Teacher Saidshoh Asrorov, whose wedding was arranged by President’s order, was forcibly called up for military service. According to his relatives, Asrorov was taken to army directly from the ruling party’s office.
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Saidshoh Asrorov, a former young teacher working in the Southern Tajikistan, married in 2017 with the support of President Emomali Rahmon and the local administration, who paid for his wedding ceremony.
Asrorov, 25, a resident of Kushoniyon district of Khatlon region, worked as a teacher and taught history and law at school #39 of this region.
To solve the problem of the employee scarcity, the Tajik government issued a decree on benefits for teachers. The decree stated that rural teachers were exempted from military service.
On August 16, 2017, President Emomali Rahmon met with Kushoniyon district’s residents. At the meeting, Saidshoh Asrorov expressed gratitude to Rahmon for creating favorable working conditions in the field of education on behalf of all the teachers of the district.
At the end of the meeting with the district’s activists, President asked Asrorov a few questions, and having heard that he was not married, instructed the responsible employees of the district administration to assist with the wedding ceremony. Local officials assisted with the wedding of Saidshoh and his bride Marjona on August 27, 2017 at the “Maftuna” restaurant in Bokhtar.
Marjona Asrorova: Very Upset, but What Can I Do?
Marjona Asrorova currently works in the rural medical center “Zargar” of Kushoniyon district. In conversation with CABAR.asia, she said that her husband, Saidshoh, combined the work of a teacher in a school and in the Committee of the People’s Democratic Party of Tajikistan. In April 2018, Saidshoh’s family was informed that he was caught up by the raid in the center of the Kushoniyon district.
“Sometimes he talked about serving in army. I do not know if he was telling the truth or if it was a joke. He was taken from the center of the district to the military recruitment office. When he was taken away, I was very upset and protested against this situation. However, what could I do? Now, only a few months are left until his service ends. Now I have calmed down”, says Asrorova.
Shirmoh Asrorova, Saidshoh’s mother, has seven children. She says that Saidshoh is the youngest. He was considered the most active teacher in the district, and therefore he was honored to address the President.
None of his relatives expected Saidshoh to marry so willingly, his mother constantly thought about finding him a bride and money for the wedding. They watched the speech of their son on TV, and they were pleased to hear the words of President Emomali Rahmon that he would help Saidshoh to arrange a wedding.
Shirmoh Asrorova said that her son was called up for military service despite the fact that he worked in a rural school.
“Local officials and schools employees said that Saidshoh, as a teacher, cannot be called up for military service. My son feels well today and serves the same way as the others”, said Shirmoh Asrorova.
Saidshoh Was Caught up by the Raid in the Ruling Party’s Office
After meeting with the President, Saidshoh was invited to work in the district committee of the ruling in Tajikistan People’s Democratic Party (PDPT).
Saidshoh’s brother, Saidahmad Asrorov, said in CABAR.asia interview that his relative worked there for about six months and did not stop teaching at school. During last few days, Saidshoh was coming from work depressed, and the whole family tried to find out the reason. However, Saidshoh did not tell anything.
Saidahmad Asrorov said that in April 2018, the raid caught up Saidshoh in his office of the district committee of the PDPT. He was held for a week at the military recruitment office of Kushoniyon district. Relatives, trying to prevent Saidshoh’s military service, applied with the necessary documents from the workplace, and insisted that as a teacher, he should not serve in the army.
According to Saidahmad, his brother, a university graduate with a degree in history and law, knew his rights.
“For the first time, he argued with the military officials that he was a teacher and should not be called up after the raid. He did not want to join the army, but eventually, was enlisted. We submitted the documents, but after review, we were told that they were incorrect and should be submitted again. We resubmitted the necessary documents, but this did not work”, said Saidshoh’s brother.
Riskiniso Mukhtojova, head of educational institution #39, said that Saidshoh was not employed full-time at the school. He had only 10 hours of classes.
“There is no employee scarcity in the school. Saidshoh Asrorov’s academic load was incomplete, so he was drafted into the army”, said Mukhtojova.
According to Ismоil Sharipov, lawyer of the Trade Union Committee of Education Workers in Khatlon, the 53rd article of the Law of the Republic of Tajikistan “On Education”, states the benefits for education workers during army recruitment. Part I of the Law states that teachers have the right to postpone the service.
According to the lawyer, in the case of teachers’ scarcity in state educational institutions, their military recruitment is illegal.
“It is worth noting that they can be recruited into the armed forces of the Republic of Tajikistan in case of underemployment, including 18 teaching hours, as well as when carrying out activities outside of their profession”, said Sharipov.
Marjona Asrorova, Saidshoh’s wife, said that local officials help them in solving various problems.
Dilafruz Shukrullozoda, deputy chairperson of the Kushoniyon district administration, in an interview to CABAR.asia said that helping Saidshoh in creating a family was due to the President’s suggestion. After the wedding, his wife Marjona was provided with a job at a local medical center. According to Dilafruz Shukrullozoda, she invited Saidshoh to speak to the President.
“Saidshoh Asrorov is a very competent and promising young man. He worked for the People’s Democratic Party, but I am not aware of his work as a teacher in a middle school. In general, I do not know why he serves in the army, but I think he does it voluntarily”, said Dilafruz Shukrullozoda.
District Military Recruitment Office: There Are No Complaints!
The military recruitment office of the Kushoniyon district claims that there were no recorded facts of forced recruitment into the army in the district. There were also no complaints from the parents about this.
It is not known whether Saidshoh decided to serve voluntarily or not, but his relatives say that he did not receive any notifications from the military office.
Although the military recruitment office denies the cases of forced recruitment of young people into the army, nevertheless, several facts of the raids, including on young school teachers, have become known to the general public.
According to media, in 2017, a teacher from the Vakhsh district of the Khatlon region was forcibly recruited into the army, and following this, two senior military officers were brought to administrative responsibility and removed from their posts. Officially, the district administration does not confirm these facts.
Abdurashid Yusufzoda, the head of the Khatlon regional military prosecutor’s office, did not speak in detail about young people’s recruitment in the army, but noted that several cases of illegal recruitment were recorded, and therefore, the penalties prescribed by law were applied to those responsible.
This article was prepared as part of the Giving Voice, Driving Change – from the Borderland to the Steppes Project implemented with the financial support of the Foreign Ministry of Norway. The opinions expressed in the article do not reflect the position of the editorial or donor.