The Prosecutor-General’s Office of Tajikistan has launched an investigation into recent events in Khorog, the capital of the Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO).

By President Emomali Rahmon’s order an investigative group has been set up from among officers of the law enforcement agencies and representatives of civil society to carry out impartial investigation and bring the perpetrators to justice, says the 86th edition of Qonun va Jomea (Law and Society) weekly, an official mouthpiece of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Tajikistan, which was published on December 9.  

The weekly, in particular, says that Gulbiddin Ziyobekov, the resident of GBAO’s Roshtqala district, was neutralized on November 25 during arrest by law enforcement officers.  

“To achieve their criminal goals, leaders and members of the criminal group used the incident as a pretext to gather people in front of the building of the GBAO regional administration,” the newspaper says.  

It notes that 12 law enforcement officers were attacked and sustained various injuries. 

At the same time, the weekly says nothing about the victims among the civilian population.

“In order to thoroughly, transparently and objectively investigate the incident and bring the perpetrators to justice, by President Emomali Rahmon’s order an investigative group has been set up.  Led by Prosecutor-General Yusuf Rahmon, the group consists of 20 law enforcement officers and six representatives of civil society,” Qonun va Jomea says.  

The weekly also notes that the law enforcement authorities have instituted criminal proceedings against persons involved in riots, illegal actions and commission of crimes and an investigation is under way.  

Recall, the incident took place on the morning of November 25.  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,” says 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 claim 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, the stomach, the 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 do not fulfill two important agreements reached between them and protesters: dismantling military checkpoints and restoring Internet.