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Tajikistan: suffering ignored

28-08-1996 News Release 96/34

The ICRC is deeply concerned by the plight of civilians cut off in Tavildara, a town which the opposition regained control of on 16 August. The cease-fire agreement concluded between the Tajik government and the opposition on 21 July in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan has once again proved a dead letter. According to people who have managed to flee in the past few days, most of those remaining in the town are elderly, sick or disabled and have been left without food or medicines; it is impossible for them to undertake the three-day trek across the mountains necessary to escape.

The ICRC has been trying in vain for six months to gain access to this region of the Pamirs which separates the semi-autonomous province of Gorno-Badakhshan from the rest of the country, and a large part of which (the Mionadu and Tavildara valleys) has gradually come under the control of the opposition forces since the beginning of the year.

The release by both sides of captured combatants and other detainees was provided for in the July agreement, and a target date was fixed for 20 August. Not only have these releases not taken place, the ICRC has not yet even received any lists of the individuals to be set free.

It must therefore be recognized that the latest series of negotiations has had no tangible effect: the cease-fire is not being respected, access has not been granted to the people directly affected by the fighting and promises to release prisoners have not been kept.