the political reformers. The civil war could also be conceived as a conflict of Communism versus Islam. The report further suggested that two regions were involved in the war. One of them, the stronghold of the old guard communist elite, included Kuliab and Leninabad Oblasts. The other one, a bastion of the opposition, comprised Garm and Gorno Badakhshan (Pamiri). NOTE: It was reported that the Uzbek community supported pro-government forces.
May 1992 The commander of the Russian garrison in Tajikistan brokered a compromise agreement between government and opposition. The agreement provided for the establishment of a coalition government, known as the Government of National Reconciliation, in which one third of the cabinet positions would go to members of the opposition. The new government was headed by Mirzoyev. Violent clashes between government and opposition forces continued.
Jun 1 – Jul 31, 1992 The Tajik civil war forced thousands of Kulabis and ethnic Uzbeks to flee their villages, leaving behind them their burned and looted homes. There were large Uzbek populations in certain districts of Khatlon, including Shahrtuz, Jilikul, Kabodian and Panj. Uzbeks sought refuge in Kulab and Uzbekistan.
Jul 1992 Tajikistan signed a treaty of cooperation and assistance with Russia, allowing Russian forces to clear anti-government forces from Tajikistan.
Sep 1992 President Nabiyev of Tajikistan was seized by opposition forces at Dushanbe airport and was forced to announce his resignation. Prime Minister Mirzoyev also resigned.
Nov 1992 The Supreme Soviet elected a new government in which Abdumalik Abdullajanov, a veteran hard-line politician, was appointed as prime minister. All members of the opposition parties lost their portfolios. The legislature abolished the office of president. Imamali Rahmonov was appointed Chairman of the Supreme Soviet, a post now equivalent to Head of State.
Dec 1992 The old guard forces captured Dushanbe and stepped up repression. The People’s Front of Tajikistan, a paramilitary group supported by the government and a successor of the National Guard, was responsible for mass arrests and summary executions of individuals captured without formal arrest. While civil war was effectively ended, fighting on a smaller scale between the forces of the old guard and the opposition continued elsewhere in Tajikistan and across the border with Afghanistan.
Jan 1993 The Government of Tajikistan made criminal charges against opposition leader Hajji Akbar Turajonzoda.
1993 Multinational CIS forces, dominated by Russian units, entered Tajikistan with the primary mission of closing the southern border with Afghanistan, across which opposition forces had received substantial support. Tajikistan and Uzbekistan signed a cooperation treaty stipulating a role for Uzbekistan’s air force in the defense of Tajikistan. However, it was reported that Tashkent was increasingly displeased that the dominant factions among the victors in Tajikistan’s civil war were much less amenable to Uzbekistan’s leadership than were the factions that had controlled Tajik politics before the war. Continued insurgency of Islamic-democratic forces from across the Afghan border continued to destabilize the country after the civil war had effectively ended in early 1993.
Jun 1993 The Supreme Court which acted on behalf of Rahmonov’s regime, banned all four opposition parties and all organizations connected with the 1992 coalition government. Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province ended claims of independence from Tajikistan.
Nov 1993 Tajik rebels resumed fighting in Gorno-Badakhshan.
Dec 1993 Abdullojanov resigned from the premiership. He was replaced by Abdujalil Samadov.
1994 Many Uzbeks in Panj complained before representatives of Human Rights Watch that they had been illegally detained for more than twenty-four hours in the headquarters of the special forces. Some were detained for a few days, other were detained for longer periods and permitted only sporadic family visits. Many of the detainees were beaten while in detention. When asked by Human Rights Watch why Uzbeks in Punj were suddenly being targeted by their former allies, the pro-government Tajiki forces, Uzbeks unanimously responded that the Tajiks who had previously been enemies (i.e Kulabis and Gharmis) were now uniting in an effort to push Uzbeks out of Tajikistan.
Feb 20, 1994 It was reported that ethnic Uzbeks fought Tajik returnees in some areas of Tajikistan. Having refused to return Tajiki’s land and farm equipment, a crowd of about one hundred Uzbeks armed with guns, shovels and sticks, attacked a Tajik village. At least thirty people were beaten and injured and seven had to be hospitalized. In addition, many houses were stoned and burned. Local authorities, many of whom were of Arab origin, reacted promptly to the incidents by calling a meeting and sending policemen to the troubled areas. The meeting was attended by representatives of Tajiki returnees, the ethnic Uzbeks, and influential local leaders.
Mar 1994 Imomali Rahmonov announced his readiness and willingness to negotiate a political solution to the on-going conflicts with the Islamic-democratic opposition.
Apr 1994 The UN arranged a first round of peace talks between Rahmonov and the opposition. Talks took place in the presence of representatives from Iran, Pakistan, Russia and the US. Six more rounds followed over the next two years. None of the talks led to an agreement on peace terms. The most significant result was a cease-fire agreement that took effect in October 1994.
Apr 1994 Ethnic tension erupted along the Afghan-Tajiki border in the Uzbek city of Punj, as Tajiki authorities undertook to disarm ethnic Uzbeks. The Uzbek community protested to local authorities. Uzbeks complained that they suffered inadequate communal security and they demanded higher positions in the local government.
Jul 26, 1994 A crowd of 200 to 300 Uzbeks reportedly attacked returnees in the Tajik village of Komsomol. Seventeen people were beaten before the police could be alerted. A series of meetings were held for Tajiks, Uzbeks and the oblast leaders to settle their disputes. The inaction of official authorities however indicated that the latter tended either to tolerate or to encourage illegal actions.
Oct 1994 Tajikistan and Uzbekistan signed a Co-operation Agreement envisaging greater co-ordination between the two countries, especially in the field of security and foreign policy. Uzbekistan looked for cooperation with its eastern neighbor and provided military and political support to Rahmonov’s regime because Uzbekistan was concerned lest the Islamic democratic alliance win in the Tajik civil conflict.
Nov 1994 The new Tajik new constitution was approved in a plebiscite by more than 90% of voters.
Nov 1994 Rahmonov was elected president of Tajikistan. Major opposition parties did not participate in the elections. The unicameral legislature offered decisive support for Rahmonov’s programs. In addition, the judiciary was fully under the president’s control.
Dec 7, 1994 President Imomali Rakhmonov issued a decree on 2nd December appointing Jamshed Karimov as the new premier, ITAR-TASS reported from Dushanbe. Karimov replaced Abdujalil Samadov, who was to become a leading member of the central economic committee of the Commonwealth of Independent States in Moscow. (BBC; DPA)
1995 Ethnic Uzbeks complained to representatives of Human Right Watch that their support of the Kulabis during the civil war was not rewarded. Uzbeks said, they were shut out of the local government which was dominated by Kulabis. Uzbeks believed that this was aimed at driving them out of Tajikistan.(Human Rights Watch 1995)
Feb 26, 1995 Elections to the new Supreme Assembly took place on 26 February 1995. Most of those elected were reported to be state officials without party affiliation and loyal to the President. Elections were boycotted by the oppositional IRP and DPT. The newly formed Party of Popular Unity and Accord announced that it would not take part in the elections either.
Mar 1995 The US State Department reported that the Uzbek language was not afforded official status in Tajikistan. The Department of State also called attention to the Tajik government’s initiative from the past Summer aimed at disarming the local militias operating outside its control in southern Tajikistan. The initiative was directed against the Uzbeks, who were called ethnic rivals of Kulyabi by the State Department, the pro-government Tajiki population. There were reports of human rights violations, such as searching for weapons and numerous beating of ethnic Uzbeks.(US Department of State)
May 1995 Tajikistan introduced Tajik the ruble as a new currency.
Jun 1 – Dec 31, 1995 Conflict continued in the south of the country and on the border with Afghanistan.
Aug 12, 1995 The Tajik Justice Ministry registered a new political organization, the Congress of the Peoples of the Republic of Tajikistan. The movement claimed it represented the interests of the republic’s Uzbek, Russian and Korean communities. It also claimed that the Communist Party of Tajikistan and the Peoples’ Movement were among its members.(BBC)
Jan 1996 Military commanders of government troops initiated rebellions in the towns of Kurgan Tyube and Tursunzad. The commanders claimed that the Government was incompetent and corrupt, and demanded removal of several ministers. (Europe Year Book 1998, vol II) In Tursunzad, Ibod Boimatov, a former parliamentary deputy and ex-mayor of the town, demanded the dismissal of “several high-ranking officials from the presidential administration and the ‘power ministers'” as well as an end to the displacement of the local population by settlers from other regions. In Kurgan Tyube, Makhmud Khudoberdyev, commander of the Tajik army’s First Brigade, was said to have begun distributing weapons to the local population. On Saturday, he had led a raid on the town and reportedly seized key government buildings. A commentary by Deutsche Presse Agentur observed that Khudoberdiyev’s mutiny appeared to have been triggered by his dissatisfaction at the planned integration of Moslem rebels into the ranks of government forces, which had been agreed by Rakhmonov and the Islamic opposition. It was also believed that economic interests and political influence by family clans had been also involved. (DPA)
Feb 8, 1996 Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov signed decrees dismissing Prime Minister Dzhamshed Karimov and replacing him with Yakhye Azimov. Azimov was acting president of the Kolinho join-stock company, which had been established on the basis of the republic’s largest Kariakum carpet-making amalgamation in Leninabad Region. Although Karimov had been relieved of his duties at his own request, the move appeared to be linked to demands by two mutinous Tajik warlords. The two, Ibod Boimatov – a former lawmaker and ex-mayor of the western town of Tursunzade – and Colonel Makhmud Khudoberdyev – commander of Tajikistan’s First Motorised Rifle Brigade – had seized Tursunzade and the southern town of Kurgan-Tyube last month and advanced on the capital Dushanbe. The mutiny was defused when Rakhmonov sacked three top officials in his government. Boimatov was quoted as saying that he and Khudoberdyev, whose armed supporters had turned in their weapons, wanted a further clean-up from Rakhmonov. (Deutsche Presse Agentur)
Mar 1996 The US Department of State reported that the Tajik government permitted radio and television broadcasts in the Uzbek language. (US Department of State)
May 1996 Rahmonov’s regime refused to reconvene UN-sponsored talks as scheduled, and the UN Observer Mission in Tajikistan was refused access to the combat zone.
Jun 1996 The civil war in Tajikistan intensified again with Russian air attacks on opposition villages in south-central Tajikistan. The three-month extension of the UN sponsored cease-fire, set in May, was reportedly interrupted. Tajik troops moved eastward with Russian air support eastward into the country’s narrow central corridor toward opposition strongholds.
Jul 1996 President Rahomonov undertook a campaign aimed at consolidating his power. To this aim, he established a National Security Council under presidential control and launched an anti-narcotics campaign in the rebel stronghold of Gorno-Badakhshan using nominally neutral Russian border troops.
Jul 1996 The newly founded National Revival bloc, an opposition movement, chaired by three former Prime Ministers, Abdullojonov, Karimov, and Samadov, declared its intention to participate in the peace talks.
Aug 1996 The UN-sponsored cease-fire of July was broken by heavy fighting in Tajikistan’s central region with the rebels’ renewed thrust toward Dishanbe. The anti-government United Tajikistan Opposition (UTO) proposed that the National Reconciliation Council (NRC), a body intended to revise the legislation and debate constitutional amendments, include 80% opposition and 20% government members. Tajikistan government rejected the formula.
Oct 1 – Nov 30, 1996 Rebel forces opened corridors from Afghanistan into eastern Tajikistan, threatening to take full control of eastern and central regions. Government forces offered weak resistence.
Oct 14, 1996 The Tajik Islamic opposition denied allegations that it intended to join forces with the Afghan Taliban Islamic movement, Interfax News Agency reported. A statement from the Tajik opposition leadership denied any alliance with Taliban to overthrow the government of Tajik President Imomali Rahmonov or to occupy Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, the agency said. “None of the military-political groups in Afghanistan has territorial claims on Uzbekistan or Tajikistan”, – a statement from the Tajik opposition leadership said. (BBC)
Nov 1996 President Rahmonov signed a new cease-fire agreement with the rebel coalition. The ensuing peace agreement called the National Reconciliation Council (NRC) to amend the constitution.
Dec 1996 Rahmonov signed a peace agreement with Sayed Abdullo Nuri, leader of the opposition Islamic Rebirth Party. The agreement called for the establishment of a National Reconciliation Council(NRC) to be headed by a representative of the United Tajik Opposition. The NRC was to have extensive executive powers to revise the legislation on elections, political parties and the media, to debate constitutional amendments, and to monitor the implementation of the peace agreement.
Dec 17, 1996 Tajikistan’s secular opposition, the National Revival bloc, called on the government and Islamic rebels to allow its members to participate in the peace process. In a statement issued on 15th December, the leadership of the party, composed of three former prime ministers – Abdumalik Abdullojonov, Jamshed Karimov and Abdujalil Samadov – said that the only way to achieve a “comprehensive peace” was to hold “tripartite negotiations with the participation, among others, of the National Revival bloc”.(BBC)
Feb 1997 At further UN-mediated peace talks held in Mashhad, Iran, agreement was reached on the composition of the NRC, which was to comprise 26 seats divided equally between the Government and the UTO.
Mar 1 – Apr 30, 1997 Negotiations on the reintegration of opposition forces into Tajikistan’s military structures, the exchange of prisoners and the legalization of opposition parties were held in Moscow and Teheran at intervals.
Apr 1997 Rahmonov was wounded in an assassination attempt when a grenade was thrown at his motorcade in Khojand. Two people were killed and more than 60 injured. The UTO denied any involvement and condemned the attack.
May 1997 Negotiations were held in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, and an agreement was signed on the legalization of the opposition political parties and media, to be implemented following the disarming of the rebel forces.
Jun 27, 1997 Nuri and Rahmonov signed the General Agreement on Peace and National Accord in Tajikistan, which formally ended the five-year civil conflict.
Jul 1997 Nuri was elected Chairman of the NRC. A policy of mutual forgiveness was concluded, as well as an amnesty to allow UTO fighters to return to Tajikistan. Constitutional amendments were to be made prior to the holding of early parliamentary elections.
Aug 16, 1997 Renegade commander Mahmud Khudoberdiyev, an ethnic Uzbek and a commander in the Popular Front which brought Emomali Rakhmonov to power in 1992, staged a rebellion against Rakhmonov. Khudoberdiyev’s mutiny appeared to have been triggered by his dissatisfaction at the planned integration of Moslem rebels into the ranks of government forces, which was agreed by Rakhmonov and the Islamic opposition in a peace treaty signed last June in Moscow. Observers also said that economic interests and political influence by family clans were also involved in the rebellion.(Deutsche Presse Agentur)
Aug 18, 1997 It is reported that Khudoberdiyev drew support from the Uzbek government, which feared that concessions to Islamists in neighboring Tajikistan would inspire its heavily suppressed domestic Islamic opposition.(DPA) A senior Uzbek official rejected reports that his country had been intervening in the current unrest in Tajikistan centering around the renegade commander Mahmud Khudoberdiyev.(BBC)
Nov 1997 Rahmonov and Nuri held negotiations to determine the allocation of portfolios in the new government.
Nov 11, 1997 The leader of Tajikistan’s secular opposition National Revival bloc and former prime minister, Abdumalik Abdullojonov, said that comprehensive peace would not be established in the country unless all political parties and movements were involved in the process. Abdullojonov welcomed the peace accord signed in June by the government and the Islamic-led UTO but expressed regret that the authorities had banned his secular opposition bloc thereby barring it from signing the agreement.(BBC)
Mar 1998 Several people, including the brother of the former Prime Minister, Abdullojonov, were sentenced to death for their part in the attempted assassination of Rahmonov in April 1997. An upsurge in fighting, in the vicinity of Dushanbe, between government and opposition forces, threatened to disrupt the peace process. The government accused the UTO of instigating the violence. However, the UTO denied involvement and blamed rebel opposition commanders for carrying out the attack.
May 9, 1998 Uzbek President Karimov said at a news conference that Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Russia had planned an agreement to resist the threat of Islamic states in Central Asia. (BBC) Karimov explained the setting of the alliance by the spread of Wahhabism – the extremist wing of Islamic fundamentalism – both in Central Asia and in the Caucasus. According to Karimov, Wahhabites aimed to come to power and set up Islamic states whenever possible. (Moscow News, 14 May, 1998)
May 27, 1998 The Islamic-led United Tajik Opposition (UTO) said that the recent agreement between the presidents of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Russia to set up an alliance to combat religious extremism in the region would jeopardize the peace process in Tajikistan and might even lead to a resumption of armed conflict in the country. “Such plans of the Russian, Uzbek and Tajik leaders seriously jeopardize the divided Tajik society which will split even deeper if they are implemented,” said a statement by the UTO leadership.(BBC)
Aug 13, 1998 Russian Defense Minister Mr.Igor Sergeyev said, he would meet his counterparts from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan on 2 September to discuss the increasingly complicated situation in Afghanistan and the Taliban advancement toward Russia’s border. (FT Asia Intelligence)
Oct 13, 1998 Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan declared that they would provide all necessary assistance to each other, including military, in the event of aggression. This was stated in a declaration signed by Uzbek President Islam Karimov, Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Tajik President Emomali Rahmonov. Should there arise a situation which, in the opinion of one of the parties, endangered its security, territorial integrity or sovereignty, or threatened regional peace and security, then the three countries would immediately hold consultations with each other and also with international organizations, the document said.(BBC)
Nov 4 – 9, 1998 The renegade Tajik commander Makhmud Khudoberdiyev who had fought for President Rakhmonov for five years against Islamic guerrillas, led some 1,300 supporters across the northern Leninabad region to protest the post-war power sharing agreement signed in June 1997 by president Rakhmonov and his Islamic opponents.(Agence France Presse)
Nov 9, 1998 In remarks broadcast by Russian TV Tajik President Emomali Rahmonov accused former Prime Minister Abdumalik Abdullojonov of masterminding the rebellion in the north of the republic. Rahmonov claimed that Abdullajonov’s people had been with the ethnic Uzbek Afghan General Abdorrashid Dostum in Mazar-e Sharif in northern Afghanistan, and after Dostum’s defeat they had ended up in Tajikistan. Russian TV said the operation against rebel forces, led by Col. Mahmud Khudoyberdiyev, in Leninobod Region in northern Tajikistan was close to completion after government forces regained control of key installations in the Region’s administrative center, Khujand, inflicting heavy losses on the rebels. The television added that government forces were closing in on the rebels’ last stronghold in Ayni District, some 130 km northeast of Dushanbe. According to ITAR-TASS news agency, presidential spokesman Zafar Saidov named Abdullojonov’s brother, Abdughani Abdullojonov, who was a former mayor of Khujand and former First Deputy Transport Minister, among the organizers of the uprising. (BBC)
Nov 12, 1998 According to ITAR-TASS news agency rebels taken prisoner by the Tajik government said that 300 mercenaries from Afghanistan and “dozens” from Uzbekistan took part in last week’s rebellion in the north of the country. Speaking under interrogation, the prisoners “named the exact sites of military camps and training bases outside the republic, including those in the Afghan town of Mazar-e-Sharif and in the Dzhizak Region of Uzbekistan”. One of the prisoners was quoted as saying that while he could not say who the leader of the rebellion was, he personally had seen commander Mahmud Khudoyberdiyev and former Prime Minister Abdumalik Abdullojonov in the rebels’ camp. A Tajik official said that the scale of the “antigovernment plot” had still to be clarified, since the chief rebels were hiding outside of Tajikistan. Talks were under way by diplomatic and other channels to ensure their detention and handover to the Tajik authorities.(BBC)
Nov 13, 1998 Uzbekistan would not allow Tajik anti-government fighters to take refuge in the republic, the Russian news agency reported, quoting Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Komilov. (BBC)
Nov 17, 1998 Russian public TV reported that President Rahmonov had qualified the insurgency in Leninobod Region as an attempt by the Uzbek leadership to stage a “coup d’etat” in Tajikistan. The television went on to broadcast a denial by Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Komilov of any involvement in an attempted coup in neighboring Tajikistan.(BBC)
Apr 1999 President Rakhmonov signed a treaty on alliance and partnership with Russia. It included a tentative agreement for Russia to set up a military base in Tajikistan (Inter Press Service, 11/10/99).
Aug 19, 1999 At a consultative meeting held among President Emomali Rahmonov; Sayed Abdullo Nuri, chairman of the NRC and leader of the United Tajik Opposition; Abdulmajid Dostiyev, deputy National Reconciliation Committee chairman; and heads of law-enforcement and military structures of the country, particular attention was paid to the matter of repatriating Uzbek citizens who had come to Tajikistan following the February 16th bombings in Tashkent and amongst whom were thought to be leaders and supporters of the Uzbek Islamic opposition. It was decided that Uzbeks would be voluntarily repatriated to their permanent places of residence in Uzbekistan and the head of state entrusted a special government commission set up by his decree with the task of dealing with this problem.(BBC)
Aug 21, 1999 It was reported that armed Islamists entered Kyrgyzstan from their bases in Tajikistan, took hostages and demanded to be allowed to enter Uzbekistan. Many of the militants, like their leader, Juma Namangani, were Uzbeks from the Fergana valley, who fled to Tajikistan during the break up of the Soviet Union in the hope of escaping religious and political persecution. Mr Namangani’s group had ties with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), a shadowy organization whose spiritual leader, Tohir Yoldosh, operated from a base in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. In Tajikistan, Mr Namangani’s men had fought alongside the Islamist opposition during the 1992-97 civil war. Mr. Namangani’s men were alleged to have trained guerrillas for operations inside Uzbekistan. As the UN-sponsored peace process matured, the Tajik Islamists, who had accepted a 30% share in government, decided that sheltering armed Uzbeks was increasingly at odds with their political objectives. The break into Kyrgyzstan with the intent to stage rebellion in Uzbekistan was a first attempt of the men of Mr.Namangani to find their place in post-war politics of Central Asia. (The Economist Newspaper Ltd :4 September 1999)
Aug 22, 1999 Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan carried out a joint military operation to flush out a group of 21 fighters from a remote mountainous region of Kyrgyzstan about 15 kilometers (eight miles) from the Tajik border. The operation backfired when Tajikistan accused Uzbek bombers of straying over into its territory in a dawn raid. Following a series of official denials, Uzbek President Islam Karimov finally admitted that his air force might have dropped bombs on Tajikistan in its attempt to “liquidate” the rebel group. Uzbekistan claimed, eastern Tajikistan was a home to secret training camps for Moslem fighters who were trying to overthrow Karimov and set up an Islamic state in Uzbekistan. (Agence France Presse)
Sep 8, 1999 Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan tried to isolate Islamist militants in the mountains to prevent them from breaking through into the Fegrana Valley in Uzbekistan. Tajikistan and Uzbekistan sent additional units and armored vehicles to their borders with Kyrgyzstan to prevent the rebels from escaping. Uzbek aircraft bombed the Kyrgyz village of Kara-Teit. Sporadic skirmishes between the invaders and government troopers were reported. (Agency WPS Defense and Security) The leadership of Kyrgyzstan expressed hope that, in beginning to deal with the crisis, Russia would fight the Uzbek guerrillas. However, according to political observers, Russia was not pleased with Uzbekistan’s policy of drawing close to the West, and had therefore not shown much interest in being involved in direct clashes with the opposition to the government of Uzbek President Islam Karimov. (9 September 1999, BBC)
Sep 9, 1999 Uzbekistan accused the Tajik opposition of backing Islamic extremists who caused the Kyrgyz crisis. In a war of words directed against its Central Asian neighbors, Uzbekistan said the United Tajik Opposition (UTO) was supporting the rebels. “Arms and ammunition from Tajik territory controlled by the UTO is being supplied to the warring detachments in Kyrgyzstan,” an official Uzbek newspaper Narodnoye Slovo said. The newspaper went on to say that the UTO and the leaders of the rebels in Kyrgyzstan “maintain close contacts with the Taliban movement” in Afghanistan. Up to 650 Islamic extremists invaded Kyrgyzstan from Tajikistan following a call by Tajik authorities in August for the Islamic opposition to lay down their arms in line with a peace accord signed in 1997. (Agence France Presse)
Oct 6, 1999 A news commentary in Moscow observed that the strategic objective of the Islamic movement in Uzbekistan was to stage an armed uprising in the Fergana valley, a traditional Islamic stronghold. The commentary noted that Islamic ideas tended to increase in popularity every time the Tashkent authorities tried to stamp them out. Yet the main danger, the commentary noted, came from the nationalist background of the rebels’ plans. The commentary pointed out that in trying to assure a larger following the Islamists were once again harping on the subject of “Tajik historic cultural centers, Samarkand and Bukhara, which the Bolsheviks had handed over to Uzbekistan.” This had been one of the most sensitive issues in Tajik-Uzbek relations of the past decades, which was vigorously exploited in the civil war in Tajikistan. The commentary concluded by observing that an armed rebellion in the Fergana valley could begin as early as next spring, and the current disturbances at the juncture of the Tajik, Kyrgiz, and Uzbek borders were merely a prelude to more serious events. (Moscow news)
Oct 8, 1999 Interior ministers from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) announced the creation of a joint anti-terrorist center. The body was intended to coordinate the fight against Islamic rebels currently operating in parts of Russia, and in the Central Asian republics of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. What remained unclear however was how the center was supposed to function, with Russia making clear its intentions to keep firm control of its own anti-terrorist policies. (Agence France Presse)
Oct 27, 1999 Islamic gunmen, of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, who released four Japanese geologists and several others held hostage for more than two months in Central Asia vowed to return to the region to wage a holy war. The group withdrew to the Tajik-Afghan border. Their leader, Juma Namangoniy, said the group’s main goal was to spread sharia to Uzbekistan. He also stated that the hostages were released without ransom because “we and the Kyrgyz are one people. We have one religion and one Koran.” There were contradictory reports over the terms of the release of the hostages (Agence France Presse)
Nov 10, 1999 In elections in Tajikistan, President Enomali Rakhmonov was reelected with over 90% of the vote. He is seen in the region and elsewhere as too dependent on Russia.
Nov 30, 1999 According to Tajik Deputy Prime Minister Abdurahmon Azimov, the last of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan rebels reportedly left Tajikistan. (BBC)
Dec 27, 1999 The Tajik Supreme Court sentenced two rebels lyoal to Makhmud Khudoiberdiyev to death for their involvement in a November 1998 insurgency. It also sentenced another 33 of Khudoiberdiyev to prison terms of 10-19 years for terrorism, murder or illegal possession of weapons. In all, 121 rebels were arrested during the rebellion which involved about 1000 of Khudoiberdiyev’s men. He remained at large and official accused neighboring Uzbekistan of harboring him. (Agence France Presse)