Tajikistan's Military Dogged by Bullying Problems

Tajikistan's Military Dogged by Bullying Problems

A Tajik conscript has been left with a broken neck and partial paralysis in an attack carried out by another soldier. Experts say the case highlight chronic bullying problems in the military and is likely to encourage future conscripts to evade the call-up.

The attack happened when Private Shahbol Mirzoev sought dental treatment from his border guards unit’s medical service. A medical orderly is accused of carrying out the assault following an altercation.

Tajikistan’s military prosecution has launched an investigation, but the border guards service, which does not come under the defence ministry, is downplaying the incident and the gravity of Mirzoev’s injuries, even though he has spent the last month immobile in hospital.

His future treatment has been costed at 65,000 euro, and his family do not have that kind of money. Nor, apparently, does the border guards service.

Some experts are warning that cases of this kind will deter many young men from answering the obligatory call-up, if they can get away with it.

“Cases like this occur in all military units. In recent years, military prosecutors have been bring cases in an effort to stamp out this kind of activity, but despite effort, assaults continue,”said Khurshed Rahimov, a lawyer from the non-government Office for Civil Liberties.

Rahimov’s solution is to cut the conscription period from two years to one, and impose harsher penalties for bullying in the armed forces. 

Qayumarsi Ato is an IWPR contributor in Tajikistan.

This audio programme went out in Russian and Tajik on national radio stations in Tajikistan. It was produced under two IWPR projects: Empowering Media and Civil Society Activists to Support Democratic Reforms in Tajikistan, funded by the European Union; and the Human Rights Reporting, Confidence Building and Conflict Information Programme, funded by the Foreign Ministry of Norway.The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of IWPR and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of either the European Union or the Norwegian foreign ministry. 

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