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Another Challenge For Tajik Opposition Members: Finding Work

  • Bruce Pannier

Rahmatullo Zoirov, the leader of the opposition Social Democratic Party of Tajikistan, is unable to make a living in his homeland, just like many other rank-and-file party members. (file photo)

Rahmatullo Zoirov, the leader of the opposition Social Democratic Party of Tajikistan, is unable to make a living in his homeland, just like many other rank-and-file party members. (file photo)

According to the deputy leader of the opposition Social Democratic Party of Tajikistan, (SDPT) "help wanted" signs in Tajikistan should specify "opposition party members and their relatives need not apply."

Shokirjon Hakim, who earned a law degree in Moscow, has been seeking employment for three years in his native Tajikistan. The search has been frustrating and fruitless and Hakim told RFE/RL's Tajik Service, known locally as Ozodi, that he thinks he is facing discrimination because of his work in the SDPT.

Hakim said he has been searching for employment in government and nongovernment organizations. He listed some of them for Ozodi: the Institute of Philosophy, Politics and Law at Tajikistan's Academy of Sciences, the National University, Technical University, Commercial University, the Institute of Economics and Rights, the Slavic University, Tajikistan's branch of Russia's Lomonosov University, and other Russian-sponsored universities in Tajikistan.

"When you're labeled opposition, they wouldn't give you work as a janitor," Hakim said. He added that his wife, who is a librarian by training, cannot find work either even though she "is not a member of any party and does not have any interest in this [politics]."

Ozodi spoke with the deputy director of the Institute of Philosophy, Politics and Law, Khayriddin Idiev and asked about Hakim's situation. Idiev said, "I know Shokirjon well, earlier we worked together in this institute."

Idiev said that, in the three months he has held his current position, he has not heard from Hakim.

"Depending on the availability of places in this or that department, his request [for employment] would absolutely be reviewed. There are no problems here," he added.

Idiev denied that there were any political motives behind the institute's hiring policies.

But Hakim said he had spoken in early August with Deputy Prime Minister Marhabo Jabbori and other members of the government who "were surprised at my ordeals and said the situation should not have reached this point. Hakim said he had not heard from them since that conversation.

Ozodi reported that Hakim is not the only member of an opposition party to encounter difficulties finding work in Tajikistan. SDPT chief Rahmatullo Zoirov makes a living practicing law outside Tajikistan. SDPT member Amniyati Abdulnazar, who worked for the Interior Ministry, has not been able to find work for five years, and Davlatsho Shohnusayriev, who worked for the UN, has also been without gainful employment for nearly as long. The party's head in the eastern Gorno-Badakhshan region, Alim Sherzamonov, a mathematics teacher, was forced to migrate to Russia to find work after he could not find a job in his home area.

Another opposition party, the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), has received some attention during the last few years due to a long series of mishaps, which the party's leadership claims is part of a government campaign to eliminate the party. And the IRPT is now close to being banned in Tajikistan for the first time since 1997.

IRPT leader Muhiddin Kabiri is out of the country since he could face arrest on charges of illegally selling land that date back more than a decade. The party leadership just met in Turkey earlier this month, the first time the IRPT leadership has held a meeting outside Tajikistan since the days of the country's civil war.

Mirzo Salimov of RFE/RL's Tajik Service contributed to this report

About This Blog

Qishloq Ovozi is a blog by RFE/RL Central Asia specialist Bruce Pannier that aims to look at the events that are shaping Central Asia and its respective countries, connect some of the dots to shed light on why those processes are occurring, and identify the agents of change. Content will draw on the extensive knowledge and contacts of RFE/RL's Central Asian services but also allow scholars in the West, particularly younger scholars who will be tomorrow’s experts on the region, opportunities to share their views on the evolving situation at this Eurasian crossroad. The name means "Village Voice" in Uzbek. But don't be fooled, Qishloq Ovozi is about all of Central Asia.

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