Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Documenting Tajikistan's Civil War

By Shahodat Saibnazarova






Although Tajikistan’s 1992-97 civil war is still a divisive and sensitive issue, a leading Tajik academic plans to collect testimony from all sides as a legacy for the future.

Professor Ibrahim Usmonov has set up an institution called the Foundation for Dialogue Between Civilisations to carry out the painstaking work, which should result in a comprehensive archive and help establish a truthful narrative of the past.

The conflict pitted the government of President Imomali Rahmon against the insurgent United Tajik Opposition, and led to tens of thousands dead and many more displaced. The confrontation can be interpreted in different ways – Islamists versus post-communist rulers; rivalries between regional elites; and brutal intercommunal strife.

In an interview for IWPR, Usmonov recalled taking part in the talks process that eventually led to the 1997 peace settlement. Participants in the negotiations naturally held strongly diverging opinions, he said. But 15 years on, “It is time to take a different, neutral look at what happened. There’s now no need to make accusations, or to see one person as an enemy and another as a friend.”

Many of the protagonists and peacemakers are now dead, so Usmonov senses it is time to compile a record from first-hand testimonies while it is still possible.

“We want to preserve the truth for the future…not to accuse people or make them into heroes, but to prevent it ever happening again,” he said.

Shahodat Saibnazarova is IWPR Radio Editor in Tajikistan. 

The audio programme, in Russian, went out on national radio stations in Tajikistan, as part of IWPR project work funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

If you would like to comment or ask a question about this story, please contact our Central Asia editorial team at

More IWPR's Global Voices