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Tajikistan: Meet The New Changes

Recently bloggers together with other experts raised concerns regarding the new draft law on religion which according to them threatens religious minority groups. The Muslim community is also concerned about the reforms because if the draft is going to be adopted by the parliament and properly implemented by the law enforcement bodies, then the number of mosques will be considerably decreased. In addition to that, it is prohibited to provide religious teachings to children younger than 7 years old.

The law creates two sets of restrictions- one which is obviously aimed at Islam and the others which are aimed at the minority religions- we shall come on to those later. The law deals with Islam in a particularly direct way. It would restrict mosque building- only one mosque would be allowed per 20,000 people in a rural area, per 30,000 in an urban area and per 80,000 in the capital Dushanbe.

StatGuy says that all missionary and evangelistic activity would be completely banned. He thinks that the ‘proposed law would impose exceedingly difficult and meticulous requirements for registration of religious bodies’.

Even if a religious community can meet the exceptionally high number of signatures required to apply for legal status, Article 20 also requires a large number of documents – from both the state and the religious community – to be appended to the registration application.

Another issue which is discussed in the blogosphere is the deployment of Indian military base in Tajikistan. The discussions about the Indian military base in Aini airport is an old issue but the official sources still deny any information. Indian bloggers are already talking about India as a future superpower which needs to have its military bases outside its territory and the Aini airport would be a good start. Harsha and his friends are discussing the advantages of India having a military base in Tajikistan.

Tajikistan shares borders with China, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan and is separated from POK by a narrow strip of Afghan territory. In case of a war with Pakistan, India will be able to attack Pakistan from both sides, and this is one of the major advantages that this airbase offers to India.

The narcotics problem in Tajikistan is getting discussed all the time. Olga gives some information on the current situation. She gives a good description of what is happening in Tajikistan now in terms of drug-trafficking.

In continuation to Olga’s post on drug-trafficking, David Trilling tells us the story of several Russian girls who are drug-addicted and how they deal with the hardships they experience in this country. He is a 2nd year MIA at SIPA and is currently in Tajikstan working on a documentary about the heroin trade in Central Asia.

They are abused, forced to have sex without condoms, beaten and burned with cigarettes, on the run from the police (who rape them days on end when they are arbitrarily arrested), and unable to even have a shower in their sad little home. The only source of running water, when it is on, is a sickly little sink in the front yard that appears also to serve as a toilet.

Bonnie Boyd at Central Asia reports that the Tajik government together with World Bank is trying to solicit investment in the cotton industry. The cotton industry is one of the major sectors of the economy but the lack of investment makes it profitless. According to Bonnie, even if the investment will be solicited, the current problems in the cotton industry are hard to overcome.

…it does not have many value-added aspects of the industry, including ginning and baling facilities and warehouses to support those parts of cotton enterprise…

Another aspect of Tajikistan’s cotton agriculture is that it grows medium-staple and long-staple cotton (long-staple makes the silkiest yarn and is most valuable), which means that the loss of value-added processes costs even more.

Again, David Trilling reports on police corruption in Tajikistan. He had an experience to make the local traffic police officer abandon taking a bribe when he saw the camera of David.

The main avenue through Dushanbe is lined every 50-100 meters with pairs of cops in huge goofy hats. All day long, every day of the week, they use their batons to stop random drivers for no apparent traffic infraction and, after some fawned inspection of papers, solicit bribes.

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