Three journalists forced into military service

New York, November 8, 2002
—Three journalists in Tajikistan have been conscripted into military service in retaliation for producing a talk show that criticized local military officials, according to local and international reports.

The program, which aired on October 24 and 27, was produced by journalists from the local, independent television stations SM-1 and TRK-Asia in the northern city of Khujand and reported that the military uses gangs to forcibly recruit young men into military service. During the show, senior military officer Faziliddin Domonov denied the use of such aggressive tactics, the New York­based Eurasianet Web site reported.

The program reportedly enraged Domonov, who called the station on October 25 and threatened to conscript the journalists.

On October 28, four military officials burst into the SM-1 and TRK-Asia offices and arrested nine journalists who had produced and participated in the talk show. While the journalists were in detention, officials told them “you don’t know who you’re dealing with,” and “we’ll show you how to present us on television,” the Moscow-based press freedom group Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations reported.

Six journalists were eventually released, but three were conscripted and remain in military custody: Yusuf Yunusov, a 21-year-old with TRK-Asia, and Akram Azizov, 21, and Nasim Rahimov, 20, both of SM-1.

In addition, on the evening of November 5, a military officer called SM-1 director Mahmaoudjan Dadabaev and threatened to kill him and close his station, the Tajikistan office of the U.S. media training organization Internews reported.