On Saturday morning, according to the Tajik Ministry of Internal Affairs, a group of assailants with knives attacked four men from the military commission in Dushanbe’s Sino District — Temurkhon Egemberdiyev, Pulod Mirzoyev, Khamza Nasibov, and a driver, Rustam Sadulloyev. Two — Mirzoyev and Nasibov — died and the other two were seriously injured.
Asia-Plus reported that the attack came “following a conflict,” but did not elaborate. The ministry also did not immediately note a motive for the attack.
Monday, Asia-Plus and RFE/RL both reported that the Ministry of Defense had ruled out a connection between the attack and the ongoing conscription drive. Defense Ministry spokesman Faridun Mahmadaliev said, “There is no connection with the November 7 attack on military recruitment officers and the ongoing autumn conscription campaign as Dushanbe fulfilled its autumn conscription target on November 3.”
All five Central Asian states maintain some kind of conscription system. Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan have mandatory service requirements of one year while Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan mandate two years of service. In 2013, Kazakhstan said it would shift to a fully professional, 99 percent volunteer service by 2016.
While many of the region’s militaries receive training from a variety of partners — including the U.S. and Russia — their services are still plagued by corruption and lack professionalism. Hazing remains a serious, and deadly, problem and has been particularly acute in Tajikistan. In summer 2014, a Tajik military court sentenced a sergeant to nine years in prison for beating a conscript to death. The same summer, in a different military court, a medic was sentenced to nine years for delaying treatment to a conscript who was paralyzed after being beaten in a practice called dedovshchina, a ritualized hazing practice that originated in the Soviet military. Second year conscripts haze new recruits unlucky enough to not manage to avoid service through illness, deferment, or simply leaving the country for work.
Eurasianet’s report on the recent incident dives deeper into Tajikistan’s conscription and hazing history and notes that while young Tajik men may have legitimate reasons to try and avoid service, “Notwithstanding all that, recruiters have quotas that they have to fill.” Twice a year, for two months in the fall and two in the spring, Tajikistan engages in conscription drives. Tajik authorities and media outlets report throughout the conscription period on which districts and cities have met their quotas.