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Tajikistan: Army Recruiters Killed at Height of Conscription Season

Two officers with the military mobilization office in Tajikistan were killed over the weekend in a yet unexplained incident in the capital, police said in a statement on November 9.

The Interior Ministry said that around 7:20 a.m. on November 7, unknown people attacked a group of four officers with knives in the Sino district and then fled the scene. Major Pulod Mirzoyev died on the spot, while warrant officer Hamza Nasibov succumbed to his injuries in the hospital several hours later.

Police are now trying to confirm the identity of the attackers and are appealing to the public for help and offering a $10,000 reward for any information leading to arrest.

The details of the case are still hazy, but there will already be strong suspicions the cause of the incident may have been to do with the work the military officers were performing. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has cited Defense Ministry spokesman Faridun Mahmadaliev as denying the link.

Tajikistan is currently going through its bi-annual two month-long military enlistment season. Male adults aged 18 to 27 are eligible for call-up, which boosts the ranks of the military by up to 16,000 draftees every year, according to Defense Ministry figures. The autumn call-up season opens on October 1 and ends on November 30.

Radio Free Europe’s Tajik service, Radio Ozodi, reported earlier this year that some 600,000 Tajik men fall within the 18-27 age group, but that many are exempt for reasons of ill-health or because they are the only sons in the famliy. The conscription drive is further complicated by the large number of eligible and able-bodied men living abroad for work.

Many are eager to evade military service over fears of vicious hazing, which has claimed many lives in the past, and the appalling conditions in which conscripts are forced to live.

Notwithstanding all that, recruiters have quotas that they have to fill.

Avesta reported on November 4, citing the Defense Ministry spokesman Mahmadliev, that 33 cities and districts in Tajikistan have reported back on reaching their quota.

Success levels are lowest in and around the capital, Dushanbe. Mahmadliev said the northern Sughd provided had reached 88 percent of its quota, Gorno-Badakhshan — 95 percent, Khatlon province  — 99 percent.

Meanwhile, the Districts of Republican Subordination, which surround Dushanbe, reported a figure of 73 percent, and Dushanbe was somewhat higher on 86 percent.

Conscription season regularly generates reports of recruiters pulling devious tricks to ensure they abide by their quotas.

Internet portal Rossiya Dlya Vsekh, a Russia-based news website on Tajik-related affairs, reported in September that press-ganging of young men began in the Sughd province many days before October 1.

The website said that recruitment officers were also violating requirements for the summons to be handed directly to the prospective conscript, and reported that relatives were being given the slips instead.

The report quotes one unnamed source as saying that recruiters are not above using force to hand over their summons.

“There was a knock at the door. I opened and there were two men. They offered greetings and explained the purpose of their visit, while trying to brazenly get into the house while holding some piece of paper in their hand. Of course, I stopped them, demanding to know by what right they were barging in. They backed down and then slipped this paper, the summons, into my hand. When they were informed that my son studies in Russia, they demanded a note from his college by September 27 or there would be trouble,” the source told Rossiya Dlya Vsekh.

Perhaps not surprising that the figures are always so high then, despite all the challenges. Radio Ozodi last year cited Defense Ministry spokesman Bahtiyor Bozorov as saying recruiters had overachieved in the autumn conscription season, enrolling 100.71 percent of the required drafts.

Morever, authorities pointed out that all recruits signed up of their own free will.

Tajikistan: Army Recruiters Killed at Height of Conscription Season

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