The Tajik experts believe that official permission to defer from military service for a fee will only increase corruption and aggravate the lives of conscripts from poor families.
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A new Law of Tajikistan “On Compulsory Military Responsibilities and Military Service” adopted at the end of January, officially allowed citizens of conscription age to defer from military service for a fee.
The amount of fee for the exemption from military service must be determined by the Government. It is unknown when it will happen.
During the presentation of the new Law in Parliament, the Minister of Defense Sherali Mirzo said, “Every year, up to 10% of young people are conscripted into the Armed Forces, and the remaining 90% do not serve”.
The Law allows draft evaders to defer from the two-year service officially, but at the same time, they still have to attend the monthly reserve training. The Ministry of Defense believes this measure will increase the number of reservists.
The former deputy commander of the Border Service of Tajikistan, General Nuralisho Nazarov believes that one month for training is not enough for a conscript to master the nuances of military service.
“A soldier will not learn anything in a month, not even how to march. The army must be combat-ready. A young man who served a month and received a military identity card cannot be considered a reservist,” Nazarov told CABAR.asia.
However, retired Colonel of the Ministry of Defense Mahdi Sobir, who previously worked in military training centres, told the analytical platform CABAR.asia that a period of 30-45 days is enough for military training of a conscript. According to him, there are professional training centres in the country with highly qualified specialists.
Jovid Pirzoda, a lawyer at the Ministry of Defense of Tajikistan, told CABAR.asia that the amount received from the conscripts would be transferred to a special account of the Amonatbonk state bank. According to him, the money will be allocated for further improvement of conditions for soldiers undergoing a monthly training and those who serve in the army on a regular basis.
Law for the Budget Replenishment
Dilrabo Samadova, the head of the Office of Civil Freedoms public organisation, believes that the Law is adopted only to replenish the budget. In her opinion, now, only young people from the poor families will be recruited into the army, which is a type of discrimination.
“It means that the defense of our Homeland is entrusted to young people from poor families, which will further aggravate their situation,” Samadova said.
The Ministry of Defense suggests that the new Law will put an end to corruption, because the conscripts will be able to get a military identity card without breaking the law. The Ministry also believes that the adoption of the new Law will put an end to the practice of ‘illegal conscription’ into military service.
However, Tajik lawyer Shukhrat Kudratov believes that the new Law will not solve these problems.
“The conscripts do not want to go to the army because of ‘dedovschina’ [the abuse of new conscripts by older soldiers] and poor conditions. Since there are no changes for the better, the military registration offices will still be forced to recruit conscripts during the raids,” Kudratov said.
He believes that the fee set by the authorities will be unaffordable for many conscripts, and they will still try to bribe officials to get a military identity card, bypassing the official procedure.
“Currently, most young people migrate to earn a living, but in the future, they will migrate to buy military identity cards,” said Kudratov.
“The Principle of Compulsory Military Conscription is Obsolete”
According to military expert Mahdi Sobir, the new Law “On Compulsory Military Responsibilities and Military Service” does not correspond to the current reality.
“This Law is in force since the Soviet times. When society becomes capitalist, it has to be abolished,” Sobir said.
He believes the military service should be contractual, for a term of one year.
“It is necessary to cancel conscription and make military service contractual, so that young people come and serve the country for a certain salary. In this case, everyone will go to the army,” Mahdi Sobir said.
This article was prepared as part of the Giving Voice, Driving Change – from the Borderland to the Steppes Project. The opinions expressed in the article do not reflect the position of the editorial or donor.