The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has condemned a decision by a Tajik court to declare the Pamir Daily News website “extremist” and ban its activities in the country. The New York-based international non-governmental organization issued a July 20 statement calling on Dushanbe to reverse its decision to ban Pamir Daily News and stop pressuring media outlets that report on the “Pamir minority.”
On July 19, the Tajik Prosecutor General’s Office announced on its website that the Internet publication Pamir Daily News had been declared extremist by the decision of the Supreme Court of Tajikistan and the activity of the publication was banned in the country. The Tajik edition of Azattyk – Radio Ozodi writes that the Supreme Court issued a decision on June 14. The reasons for recognizing the site as “extremist” are not reported.
The leadership of Pamir Daily News stated that the activities of the journalists of the publication “have long been an eyesore to the authorities of Tajikistan, since we are one of the last to speak about the ongoing lawlessness in the republic, in particular in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO)”.
“By declaring our publication illegal, the authorities of Tajikistan are trying to completely drown out the feedback from GBAO, where they continue to pursue an immoral, irresponsible policy aimed at ethnocide and squeezing the Pamiris outside their historical homeland,” the editorial office said in a statement.
Pamir Daily News will continue its work “with even greater motivation and dedication,” the editors note.
Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, said the Tajik authorities’ decision to ban Pamir Daily News and declare the online publication extremist was “unfortunately a predictable move.” According to her, the publication of materials about human rights violations in Tajikistan has long been considered a “crime” by the authorities.
Tajik authorities have not commented on CPJ’s statement.
The Pamir Daily News website became known especially during the events that took place in May-June last year in GBAO , when it was able to get and publish exclusive videos and information about what was happening in Khorog and the Rushan region.
In 2020, the Supreme Court of Tajikistan banned the Prague-based information resource Akhbor, ruling that its content served the interests of “terrorists and extremists.” Tajik authorities have accused Akhbor of promoting banned groups such as the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), which was the largest opposition party in the country until the government declared it a terrorist organization in 2015.
- International journalistic and human rights organizations regularly criticize Tajikistan for restricting freedom of speech and pressure on independent journalists and bloggers. Over the past year, eight journalists and bloggers in Tajikistan have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from seven to 21 years on charges of collaborating with extremist organizations.
- Dushanbe rejects criticism from international organizations and says the country’s laws guarantee the free operation of the media.