Last Updated: Friday, 24 October 2014, 15:39 GMT

State of the World's Minorities 2008 - Tajikistan

Publisher Minority Rights Group International
Publication Date 11 March 2008
Cite as Minority Rights Group International, State of the World's Minorities 2008 - Tajikistan, 11 March 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48a7eae1c.html [accessed 26 October 2014]
DisclaimerThis 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.

The situation of religious minorities is relatively better in Tajikistan than in some of its neighbouring countries. While religious groups must register, there are no reports of denial of registration of religious minorities, and Tajikistan permits the formation of political parties of a religious character, something no other country in the region permits. However Tajik lawmakers may be set to reverse this trend: a new draft religion law introduced in January 2006 and in the process of domestic review, was due to be sent to parliament in late 2007. The law on Freedom of Conscience, on Religious Associations and Other [Religious] Organizations would replace the current law on religion and add restrictions, such as increasing to 400 the number of petition signatures required to form a religious association; prohibiting religious education in private houses; prohibiting proselytizing; prohibiting religious associations from participating in political activities; and prohibiting political parties from having a religion-based ideology (which would effectively disallow the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, a political party with two members in the lower house of the national parliament). In June 2007 representatives of 22 minority religious groups signed an open letter to the president and parliament expressing concern that the draft law would effectively outlaw minority religious groups in the country.

There is on the part of the government of Tajikistan, and the population at large, a significant fear of Islamic fundamentalism and this has led the former to ban one group, Hizb ut-Tahrir, though most outside observers describe it as a non-violent organization. Most of its activists who have been imprisoned since 2000 are members of the Uzbek minority.

There were reports in 2007 that the government had begun a 'transmigration' programme to bring Tajiks into strategic areas traditionally inhabited by members of the Uzbek minority. Tajik authorities started resettling some 1,000 Tajik families in November 2006 to a western region mainly populated by Uzbeks. Observers and members of the Uzbek minority claim that central authorities are trying to dilute the Uzbek percentage in a key industrial area. This raises issues of discrimination in relation to land rights and usage, among others.

The lack of educational materials in Uzbek, the increasing obstacles to Uzbek-medium education and even moves by authorities to convert schools which use Uzbek as medium of instruction into Tajik-medium schools continue to be issues that concern this minority, as does their near total exclusion from the higher echelons of political life and public administration. There is no provision for the use of Uzbek or other minority languages between state authorities and the public. All these raise issues of exclusion and discrimination against this minority.

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