Quick on the heels of independent newspaper Nigoh, another media outlet has closed it doors in Tajikistan. TojNews news agency announced its demise on its own website on November 14 and predicted that it would soon be curtains for other outlets.
Both Nigoh and TojNews were run by Dushanbe-based think tank Indem.
“After we announced on November 2 that we were closing Nigoh, we expected the news agency would follow. It will soon also be the turn of some other private publications. This reason is clear: the conditions in Tajikistan no longer exist for independent media and free journalism. We do not believe this situation will be permanent,” Indem said in a statement.
Nigoh declared it was suspending operations earlier this month on the eve of the publication’s 10th anniversary, citing an unspecified “lack of appropriate conditions.” While doing so, the newspaper made it clear that its finances were in good order, thereby heavily suggesting a political subtext to its demise.
Soon after Nigoh’s closure, the National Association of Independent Mass Media of Tajikistan, or NANSMIT, released a statement conveying its concern and describing the news as a further blow to the country’s media landscape.
“For 10 years operating as a national publication, Nigoh has sough to serve as an alternative news source. But the newspaper’s editorial policy, whose independence was guaranteed under the law, did not suit certain officials and state bodies. We have documented attempts to intimidate the publication’s reporters, harassment of their operations and interference in Nigoh’s editorial output,” NANSMIT said in its statement.
The government appears beyond caring at this stage, but there is mounting worry among independent Tajik observers that this wave of repression against media is further souring Tajikistan’s international image.
“We urge the government of Tajikistan not to limit the operations of independent media that serve a guarantor and conduit of access to alternative sources of information,” NANSMIT said.
They need not worry since the shuttering of Nigoh, far from sparking any kind of outrage, has been greeted by an international chorus of silence.