Tajikistan’s Fallen Hero: Zoir Rajabov


You are not Forgotten.

Berlin, Brussels (22/5 – 40)

The Ismaili Pamiris of Tajikistan are a tiny minority group in Central Asia, whose ancient homeland lies in the remote and forbidding mountains that straddle the borders of Afghanistan, China, and Russia. Despite their small numbers, they have long been targeted for persecution by the authoritarian government of Tajikistan. In recent years, this has escalated into a full-blown campaign of ethnic cleansing, with President Imomali Rahmon seeking to eradicate this community and replace them with ethnic Tajiks. The Pamiris reside in the Gorno-Badakhshan region (GBAO), which became a warzone in May 2022. Government security forces had swept through Vamar, indiscriminately killing, torturing, and jailing Pamiris whom they accused of committing “terrorist acts” when their real crime was organizing non-violent protests against government repression. 

Zoir Rajabov was assassinated by Tajik security forces in his home, along with Khurzand Mazarov, another influential Pamiri leader. Rajabov was a key informal leader in the UPD neighbourhood of Khorog.  Informal Pamiri leaders coordinated community activities, such as distributing aid to the poor, sharing community funds to pay for marriages and burials, and resolving conflicts.

Rajabov was close to Imomnazar Imomnazarov (Imom), an esteemed informal leader in GBAO from the Terchid neighbourhood in the regional capital Khorog. Imomnazar was killed in an explosion in his home in August 2012, likely the victim of a government assassination.