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id: 104895

date: 4/19/2007 3:42

refid: 07DUSHANBE590

origin: Embassy Dushanbe

classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

destination: 07DUSHANBE590

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----------------- header ends ----------------

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 DUSHANBE 000590

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/CEN

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV, PREL, PHUM, TI

SUBJECT: DAS FEIGENBAUM VISITS NEW ANTI-CORRUPTION AGENCY

DUSHANBE 00000590  001.2 OF 003

1.  (U)  SUMMARY:  At the top of the agenda for many Tajik

officials is attracting private business to Tajikistan.

However, Tajikistan's current legal and regulatory environment,

infested with corruption, deters American businesses.   In a

meeting with Sherkhon Salimov, Director of the new State Agency

on Anti-Corruption and Financial Control April 13, SCA Deputy

Assistant Secretary Evan Feigenbaum explained that an

anti-corruption agency in Tajikistan can only help to attract

American businesses, if it can weed out corruption in an

effective, transparent and public manner, and at every level.

END SUMMARY.

WHAT DOES THE ANTI-CORRUPTION AGENCY DO?

2.  (SBU)  Salimov openly admitted that corruption is so endemic

in Tajik society that even President Rahmon has acknowledged it

is a problem and the people have demanded the government address

it.  However, Salimov also confessed that the problem is

daunting and the new agency cannot possibly cut out all

corruption in society.  The government is in the process of

drafting legislation that defines the anti-corruption agency's

mandate.  The agency has two primary priorities: the first is to

examine expenditures of state finances and resources, the state

budget and its credits and loans.  The second is to wage an

anti-corruption campaign.

3.  (U)  The agency is tasked with preventing corruption,

investigating corruption cases and processing the cases through

the judicial system if applicable.   Its scope will affect all

fields of life from businesses to public associations, state

agencies and individuals.  It aims to expose obstacles created

by government agencies and will investigate what causes and

leads to corruption.  To prevent corruption within the

anti-corruption agency itself, the general prosecutor's office

will have some oversight.  The agency will report to the

president's office.

4.  (U)  Salimov emphasized that the anti-corruption agency is

responsible to the people.  The agency plans to educate the

people on their rights and will set up a division to help

individuals take their cases to the courts.  By educating and

empowering the people, Salimov says, they will begin to demand

and exercise their rights and freedoms.

WHY BUSINESSES DON'T COME TO TAJIKISTAN

5.  (U)  Deputy Assistant Secretary Feigenbaum encouraged

Salimov and the anti-corruption agency to investigate corruption

on every level including among high level government officials.

In order to develop a robust relationship between Tajikistan and

private American businesses, inspections, bribes, and

overregulation are the types of obstacles the Tajik government

needs to tackle.  He explained that the perception among

American businesses is that in Tajikistan there is a range of

corruption starting from the militia on the street who pull

motorists over for bribes to local people who want to start a

business but are obstructed by inspection after inspection.

International businesses are primarily concerned with

individuals or government agencies who want a piece of their

contract and large-scale organized corruption.

6.  (U)  Feigenbaum also noted over-regulation as an impediment

to investment, citing a World Bank report on "Doing Business"

indicating it takes over 60 days to open a business in

Tajikistan.  The hardest challenge for the government is to find

the right balance between loosening constraints to encourage

growth and removing obstacles that prohibit productivity.

Feigenbaum recommended to Salimov that prosecuting corrupt

individuals or organizations from the senior levels in a

transparent, open and public way would teach others a lesson and

send a strong message to the people that the government would

not tolerate corruption.

7.  (U)  Salimov generally agreed with Feigenbaum's comments and

stated the agency will go after all individuals guilty of

corruption regardless of rank or government branch.

8.  (SBU)  COMMENT:  It is still too early to tell whether

Salimov (himself rumored to be corrupt during his days as a

Dushanbe prosecutor) and the new agency will have any positive

impact.  Salimov and the Tajik government know well that

international governments, donor agencies and businesses want

DUSHANBE 00000590  002.2 OF 003

them to actively fight corruption, but until the agency

institutes real legislative and regulatory changes and goes

after high-level government officials, corruption will remain an

obstacle to economic development and democratic progress.   END

COMMENT.

SUBJECT:  DAS FEIGENBAUM MEETS WITH NEW ANTI-CORRUPTION AGENCY

1.  (U)  SUMMARY:  At the top of the agenda for many Tajik

officials is attracting private business to Tajikistan.

However, Tajikistan's current legal and regulatory environment,

infested with corruption, deters American businesses.   In a

meeting with Sherkhon Salimov, Director of the new State Agency

on Anti-Corruption and Financial Control April 13, Deputy

Assistant Secretary Evan Feigenbaum explained that an

anti-corruption agency in Tajikistan can only help to attract

American businesses, if it can weed out corruption in an

effective, transparent and public manner, and at every level.

END SUMMARY.

WHAT DOES THE ANTI-CORRUPTION AGENCY DO?

2.  (SBU)  Salimov openly admitted that corruption is so endemic

in Tajik society that even President Rahmon has acknowledged it

is a problem and the people have demanded the government address

it.  However, Salimov also confessed that the problem is

daunting and the new agency cannot possibly cut out all

corruption in society.  The government is in the process of

drafting legislation that defines the anti-corruption agency's

mandate.  The agency has two primary priorities: the first is to

examine expenditures of state finances and resources, the state

budget and its credits and loans.  The second is to wage an

anti-corruption campaign.

3.  (U)  The agency is tasked with preventing corruption,

investigating corruption cases and processing the cases through

the judicial system if applicable.   Its scope will affect all

fields of life from businesses to public associations, state

agencies and individuals.  It aims to expose obstacles created

by government agencies and will investigate what causes and

leads to corruption.  To prevent corruption within the

anti-corruption agency itself, the general prosecutor's office

will have some oversight.  The agency will report to the

president's office.

4.  (U)  Salimov emphasized that the anti-corruption agency is

responsible to the people.  The agency plans to educate the

people on their rights and will set up a division to help

individuals take their cases to the courts.  By educating and

empowering the people, Salimov says, they will begin to demand

and exercise their rights and freedoms.

WHY BUSINESSES DON'T COME TO TAJIKISTAN

5.  (U)  Deputy Assistant Secretary Feigenbaum encouraged

Salimov and the anti-corruption agency to investigate corruption

on every level including among high level government officials.

In order to develop a robust relationship between Tajikistan and

private American businesses, inspections, bribes, and

overregulation are the types of obstacles the Tajik government

needs to tackle.  He explained that the perception among

American businesses is that in Tajikistan there is a range of

corruption starting from the militia on the street who pull

motorists over for bribes to local people who want to start a

business but are obstructed by inspection after inspection.

International businesses are primarily concerned with

individuals or government agencies who want a piece of their

contract and large-scale organized corruption.

6.  (U)  Feigenbaum also noted over-regulation as an impediment

to investment, citing a World Bank report on "Doing Business"

indicating it takes over 60 days to open a business in

Tajikistan.  The hardest challenge for the government is to find

the right balance between loosening constraints to encourage

growth and removing obstacles that prohibit productivity.

Feigenbaum recommended to Salimov that prosecuting corrupt

individuals or organizations from the senior levels in a

transparent, open and public way would teach others a lesson and

send a strong message to the people that the government would

not tolerate corruption.

7.  (U)  Salimov generally agreed with Feigenbaum's comments and

stated the agency will go after all individuals guilty of

DUSHANBE 00000590  003.2 OF 003

corruption regardless of rank or government branch.

8.  (SBU)  COMMENT:  It is still too early to tell whether

Salimov (himself rumored to be corrupt during his days as a

Dushanbe prosecutor) and the new agency will have any positive

impact.  Salimov and the Tajik government know well that

international governments, donor agencies and businesses want

them to actively fight corruption, but until the agency

institutes real legislative and regulatory changes and goes

after high-level government officials, corruption will remain an

obstacle to economic development and democratic progress.   END

COMMENT.

JACOBSON

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

id: 104904

date: 4/19/2007 7:01

refid: 07DUSHANBE591

origin: Embassy Dushanbe

classification: UNCLASSIFIED

destination: 07DUSHANBE591

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----------------- header ends ----------------

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DUSHANBE 000591

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

FOR SCA/CEN

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PINR, TNAR, TI, AF

SUBJECT: CONFERENCE ON U.S.-TAJIK RELATIONS ALLOWS PRAISE AND

CRITICISM OF US ROLE IN REGION

DUSHANBE 00000591  001.2 OF 002

1. Summary and Comment: The April 13th conference "15 Years of

U.S.-Tajik Relations" offered few surprises in terms of opinions

or positions, but did provide an open forum for real debate and

discourse about the U.S. role and policy in Tajikistan and the

region.  Some Tajik government officials praised U.S.

cooperation in the region, while others took gentle stabs at the

U.S. military presence throughout Central Asia after September

11th and increasing narcotics production in Afghanistan.  A few

academics cited their opinion that the U.S. government used the

events of September 11th to expand its military presence in the

region and to get closer to the oil and gas reserves of the

Caspian Sea.  The conference -- one of a series of fifteenth

anniversary events marking Tajikistan's bilateral relations --

was a useful opportunity to reach out to the Tajik public that

gets most of its information from Russian media and to explain

the nuances of U.S regional and bilateral priorities.  End

summary.

2.  (U)  Deputy Assistant Secretary Evan Feigenbaum gave the

keynote speech and disabused the notion that the U.S.

government's main role in Tajikistan was to further U.S.

geopolitical strategic goals.  On the contrary, he highlighted

the fact that the Untied States and Tajikistan faced the mutual

problems of terrorism, narcotics, crime and corruption.  First

Deputy Foreign Minister Saimuddin Yatimov expressed thanks for

U.S. direct technical support through the Export Control and

Border Security office (EXBS), and praised ongoing joint

military and counter-narcotics efforts.  The Director of the

Center for Strategic Research, Suhrob Sharipov, highlighted that

the United States was an important partner in the field of

counter-terrorism, since both Tajikistan and the United States

faced the common threats of extremism and terrorism.  He noted

that much of Tajikistan's security and stability depended on

events in Afghanistan and that the U.S. and Tajikistan were

working closely to improve border security.  Finally, while

achieving democracy demanded a great deal of time, he added that

Tajikistan had implemented many political reforms, and was

moving closer to democracy.

3.  (U) Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan leader Muhiddin

Kabiri offered both words of praise and criticism for the United

States; he stated that he believed there were two different

"Americas": one for those who live in the United States, and a

different world for those living in other countries and looking

at it from the outside.  In general, Muslims do not have a

positive view of the United States, primarily as a result of its

military actions in the Middle East (he commented that Muslims

could understand attacking the Taliban in Afghanistan, but could

not justify a war in Iraq) and constant U.S. support for Israel

in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  He further added the

United States pursues double standards against Muslims around

the world; the United States voices support for human rights,

democracy and rule of law, but at the same time supports

autocratic Islamic regimes which violate these very principles.

4.  (U)  Despite these words of criticism, Kabiri was encouraged

by U.S. support for the Saudi initiative to bring peace to the

Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  He also thanked the United States

for its intervention in stopping the genocide of Bosnian and

Kosovar Muslims.  He also praised the fact that President Bush

hosts an annual Iftar dinner in Washington for the heads of

Islamic states, and the fact that Secretary Rice wore a

headscarf during her 2005 visit to a Dushanbe mosque.

5.  (U)  Kabiri predicted that a new generation of Muslims was

currently developing independent of the radical and

fundamentalist movements, which would eventually sustain

peaceful development.  While this can be achieved with or

without the help of friendly governments, such assistance would

expedite this peaceful development.  A superpower such as the

United States can help, since they have great influence over

existing authoritarian governments, whose existence he compared

to slavery.  As the U.S. was able to overcome slavery, and

former slaves were able to achieve their freedom and equal

rights, modern-day Muslims will be able to follow this same

path.

6.  (U)  During the discussion at the end of the conference,

participants again displayed both praise and criticism for U.S.

involvement in Tajikistan.  One representative from the Ministry

of Energy and Industry criticized the Russian government for not

spending additional funds to raise the level of the dam at the

Rogun hydropower station.  (Comment: The Russians have thus far

proved unwilling to increase the proposed level of the dam from

DUSHANBE 00000591  002.2 OF 002

285 to 330 meters.  End Comment.)  He thanked the U.S.

government for its exploratory projects in the Tajik energy

sector.  A professor expressed his gratitude for U.S.

educational exchange programs, including the Future Leaders

Exchange Program (FLEX) that sends high school students for a

year to the United States, and commented that such programs were

beneficial for both sides.

7.  (U)  Another Tajik participant criticized U.S. policy in

Afghanistan, stating that the Taliban was reviving and that

narcotics production had skyrocketed over the past two years.

Another participant queried how the role of Islam affected U.S.

policy in Central Asia.  PolOff gave the closing remarks at the

conference, providing answers to the various questions posed by

the participants.  He replied that while narcotics production in

Afghanistan had increased, it was also important to note the

achievements that have been accomplished in that country the

last five years, including free elections and women's

participation in Parliament for the first time in Afghan

history.  On religious freedom, he explained that given the fact

that the United States was founded on the principle of freedom

of religion, and that thousands of mosques, churches and temples

peacefully co-exist in the United States, the United States

supports the rights of Central Asians and people around the

world to peacefully and freely worship any religion without

interference.

JACOBSON

SIGNATURE

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

id: 105163

date: 4/20/2007 12:54

refid: 07DUSHANBE604

origin: Embassy Dushanbe

classification: UNCLASSIFIED

destination: 07STATE2613499

header:

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DE RUEHDBU #0604/01 1101254

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0112

INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE

RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1435

RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 1952

RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS 1202

RUEHDBU/AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE 1771

----------------- header ends ----------------

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DUSHANBE 000604

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/CEN, DRL, G/TIP

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PHUM, PREL, TI

SUBJECT: TAJIKISTAN'S SUBMISSION FOR G/TIP MANAGED FY 2007 ESF AND

INCLE

REF: STATE 2613499

DUSHANBE 00000604  001.2 OF 002

1.  Tajikistan was ranked in Tier Two for trafficking in persons

in 2006.  Despite the government's will to combat trafficking in

persons, its limited capacity and resources means that

Tajikistan is in danger of falling into the Tier Two Watch List

category.  International organizations and nongovernmental

organizations have stepped in to fill gaps in victim assistance

and awareness raising.  However, more assistance is needed in

building the capacity of law enforcement bodies to investigate

trafficking cases and prosecute trafficking criminals.

2.  Embassy Dushanbe has solicited proposals from local and

international nongovernmental organizations and international

organizations for the G/TIP managed FY 2007 ESF and INCLE funds

per reftel request.  Post received a total of 11 proposals and

convened a panel of officers from the Department of State,

Department of Justice and USAID to review the proposals.  Below

is the summary information and abstract of two proposals Post

recommends for further consideration by G/TIP.  Post will

separately transmit all proposals including the two recommended

ones to G/TIP via email per reftel's request.  The projects

below do not duplicate other efforts by the Embassy and

complement assistance by other organizations.

3.  Project 1

Name: The World of Healthy Children

Requested Funding Amount: USD 85,884

Project Title: Elaboration and Implementation of

Anti-Trafficking Training Modules for Police, Judges and

Prosecutors in the Sughd Region, of Tajikistan

Project Duration: One year

Proposal Abstract:

The World of Healthy Children proposes to implement awareness

training for the police, judges and prosecutors in Sughd Region

(training of trainers).  The overall objective is to contribute

to the fight against trafficking in persons by enhancing the

capabilities of the police, judges and prosecutors in the Sughd

region to understand trafficking in persons and consequently to

detect and adequately deal with cases of trafficking in persons

along agreed upon standards (best practices).

Proposed activities include developing training modules to raise

awareness, training the police, judges and prosecutors (based on

best practices); training trainer teams (police, judges,

prosecutors and NGO); implementation of trainings; and a

follow-up seminar with participating experts and the project

team to exchange experiences  and to adjust the training module.

Expected results include a model training curriculum and

materials for awareness training police, judges and prosecutors,

the enhanced capacity of Sughd region trainer teams to adjust

and implement awareness trainings, and the improved co-operation

and information exchange among police, judges and prosecutors

and NGOs working with victims of human trafficking.

4.  Project 2

Name: Chashmai Hayot

Requested Funding Amount:  USD 36,616.40

Project Title: Untitled

Project Duration: Two years

Proposal Abstract:

Chashmai Hayot aims to increase awareness of trafficking in

persons among high risk groups such as youth, migrant workers,

and the Uzbek-language populations in the Sughd Region.  It will

also provide victims assistance and rehabilitation.  Planned

activities include:

Conducting seminars, round tables, and meetings;

Summer education camps and game competitions;

Mobile theater shows;

Preparation and distribution of informational booklets;

Telephone Hotline;

Providing victims assistance including

Rendering of psychological rehabilitation;

Rendering of a legal aid;

Rendering lawyer services at protection of their rights in court;

Vocational guidance and employment;

Rendering of medical aid;

Assistance in obtaining a certain professional qualification and

job-placement.

Chashmai Hayot will cooperate with

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

id: 105467

date: 4/24/2007 9:22

refid: 07DUSHANBE622

origin: Embassy Dushanbe

classification: UNCLASSIFIED

destination: 07DUSHANBE622

header:

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DE RUEHDBU #0622/01 1140922

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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0134

INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1437

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RUEHDBU/AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE 1798

----------------- header ends ----------------

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DUSHANBE 000622

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/CEN, DRL

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, KDEM, TI

SUBJECT: TAJIKISTAN GOVERNMENT TO STUDENTS:  NO MINISKIRTS OR HIJABS

DUSHANBE 00000622  001.2 OF 002

1.  SUMMARY:  First it was gold teeth, then it was graduation

parties and students driving to school, now girls in Tajikistan

are fraught over the fact they will no longer be allowed to wear

jewelry or miniskirts to school.  In remarks to the press,

President Rahmon said that students at public schools should not

be allowed to spend money for extravagant graduation parties,

and students are not to use cell phones in classes or drive cars

to school.  The Minister of Education, Abdujabbor Rahmonov has

taken the president's informal commentary further and also

ordered a new dress code, complaining that girls had been

wearing revealing clothing, such as miniskirts, to school and

too much jewelry.  The new dress code gives the minister an

excuse to reintroduce his informal ban on hijabs.  This de facto

order will be treated and enforced by education administrators

as real legislation.  PolOff met with Vahobjon Abdulazizov, Head

of the International Relations Department at the Ministry of

Education April 20 to discuss media reports of the Ministry's

ban on hijabs and miniskirts.  END SUMMARY

JUST A RECOMMENDATION?

2.  Abdulazizov repeatedly emphasized that the new rules are not

an official order from the government and will not be written

into the law.  However, teachers should enforce the new dress

regulations.  According to media reports the Minister of

Education, Abdujabbor Rahmonov, promises to fire any teachers

who do not comply.  (Note: A professor from the Slavonic

University told the Ambassador she had questioned this policy

openly during a command meeting with Rahmonov last week; he

confirmed "she would be fired" if she did not comply.  End

note.)  Even though President Rahmon has spoken out publicly and

ordered a ban on cell phones, graduation parties and students,

he has not officially signed a presidential order or decree

banning such activities.  He also has not mentioned banning the

hijab in public statements.

3.  The Ministry will publish a brochure with pictures of

acceptable dress for high school students.  The brochure does

not recommend one standard uniform and will permit western style

dress as well as traditional Tajik dress.  Girls are permitted

to wear traditional Tajik head scarves, but not hijabs.  Boys

can wear traditional Tajik hats, but not Islamic prayer caps.

A MORE EQUAL SOCIETY?

4.  Abdulazizov's rationale for the new dress code is to promote

a more egalitarian learning environment.  He explained that it

is not fair for wealthy students to drive to school in nice

cars, dripping with gold jewelry; it gives other students an

inferiority complex and makes them feel too embarrassed to

attend school.  (Comment: Many Dushanbe residents quietly wonder

whether President Rahmon's son will still drive one of his

Porsches everyday to Tajik National University where he is

enrolled.  End comment.)

5.  The ministry's justification for banning what essentially is

an ostentatious display of wealth and returning to the

appearance of communist era social equality is in line with

President Rahmon's criticism of citizens with gold teeth and his

public comments against Tajiks frivolously spending money on

large post-funeral commemorations involving lavish meals for

guests.  Although such customs have long been a Tajik tradition,

they are not a requirement in Islam.  The president's argument

is that Tajiks should save their money or spend it more wisely.

(Note: Ironically, because "gold" capped teeth are much less

expensive than porcelain crowns, his instructions may put a

greater burden on the low-income, dentally-challenged. End

Note.)

SECULARISM OR RESTRICTING RELIGIOUS FREEDOM?

6.  This is not the first time the Minister of Education has

spoken out against the hijab.  At a press conference in October

2005, he publicly stated that girls should not be allowed to

wear hijabs in schools.  The government later rescinded the

statement and said that those were the minister's personal views

and not an official order.  Because it has not been an official

order, some girls who had been expelled for wearing the hijab

were readmitted.  Since 2005, expelled girls have approached

Islamic Renaissance Party members for help and the party has

been successful reinstating most girls approaching university

and high school administrators to explain the significance of

DUSHANBE 00000622  002.2 OF 002

the hijab.  Islamic Renaissance Party officials told PolOff they

fear that for every girl who approaches the party, many more

remain silent and accept the expulsion, or turn to religious

madrassas.

7.  When PolOff pointed out the possible consequences of the

law, including lower attendance among girls, resulting in a

poorly educated female population, and girls turning to

madrassas, Abdulazizov countered that a very small number of

girls will actually be affected by the new rule.  He argued that

the girls do not actually want to wear hijabs themselves, but

are forced to wear it by their parents and therefore will not

likely turn to madrassas or grow up more religious.  The local

press quoted the Minister of Education as saying that "an

oppositional party which is eagerly striving for power"

persuaded the girls to wear hijabs.

8.  Abdulazizov repeatedly justified the Ministry's decision to

prohibit girls from wearing hijabs based on the fact that

Tajikistan is a secular state.  PolOff explained that a secular

state asserts freedom of religion and does not interfere in the

free practice of religion.  The Minister's recent directive

indicates that Tajikistan is a not a secular state, but rather

laical, which places a greater emphasis on citizens not engaging

in religious practices in public at all.  PolOff pointed out

that the government is restricting religious freedom.

Abdulazizov responded by offering an excuse that many Tajik

bureaucrats frequently spout-that Tajikistan is a young country

with only 15 years of independence; the United States should be

patient.

9.  COMMENT:  The Ministry of Education believes that by

implementing new dress regulations, it will force students to

focus on learning and improve the quality of Tajik students.  In

a better world, instead of chastising students for the way they

dress, the ministry would focus on penalizing students for

bribing teachers and buying their diplomas and make efforts to

improve the quality of teaching, provide more textbooks, and

expand schools so that students don't have to attend classes in

shifts.  Instead, the new edicts seem designed more to deflect

attention from the serious afflictions of Tajikistan's crumbling

education system rather than correct the shortcomings.

10.  Abdulazizov would not comment on the source of the

directive.  If the education minister acted alone, it is

disconcerting that no other ministers, government officials or

parliamentarians, besides Muhiddin Kabiri of the Islamic Party,

have spoken out against the ban of the hijab.  It is unlikely

though that the Minister of Education would have acted without

the president's office's consent.  Rahmon's new rules are what

may be the beginning of a strange turn to an increasingly

state-controlled society where the government interferes

directly in people's daily lives.

JACOBSON

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

id: 105502

date: 4/24/2007 12:11

refid: 07DUSHANBE623

origin: Embassy Dushanbe

classification: CONFIDENTIAL

destination: 06DUSHANBE2210|07DUSHANBE518

header:

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DE RUEHDBU #0623/01 1141211

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

R 241211Z APR 07

FM AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0136

INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1439

RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 1956

RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS 1206

RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 2065

RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 2097

RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 2072

RUEHDBU/AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE 1800

----------------- header ends ----------------

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DUSHANBE 000623

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/CEN, DRL

E.O. 12958: DECL:  4/24/2017

TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, TI

SUBJECT: TAJIKISTAN CRACKS DOWN ON RELIGION, CANCELS JEHOVAH'S

WITNESSES MEETINGS

REF: A) DUSHANBE 518  B) 06 DUSHANBE 2210

CLASSIFIED BY: TJACOBSON, AMBASSADOR, STATE, STATE.

REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)

1.  (C)  SUMMARY:  A deputy mayor of Dushanbe city along with

officers from the State Committee on National Security shut down

a Jehovah's Witnesses meeting of members and supporters on April

2.  On April 3 and 4, the State Committee on National Security

summoned one of the group's leaders for questioning.  The latest

government interference is part of a disturbing trend towards

religious groups, particularly Christian groups who proselytize.

 Valeri Dudaev, a Jehovah's Witness, met with PolOff on April 21

to discuss the group's ongoing problems.   END SUMMARY.

JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES NOT ALLOWED TO MEET

2.  (C)  On the evening of April 2 the Jehovah's Witnesses had

planned a large gathering of members and supporters to celebrate

a religious holiday.  The group had reserved a meeting space in

a local theater.  The manager of the theater building where the

Jehovah's Witnesses were supposed to meet told Dudaev that

Dushanbe mayor Ubaidulloyev gave him a verbal order not to

permit Christian gatherings.  On April 2 when the deputy mayor

and State Committee on National Security officials approached

Dudaev, they told him that the Jehovah's Witnesses have no right

to gather without government permission.  According to Tajik

law, registered religious groups do have the right of

association.

3.  (C)  On April 3 and 4, the State Committee on National

Security summoned Dudaev for questioning.  Officials threatened

to take him to court for violating laws and not obtaining

permission from the city to hold a meeting.  Officials were not

able to show Dudaev copies of the laws he allegedly violated.

They also threatened to deport him back to Russia, where Dudaev

is a citizen, and to create problems for the new building the

group is constructing.  The State Committee on National Security

also instructed him to report names of anybody who approaches

the group and wants to join the Jehovah's Witnesses.

USING REGISTRATION AS A WEAPON

4.  (SBU)  The Jehovah's Witnesses are registered at the

national level with the Department of Religious Affairs at the

Ministry of Culture and have the right to operate in Tajikistan.

 However, for the past five years, the group has been unable to

register a branch office in Turson-Zade.   The local government

says it is the national government's responsibility to register

the branch and the national government says it is the local

government's responsibility.  This catch-22 is the government's

ploy to keep the group from acquiring official status.

5.  (C)  In the meantime, while the group battles on and tries

to register, for the past two years its members have been

regularly called in by the local government offices at least

once a month for questioning and harassment.  The questioning

occurs most frequently in Turson-Zade where the group is not

considered a legal organization.  Dudaev confirmed that although

members have been harassed, none have been beaten or tortured.

He is, however, disturbed by the disrespect and inappropriate

language the officials use.  In a written statement detailing a

recent incident, one security officer is quoted as threatening

two Jehovah's Witnesses telling them that if they talked to

local people about the Bible, he would "order his seven

subordinates to strip and rape them, and then he would come and

personally cut them in half."  Testimonies from other Christian

denominations also confirm that security officers are particular

belligerent towards local Tajiks who have converted to

Christianity and "betrayed" their Islamic faith.

6.  (SBU)  One of the excuses the local government frequently

uses to call in the Jehovah's Witnesses is because they

distribute religious literature and journals.  The law does not

prohibit proselytizing and distribution of religious materials

by religious groups.  Jehovah's Witnesses asked the government

to provide in writing the law the group is allegedly violating,

but the government has never done so.

7.  (C) The Jehovah's Witness problem is one among a series of

DUSHANBE 00000623  002 OF 002

other significant issues Christian groups have faced, including

the recent legal problems and harassment of Operation Mercy

(reftel A) and the ongoing case of the mayor's attempt to seize

the Grace Sun Min Church's property (reftel B).  Interlocutors

at all three organizations say that they have not heard any

complaints from local Tajik citizens and find Tajiks to respect

Christian organizations.  Government officials however explain

that local Tajiks frequently complain about Christian

missionaries.

8.  (C)  COMMENT:  In recent months, the government has closed

several mosques and continues to keep a close eye on certain

Islamic clergy because it fears extremism.  However, the State

Committee on National Security's attitude towards Christian

groups and recent harassment indicates a trend of suspicion and

anti-Christian sentiment within the government, particularly

towards Christian groups that proselytize, distribute religious

literature or have a high number of converts.  Groups such as

the Russian Orthodox Church or the Vatican's Representative here

in Dushanbe do not report conflict with the government.  All

three incidents also relate to conflict with the city government

or directly with the Dushanbe mayor himself, but it remains

unclear whether the directive for Christian harassment stems

from the mayor or a higher authority.  Tajikistan purports to be

a state that guarantees religious freedom; however, the

government's actions contradict its constitutional laws.   END

COMMENT.

JACOBSON 

Источник: ИА "Авеста"
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