It's a Lock In!: Tajikistan's Ruling Party Holds Pre-election Rallies by Force

Tajik President Emomali stands alongside Vladimir Putin and Aleksandr Lukashenko as Russia win IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. Photo by Ivan Uralsky. Demotix ID: 4848568.

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon stands between Vladimir Putin and Aleksandr Lukashenko as Russia wins the Ice Hockey World Championship. Photo by Ivan Uralsky. Demotix ID: 4848568.

The National Democratic Party of Tajikistan (NDPT), Tajikistan's ruling party, is taking parliamentary elections very seriously, despite the fact that its victory is not in doubt. 

On February 22 — a day-off for the country — employees of state institutions, schoolchildren and university students were forced to go to a local park in Dushanbe at 8 ‘o’ clock in the morning, according to reports.

After waiting for a couple of hours under the rain outside the park, people were driven inside to listen to the the pre-parliamentary election campaign of the NDPT, chaired by long-term President Emomali Rahmon.

Then, somebody locked the gates. 

Fabiano Mavlyanov, a Facebook user, described the moment and posted some photos in the public group Ya Dushanbinets (I am a Dushanbe resident), subsequently picked up by the Central Asian news service Ozodagon:

 Внутри мы поняли, что нас, то есть весь город, собрали для агитации голосования за ДЕМОКРАТИЧЕСКУЮ ПАРТИЮ…мы поняли это по листовкам…пройдя круг мы решили выйти и в итоге натолкнулись на проблему, которая противоречит демократии – нас тупо не выпускали с парка…закрыв ворота нам запретили выходить…вопрос – и это та демократия, за которую мы должны голосовать?

Getting inside, we understood that they had gathered us — the entire city, that is — to take part in the pre-election campaign of the DEMOCRATIC PARTY. We understood this from the flyers they distributed. Milling around we decided to get out, and eventually ran into a problem that contradicts democracy — the gates had been closed and they did not let us out of the park. A question arises: is this the democracy we should be voting for?

Indifferents to the opposition party find the exits blocked. Photo from Ozodagon. Taken with permission.

Indifferents to the ruling party find the exits blocked. Photo from Ozodagon. Taken with permission.

The event was condemned by other users of the social network.

Behruz Uzakov, another member of the same Facebook group, wrote:

Это уже полный беспредел, как можно закрыт людей против их воли, тем более в выходной день?!. Уму непостижимо!

This is a complete mess, how can they close in people against their will, especially on a day-off?! It boggles the mind! 

A reader of Ozodagon news service, criticized the involvement of students in the campaign:

чи шумо гусфанд хастед ки намедонед ки шуморо ба кучо ва чаро мебарад. агар донишчуяш хамин бошад вой бар холи дигарон!

Are you a flock of sheep to the extent that you don't know where you are going and why they are taking you there? If students behave like this, alas for the others! 

However, another reader of the service, believes that the students were forced to go:

Аз касе напурси медонад ки унчо мачбуран бурдаанд. Хатто метавонам бо боварии комил гуям, ки бештари донишчуёни бечораро аз чониби деканат тахдид ба хорич кардаанд, ки агар нараванд хатман хорич мекунандашон. Пас кучост демократи?

Everyone knows that [the organizers] took [students] to the park by force. I am pretty confident that most of the students were threatened with expulsion by their deans if they refused to go the park. So, where is democracy?

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