Fergana News Agency: «Memorial» Russian human rights center presents alternative report on small ethnic groups in Tajikistan

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) started to consider 9-11 periodic reports of Tajikistan for 2012-2015 on the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. At the same time, the UN Committee got acquainted with the alternative report on the same issue of the Russian Anti-Discrimination Centre (ADC) of the Memorial human rights centre, which turned out to be the only non-governmental organisation that met with the Committee and told experts about violations of minority rights in Tajikistan, which testifies to the difficult situation of civil society in this republic, according to the website of ADC.

The Committee noted the excessive brevity of the report provided by the state bodies of Tajikistan and the inadequacy of the data contained therein. Questions from the Committee were caused by the absence of comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation, including the definition of racial discrimination in accordance with the Convention, persistent denial of the need for government programmes to support the Roma minority of the Jughi (the state even conducted a special “scientific” study to justify this position), the situation of refugees, asylum seekers and persons without citizenship (prohibition to live in certain areas, difficult access to social and medical assistance), problems related to renaming of geographical places without taking into account the opinion of the population.

An alternative report of the ADC Memorial in CERD is devoted to the situation of the Jughi or Lyuli (Central Asian Gypsies/Roma), Pamirians and Yagnobians – groups that do not have their own statehood. The report notes the specific problems of each of these groups, as well as the general ones: the non-recognition of their ethnic identity and the value of their languages and culture on the part of the state, the lack of state support in the field of education, and a weak representation in state bodies. The report is based on field materials collected in Tajikistan in 2017, as well as from open sources. The report cites the words of representatives of both the described minorities and the ethnic majority.

“Tajikistan’s declared policy of creating a ‘unified nation’ (with emphasis on the tragic consequences of disunity as a cause of civil war) has led to neglect of the cultural and social needs of ethnic minorities, giving rise to overt or subtle discrimination that can take different forms in the case of each of these ethnic groups,” the report notes which can be found here.

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