It has been two weeks since the autumn call-up of young men to the army has been going on in Tajikistan. The Ministry of Defense reported that more than 55 percent of the plan has been implemented. Officials describe the increase in the number of people who want to serve in the army, but complaints from the regions are not rare. In particular, some residents say that they cut off electricity in a village to prevent sending young men to the army. Radio Ozodi addressed to Dilrabo Samadova, head of the “Civil Liberties Office” organization, to get answers to users’ questions about conscription. Ms. Samadova has been protecting the rights of soldiers and conscripts for more than 15 years. First, we asked Dilrabo Samadova how the situation is this year.
Dilrabo Samadova: Some regions have reported that they have fully implemented the plan for the fall recruitment. But in big cities, young people are being hunted by soldiers, and their parents are under pressure and extortion. Those who are students or who have the right to defer military service are being invited to military commissariats.
Radio Ozodi: If you have looked at the reports of Radio Ozodi or social networks, the ways of recruiting young people to the army through their parents has changed. It is known that a group of young people are abroad for work and education. In some areas, in order to send them back and send them to work, the parents of young men draw lots in the presence of representatives of the authorities or are forced to be active in this work in other ways. How do you explain this legally?
Dilrabo Samadova: I have been working in this area for more than 15 years. New methods of activities, which are not provided for in the legislation or are against the legislation, are implemented in practice. Several conscripts from different regions contacted us and said that they intended to start a family, and the restaurants asked the married couples to submit a certificate from the military commissariat stating that they do not mind the wedding. Actually, this work does not come under the authority of the military commissariat, but they force young people to join the military service in illegal ways.
Or, when crossing the border, young people of conscription age do not stay. Even though it’s not draft season, it’s completely illegal. All these methods that are applied become a basis for taking bribes and extorting money from the invitee. Pressure on the recruiter, parents, financial support, illegal punishments, rules limiting the rights of the recruiter, which are not provided for in the legislation.
In the records I saw, the draw was organized by representatives of the authorities. If the invitee is a student, he has the right to education. Regardless of whether or not the draft plan has been implemented or whether his parents have given their consent, he has the right to complete his education and then go to military service. I advise the citizens that if they encounter such situations, they must file a complaint with the relevant authorities.
In addition to the lottery, there is also the illegal arrest and detention of parents in military commissariat centers. They call from the regions and say that they took their parents to the commissariats and forced them to call the conscript and ask him to return, and they made a condition that they will keep his family members in the military commissariat until he does not return.
Radio Ozodi: Have you complained to the authorities about such situations?
Dilrabo Samadova: There are many appeals and we are complaining to the authorities. Citizens with legal education are not afraid to complain. For example, in such cases, a resident of one of the districts of Sughd region applied, and the invitee himself was in Russia. They came to her home several times and put pressure on her mother and threatened to turn off the electricity. The applicant’s mother was engaged in business and they threatened to take action against her work activities. Later, her mother was forcibly taken to the military commissariat, and we appealed to the military prosecutor’s office about the actions of the military commissariat employees.
Radio Ozodi: The mobility of young students has also increased compared to previous years. Officials say they will leave voluntarily and then continue their studies. There are appeals about this issue, and to what extent, according to the law, are students obliged to go to military service in exchange for education?
Dilrabo Samadova: It is worrying that military service is placed above the right to education and study. Today, universities have become a method of recruiting soldiers. When the draft plan is not implemented or the term of the draft is coming to an end, military commissariats or unknown persons in civilian clothes help them, go to universities and colleges and start recruiting.
We had several videos of students running away from the university while taking their final exams. Students report on social networks about the course of the exams that “in addition to teachers and the state commission, people in paramilitary uniforms take part in the exams. When we pass the exam, they take us to a separate room, wait for others to leave, and sign inside the university. they take us. They force us into buses and take us to military service.”
The university is not a place for military service. The mission of the university is to impart knowledge. In addition, the head of the university should provide the invitations to the students or submit the list of students to the military commissariat. Pressure, interference in the course of examinations by representatives of military commissariats is illegal. Military prosecutors should control this. The days of the exams have arrived and they have to defend the right to education, which is also a constitutional right.
Radio Ozodi: According to the new legislation, young people have the right to receive a military card after serving in the army for just one month. At the beginning, the price set for a month’s service was 28 thousand somoni, and now it is 51 thousand somoni. However, every city and region has a “limit”. How do you explain this?
Dilrabo Samadova: This type of service raises many questions. The first is the amount itself and how to calculate it. It is not known on what basis this amount was determined. For example, there are families whose eldest child works and provides for the whole family. They agree to work for one month in exchange for money and then lead their lives. But now this amount has grown so much that even families agree to provide this type of service by taking loans from banks in exchange for interest. In addition, this type of service is introducing corruption, because over the set amount, young people are forced to pay extra money to intermediaries, officials of the authorities, to be included in this list in order to cover them.
Radio Ozodi: Mistreatment in military units is said to be one of the main reasons why young people refuse military service. How many appeals are made to the Office of Civil Liberties annually?
Dilrabo Samadova: It is correct to say that one of the main reasons for refusing military service and the main reason for young people to refuse military service is “grandfatherism”. When we conducted a survey, the soldiers said that for the first six months, every day we hear a shout, insult or obscenity, or of course we face a light beating. Only when the health has already been severely damaged, or when the soldier cannot bear it, then the leadership of the military commissariat, society and relevant authorities are informed.
We receive at least a thousand applications a year. Victims complain to us by phone, online and at the office. Citizens mainly refer to these two ways that we fight, “oblava” and “dedovshina”. We attach special importance to these two methods. This happens a lot during the challenge. That is, violations of the law will increase. Violation of laws and regulations is a crime committed by public authorities. When “oblava” happens, it is a crime. When parents are taken to the military commissariat, this is a crime. Applications have increased year by year. But I can’t say that informal relationships have increased. I think that the trust of the society, the trust of citizens towards judicial authorities, judicial justice, military prosecutor’s office, the authority on human rights is increasing, appeals to us have increased. Because they used to come and ask for advice and even though the condition of the soldier is serious, they were afraid to complain. Now they are aware of their rights. Due to the increasing number of applications, we are increasing our number of lawyers every year.
Radio Ozodi: Last October, in a report to the United Nations, the Tajik government said that from 2019 to 2021, more than 100 soldiers died due to “non-compliance with the military regulations”. According to your information, how has the situation been in recent years?
Dilrabo Samadova: The statistics of the deaths of soldiers will be in the military court. Until 2016, all the statistics were available and distributed in the media, but in recent years, under the pretext that this is a state secret, these statistics are not given to our organization.
Radio Ozodi: As far as we know, your organization provides treatment to people who have contracted diseases while serving in the army or related to it. How much are they?
Dilrabo Samadova: Now the UN is helping us in this direction. Every year, 35 soldiers who are victims of military torture are allocated funds for their treatment, and if they have died and their parents are not in good mental health, we help them.
Radio Ozodi: Is this an annual statistic or does it increase more or less?
Dilrabo Samadova: There are a lot of requests, but we have the opportunity to support only 30-35 people. Because if the soldier is really from a poor family and needs a lot of money for his treatment, we will support him. For example, conscript Imomaddin, whose kidneys were failing and his operation was very expensive in Tajikistan, was operated with the support of the state authorities and the Ministry of Health of the country. We collected money and helped, which was sent to the Republic of Iran several times for treatment.
Radio Ozodi: Last year, Radio Ozodi reported several cases of sick young men being drafted into military service. Do you have similar complaints?
Dilrabo Samadova: There are many such complaints. Due to the pressure of the military commissariat employees, who have to implement the draft plan, they were forced to make a decision on their fitness for military service. In most of our cases, we prosecuted not only the military personnel who exerted pressure, but also the doctors who made an illegal decision under this pressure.
We advise parents to be sure to copy and keep all medical records. Because often these documents are submitted to the military commissariat and those documents are lost. Since there is no copy, most of the time such documents cannot be restored. Hospitals do not keep a copy of it.
These cases are not only a violation of the law, but are considered a threat to the lives of young men. For example, when a soldier from Devashtich district was taken to Murgob with diseased kidneys, he died in October when he caught a cold and his lungs failed. That’s why parents and soldiers should pay attention to this.
Radio Ozodi: Civil society activists, parents and citizens always voice suggestions on changing the system of youth service to the army on social networks. Is there any progress in this direction or can we wait?
Dilrabo Samadova: In general, there are very few legal reforms in the structure of the military sphere. We still operate under the laws of the Soviet era. For example, access to a lawyer, a phone call during the arrest of a serviceman is not organized. On the contrary, some of the constitutional rights are prohibited. For example, using a mobile phone during military service. This restriction is a fear that the soldiers will not be able to contact the military prosecutor, they will only call on weekends and it will not be able to call unsupervised. The soldier is kept away from his place of residence. Now, after three months of training, the soldier can be placed in places close to his home. These actions must disappear.
Radio Ozodi: Employees and users of Radio Ozodi find you more often through us with their military problems. Do you have ways to communicate with citizens? Advertise here to make it easier to find your way in the future.
Dilrabo Samadova: We have a public reception in the cities of Khujand and Dushanbe, where citizens can apply. Our telephone numbers 93 333 17 03 and 93 333 18 03 are always active and we can accept the appeal of residents. Also, the page of the Office of Civil Liberties has been opened on social networks, where they can write to us.
Source : Радио Озоди