Two female teachers from the Roshtqala district of the Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO) have told Asia-Plus that the law enforcement authorities forced them to appear on local television and condemn participants of the Khorog protest rally; otherwise, they threatened to file administrative cases against the women.  After appearing on TV, these women had problems in their families and with their fellow villagers

Teachers from School No 6 in Shikoush village Nargis Jonmirzoyeva and Aziza Qarachabekova have got in touch with Asia-Plus reporter by phone.  

According to them, they were summoned to the Interior Ministry’s Office in GBAO last Saturday and forced them to appear on local television and condemned participants of the Khorog protest rally.

“Police officers Maisara Azizbekova and a certain Shoimardonov began to put pressure on us and force us to read their text in front of the cameras.  In this text, the protesters and some other persons are called criminals.  When we refused to read the text, they said that they will file administrative cases against us and then our salaries will be cut…  The pressure was very strong.   We were forced to agree, if only to get out of there as soon as possible,” the women said.  

“Although we read only the part of the text that dealt with the responsibility of parents for the upbringing of children, our relatives and fellow villagers condemn us for this,” they added.  

According to them, the reason is that local television, TV Badakhshon, no longer enjoys the trust of the population, “because through it the denigration of the population passes.”     

“I don't trust this television too.  Even earlier, when Maisara Azizbekova came to our village, we asked her to stop calling everyone criminals.  Tutisho Amirshoyev, who was killed by law enforcement officers during the protest rally in Khorog, was our student.  He was a very good guy.  He served in the army, studied in Khujand and then entered the Khorog University. He was not a criminal, as they call him,” says Nargis Qarachabekova.  

According to the women, now their statement is televised several times a day.  They have contacted all relevant authorities, including TV Badakhshon, the Interior Ministry’s Office in GBAO, the State Committee for National Security (SCNS)’s Office in GBAO, and local authorities, asking them to stop broadcasting their statement, but so far no one has responded.  Therefore, they have decided to apply to independent media outlets.  

“We want to convey to the people that this was not our personal initiative,” the women say.

We tried to get comments in the Interior Ministry’s Office in Badakhshan, but its chief Rustam Mirzomurodzoda, when found out on what issue the Asia-Plus reporter is calling, hung up and didn't answer any further calls. 

After the November events (a four-day protest rally) in Khorog, the documentary “Nerui Qonun” (The Force of Law) has been repeatedly demonstrated on the state-run broadcaster in the GBAO, TV Badakhshon.  The documentary described a resident of Tavdem village in Roshtqala district Gulbiddin Ziyobekov, who was killed by law enforcement officers on November 25, as a criminal and noted that the protest rally in Khorog was allegedly organized by criminal groups. 

After this documentary, programs with participation of local residents began to be broadcast on TV Badakhshon, in which the residents condemned the rally.  

Over the past week, the state-run broadcaster has been running reports about what it describes as the region’s criminal gangs.

On December 29, GBAO civil society activists requested 30 minutes of airtime on regional TV station for their statement.

“In view of the current situation in GBAO, the lack of access to Internet in the region and the emergence of all kinds of rumors in society, we, representatives of civil society, consider it important to speak on TV and give our opinion on the current situation, and call on residents not to believe any rumors and lead a normal life,” Khujamri Pirmamadov, a spokesman for Group 44, told Asia-Plus in an interview by phone on December 30.  

This request of Group 44 went unanswered.