When it finally was the moment to leave, the young Tajik journalist Humayro Bakhtyiar had to use all her wits to deceive the country’s intelligence service. Unsuspected friends would take most of her luggage for a “leisure trip” to a neighboring country. Having been granted a few days off from work for attending a professional training seminar abroad, Humayro herself convinced the border police that she was entitled to leave Tajikistan for a couple of days: “Until the very last moment I wasn’t sure I would be able to depart.”
Such are the daily dangers of ordinary citizens critical of the ruling regime of the central Asian Republic Tajikistan. “Just for posting a different opinion on social media you may end up in jail for up to nine years.”
Tajikistan has been ruled by president Emomalij Rahmon for the last 30 years. During this time the central Asian state has become one of the world’s poorest countries. While the president and his family have shamelessly amassed enormous riches, important social sectors like education and health services are chronically underfunded. Free media exist only by name.
Three decades with Rahmon at the helm have taken all hope for a change in the nearer future. Only in early January the people of neighboring Kazakhstan took to the streets of Almaty and other cities to vent their frustration over rising prices and diminishing salaries. After a couple of days of protests the regime admitted to 164 protesters killed and tens of thousands being arrested: “It was a strong warning signal by the Russian government that Moscow will not tolerate any political reforms.”
Since Humayro Bakhtyiar was invited as a guest of the Hamburg Foundation for politically persecuted People in 2016, she has been granted political asylum in Germany. As an active member of the wide spread Tajik diaspora she wants to educate the German public about the living conditions in the central Asian republic and at the same time provide the Tajiks back home with honest and well researched information. “I strongly believe that working as an independent journalist