Tadzhik Protesters Defy State Of Emergency In Continuing Rally With AM-Soviet-Republics, Bjt
DUSHANBE, U.S.S.R. (AP) _ Bearded old men and students chanting ″Resign, resign 3/8″ vowed Wednesday not to end their protest until Tadshikistan’s Communist president and parliament relinquish power.
″We demand that they go,″ said Toher Abu Jabor, leader of the Rastokhiz (Revival) movement. He accused the Communist majority in this Central Asian republic’s parliament of staging a coup to regain control.
Thousands of Islamic faithful, opposition activists and young professionals rallied for the third day on Liberation Square, formerly Lenin Square, across from the salmon-colored colonnaded parliament.
At times, speeches escalated into hysteria and people shook their fists in rhythm to chants of ″We won’t go away 3/8″ and ″Resign 3/8″ Some said they had begun hunger strikes.
A dozen large tents lent an air of permanence to the protest.
The orderly but determined rally reflected conflict across Soviet Central Asia, where old-line leaders are holding onto power in the face of opposition movements seeking to follow the example set in Moscow.
Speakers denounced the Communists from a podium beneath the tarpaulin- shrouded stump where a 25-ton statue of Lenin stood until it was toppled and shattered on Sunday, igniting a smoldering conflict.
After the failed coup in Moscow last month, the Communists, who hold 95 percent of the 248 parliament seats, removed President Kakhar Makhkamov, who had endorsed the coup. They installed Kadriddin Aslonov in his place.
Late Saturday, Dushanbe city workers began removing the Lenin statue on orders from the mayor. At about the same time, the republic’s branch of the Communist Party changed its name to the Socialist Party.
A crew worked all night on the statue, using small cranes because the heavy equipment they needed was not available. Early Sunday, the statue slipped loose and smashed on the pavement.
″Some young boys jumped on the broken pieces to celebrate,″ Abu Jabor said, ″and the government made a film of this for the television to discredit the opposition as vandals.″
That day, Aslonov banned the Communist Party, whatever its name, and seized its assets. But his announcement was not broadcast. In a special session Monday, he resigned. Abu Jabor said Aslonov’s family had been threatened.
In his place, Parliament named Rakhman Nabiyev, an old party stalwart who was forced to retire after Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev started nationwide political reforms in 1985. Nabiyev began a political comeback about a year ago, running unsuccessfully for president against Makhkamov.
When Aslonov was removed, a state of emergency was declared, banning public gatherings and even sporting events.
When the word spread, tens of thousands of people spilled out in the streets for a rally organized by Rastokhiz, the Democratic Party of Tadzhikistan and the illegal Islamic Revival Party. Religious parties have been banned in several Central Asian republics by authorities fearful of Muslim fundamentalism.
Organizers took pains to keep the continuing rally peaceful, and young men with electric megaphones herded people off the streets and into a large open square so that traffic was not disrupted.
The government blared counter-appeals from Nabiyev over speakers affixed to light poles. Water was cut off, but teams of protesters brought a steady supply in baskets.
No troops were in sight and a single ambulance remained at a discreet distance.
Interior Minister Mamatayaz Naudzhuanov told reporters:
″In theory, the law gives me the right to use force anytime to restore order but I don’t want to do this. Our people are sensible. The only way out of this is peaceful dialogue.″
Nabiyev declined to see reporters Wednesday, but in a Tuesday speech to parliament he appealed for calm and common sense. He said workers were needed to pick cotton and harvest crops.
Some opposition leaders met with Nabiyev on Tuesday, but later announced no new common ground.
The opposition says the Communist majority was a result of a conservative reaction to protests against Mahkhamov in February 1990, when at least 25 people were killed, mostly by Soviet troops. New elections are not due until 1994.
Elsewhere in Dushanbe, feelings were mixed. Dalya Suleimanov, 24, an office worker, said she feared the protesters might get out of hand and cause unnecessary violence.
″The Communist Party should exist and history will determine its place,″ she said.
At the edge of the rally, three young lawyers described the Communist action against Aslonov as illegal. They said they wanted to see new parliamentary elections after fair and open campaigns.
″People will protest in the square for months, even years,″ said Mohammed Soleh Salomon. ″They want freedom and independence, and they are ready to stay here for a long time.″
Kuzi Sharouz, 64, squatting on his heels in the hot sun, was not leaving. He listened to the speeches, sometimes stroking his long white beard, or adjusting his patterned robe in rainbow hues.
″I came here to support religious ideas,″ he said, adding ″democracy″ and ″freedom ″ at the coaching of neighbors around him.
″How long I stay depends upon the Communist Party,″ Sharouz said. ″If our demands are not met, I will be here until my last day on earth.″