UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Wesnesday 23 March 2005
TAJIKISTAN: Opposition leaders support protests in Kyrgyzstan
DUSHANBE, 23 Mar 2005 (IRIN) - Opposition leaders in Tajikistan say they support the people's protests in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan, but condemn acts of violence.
"Violation of the law by the Kyrgyz government and the Central Elections Commission made the people in Kyrgyzstan go to the streets. They simply did not have any other choice," Rakhmatullo Valiev, deputy head of the Democratic Party of Tajikistan (DPT), one of the major opposition parties in the country, told IRIN in the Tajik capital Dushanbe on Wednesday. "Protesters both in [the southern Kyrgyz cities of] Osh and Jalal-Abad saw that they couldn't achieve their demands through legal means."
"One should have expected such moves from some political groups in Kyrgyzstan as parliamentary elections were held there with violations of election rules. The population is protesting against that and thus expressing its disagreement," Shokirjon Khakimov, leader of the Social Democratic Party of Tajikistan, another opposition group, told IRIN.
"In many CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States] countries all three powers - courts, police and judiciary - are concentrated in one hand. Therefore, the authorities are doing whatever they want. The societies in those countries have moved far ahead of their governments and that's why these problems occur," the DPT's Valiev said.
But the opposition leader denounced violence by protesters. "I do not support illegal actions like setting fire to buildings, robbery and looting," he said, adding however that it was a natural reaction from people who had lost belief in their government.
The former Soviet republic of Tajikistan saw a five-year civil war in the 1990s that claimed the lives of more than 80,000 people. The conflict ended in 1997 with a power-sharing agreement brokered by the UN.
Both Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan held parliamentary polls on 27 February which, according to many international organisations including the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), fell short of international standards.
Opposition parties and groups in the two neighbouring Central Asian states won a few seats, while the pro-government candidates won the overwhelming majority.
"There were violations of people's rights during the parliamentary elections in Tajikistan on 27 February too. Poll results were flawed and rigged, but this did not turn into demonstrations because Tajikistan has already passed this stage of protest and Tajik citizens know where it can lead. Therefore, we are now trying to resolve our problems through legal ways," Valiev said.
The civil war in Tajikistan was triggered in May 1992 when clashes broke out between supporters of the government and the mainly Islamist opposition during political meetings on two separate squares in the capital.