The autumn conscription campaign that is carried out in Tajikistan from October 1 through November ended on November 30.  Eurasianet says that the conscripts, generally Tajikistan’s poorest young men, are brutalized into service.

Tajikistan reportedly releases little information about its military, but the violent way it recruits does not give the impression this republic has a battle-ready army.  In 30 years of independence, Tajikistan has never stood up a professional fighting force; instead, it largely relies on poorly fed conscripts, Eurasianet noted.  

Spring and autumn in Tajikistan are draft seasons, when young men hide or flee the country to avoid being press-ganged into service.

“In Tajikistan, oblava – which loosely translates as “round-up” – is the practice when men in civilian clothes roam cities and kidnap young men of draft age.  They force the young men into a car and take them to a military unit for conscription,” Eurasianet said.

Every year during the call-up, videos appear on social networks showing people in civilian clothes pushing young men into cars.  Passersby are so accustomed to the phenomenon that most know what’s going on without even getting a close look.

Ms. Dilrabo Samadova, the head of the Dushanbe-based NGO Office of Civil Liberties, told Eurasianet that these raids are illegal, but enlistment officers resort to the practice to fulfill government draft quotas: 8,000 conscripts in spring and 8,000 conscripts in fall. (The government does not publish figures on the total size of the military).

Because the conscripts often serve far from home, are not allowed visitors, and do not have access to a telephone, little news about military hazing emerges until someone dies or is seriously injured, Ms. Samadova added.   

“We need to switch to a professional army. I do not understand how recruits who are forcibly conscripted, then beaten up to force them to fulfill their obligations, can be useful,” Samadova said.

Shokirjon Hakimov, a lawyer and deputy chairman of the Social-Democratic Party of Tajikistan (SDPT), believes the hazing and poor treatment not only discourages young men from serving, but weakens the country’s defenses.

“All this affects our combat effectiveness and combat readiness, as a result of which the country may not provide adequate resistance to external threats and dangers,” Hakimov told Eurasianet in an interview.   

The two-month-long effort seeking to enlist young men aged 18-27 for the one- or two-year compulsory military service takes place twice a year in Tajikistan -- in the spring and in the autumn.

Young Tajiks can avoid or postpone military service if they are ill, studying at university, an only son, or if they have two children.

The wealthy and well-connected reportedly bribe their way out of service, Eurasianet says.

Meanwhile, amendments have been made to the country’s law on military service this year.  The amendments came into effect on February 4 and young men in Tajikistan who wish to forgo the military service may now do so by paying a fee to the government.  A one-month basic reserve service will be organized for those who did not perform conscript service for a fee.  At the end of basic reserve service they will receive military cards.

The Defense Ministry has said the fees will be spent on bettering living conditions for the recruits.  

Besides, under the law on the universal military duty in new edition, graduates of universities having military department will also be drafted into the army for one year.

Only people who have done military service will be permitted to obtain employment with the government or join the army in a professional capacity.