Tajik Opposition Proposes New Constitution
By Peace Watch
This Article Summary written by: Quinn Doody, Conflict Research Consortium
Citation: "Tajik Opposition Proposes New Constitution," PeaceWatch 1:3, 8-9. 1995.
This article discusses the peace talks in Tajikstan, addressing the issue of a new constitution for the country. It gives a brief overview of the civil war in Tajikstan. Finally, it discusses peace proposals there.
During glasnost in the early 1990s, Tajikstan's Islamic Movement expressed a desire to bring back the country's heritage and spirituality by building an Islamic state. This proposal was opposed by the communists who saw it as reactionary fundamentalism. They prevented all non-communist parties from voting in the March 1990 elections. Communist Rahmon Nabiev became president in 1991, and proved to be an authoritative leader. Opposition leaders protested and the situation escalated to war in the summer of 1992, when fighting erupted between Nabiev supporters and those who advocated forming a coalition government composed of democrats and many small religious groups. Tens of thousands of people were killed, and hundreds of thousands fled into neighboring countries.
In 1994, another communist, Rakhmanov was elected president by the parliament. Rakhmanov banned all opposition parties, issuing arrest warrants and death sentences for all opposition leaders. Islamic Leader Akbar Turajonzoda estimated that as of 1995, the war resulted in 200,000 dead and 900,000 refugees. " 'Forty-nine of my close relatives were killed, and they didn't die on the battlefield,' he said, implying that they were executed on orders of the government. 'Twenty-nine of them were 65 and older, four were 82-84 years old, and my 13 year old son lost an eye in the bombing. I mention this to give you an idea how difficult it was for us to decide to begin a political dialogue [with the government]." (p. 8)
Despite these acts, three rounds of peace talks between the opposition leaders and the Tajik government ensued, though the opposition refused to recognize Rakhmanov's presidency. As of the date of this article, a fourth round had yet to commence. The Islamic Movement announced their intention not to seize power, but "to participate in shaping the future of their nation" (9). They proposed a constitution that included the right to form religious political parties, in addition to other fundamental human rights. Their main concern was to end the war and bring peace and democracy to Tajikstan through negotiation and compromise. "In all civil wars," argued Islamic leader Muhammadsharif Himmatzoda, "when guns are all that people know, peace and prosperity are never reached." (p. 9.)