Int’l community concerned over blockage of internet sites in Tajikistan

DUSHANBE (TCA) — Western diplomats in Tajikistan have expressed concern over the “periodic blockage” of news and social-media websites in the country.

In a joint statement issued on December 10, the embassies of the United Kingdom, Germany, France, the United States, and the EU Delegation in the Republic of Tajikistan urged the Tajik government to “provide for press freedom in accordance with Tajikistan’s international obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

The embassies expressed their common concern over the periodic blockage of news sites, including Asia-Plus and Radio Ozodi, as well as social media sites.

“We believe that the right of individuals to express their views freely is universal, whether exercised in a public square or on the internet,” the statement said.

It said the Central Asian country’s “long-term prosperity, security, and stability require the government’s full commitment to protecting freedom of speech, mass media freedom, and the right of journalists to work without fear of censorship or reprisal.”

“Access to fast and affordable Internet is essential for any country’s economic development,” the diplomatic missions added.

The statement cited the blockage of the websites of Asia-Plus and RFE/RL’s Tajik Service, known locally as Radio Ozodi, which have been blocked in Tajikistan since November 29.

Tajik officials have not commented on the situation, RFE/RL’s Tajik Service reported.

Tajik authorities have blocked some online news sites and social networks in the past, but later unblocked them without providing any explanations.

Sergey Kwan

TCA

Sergey Kwan has worked for The Times of Central Asia as a journalist, translator and editor since its foundation in March 1999. Prior to this, from 1996-1997, he worked as a translator at The Kyrgyzstan Chronicle, and from 1997-1999, as a translator at The Central Asian Post.
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Kwan studied at the Bishkek Polytechnic Institute from 1990-1994, before completing his training in print journalism in Denmark.

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