Access to Internet has been restored in theGorno Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO), but not throughout the whole region. 

A reliable source in Khorog told Asia-Plus on Friday that access to Internet has been restored only in Darvoz, Vanj and Murgab districts, while today is already the fifteenth day that Internet is inaccessible in Khorog, the capital of GBAO, as well as in Shugnan, Rushan, Ishkashim and Roshtqala districts.  

In Darvoz, Vanj and Murgab districts, access to Internet was restored on the night of December 9-10.

The authorities have promised to restore access to Internet in the region by 1:00 pm of November 30, but have not restored it yet. 

On December 1, access to Internet was restored partially; currently, only banks and some government bodies now have access to Internet in Khorog.          

“In fact, we do not understand why access to Internet has not yet been restored.  Currently, the situation in the region is calm, people live normal lives,” the source said. 

As it had been reported earlier, two weeks after the authorities promised to restore the Internet and did not do it, residents of GBAO and international organizations applied to the authorities with solicitation to restore access to Internet in the region.   

Asia-Plus failed to get any comments on the Internet situation from the GBAO authorities and the country’s communications service agency.   

Protests in different parts of Tajikistan usually lead to internet restrictions. Recent incident in Khorog has left citizens unable to access online content.

Access to Internet was switched off in GBAO on November 25 after several thousand people occupied a central square in Khorog in a demand for justice and thorough investigation into the killing of a local young man by security officers.

Recall, the incident took place on the morning of November 25.  It is to be noted that sources from law enforcement agencies and statements of the witnesses and Ziyobekov’s relatives contradict each other.

The GBAO prosecutor’s office says an operation was carried out by law enforcement agencies in the village of Tavdem Roshtqala district to capture Gulbiddin Ziyobekov, who was wanted on charges of taking hostages and inciting ethnic hatred.   “During the operation, he put up armed resistance and began firing from a Makarov pistol, which he possessed illegally.  The offender was wounded by return fire,” said a statement released by the GBAO prosecutor’s office.  Gulbiddin Ziyobekov was reportedly shot in the head and died on the way from Roshtqala to Khorog.

The relatives of the deceased deny this.  Commenting to the Tajik media, they say Ziyobekov was killed on his way from Roshtqala district to Khorog, where his family reportedly found his body in the morgue with seven bullet wounds in the legs, stomach, heart and head.

According to one of the residents of the Roshtqala district, Ziyobekov and other young guys beat the prosecutor’s office officer Abirzoda in early 2020 for offering an intimate relationship to a local young woman, forcing him to issue an apology to camera.

The investigation was halted at the instigation of then-GBAO governor Yodgor Fayzov, who mediated a way out of the impasse.  Fayzov was removed from the post earlier this month.  His dismissal appears to have triggered a renewed effort to arrest Ziyobekov.

Several thousand people gathered in front of the GBAO regional administration building in Khorog on November 25 in a demand for justice.  The four-day rally ended in the afternoon of November 28 after several hours of negotiations between the government officials and representatives of the protesters.

Some sources in Khorog say the authorities have not fulfilled agreements reached between them and protesters.

Meanwhile, Tajik political scientist Parviz Mullojonov says, “It seems to me that the government has simply not yet developed a unified position on overcoming the crisis.  There are probably several groups lobbying for different approaches,” Mullojonov told Asia-Plus in an interview.  

”If the authorities want to stabilize the situation as soon as possible and calm people down, they must, first of all, return to life the primary attributes of stability: good communication, no armed people on the streets, open bazaars, shops, restaurants and so forth.  This does not mean losing control of the situation because there are police, there are mobile groups, and so on,” Mullojonov noted.

He says it is necessary to terminate the permanent checkpoints and revise the staff rotation so that the seconded employees make up not more than 20-30% of the total staff.       

The expert proposes to develop a program for the fastest development of the region, to eliminate the imbalance in its development, to create several operating free economic zones and the Regional Development Fund.

GBAO makes up about half of the territory of Tajikistan and has rich mineral and water resources.  At the same time, it is the poorest region, even by the standards of poor Tajikistan.  The prices here are much higher than in other regions of the country, and the incomes are much lower.