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Authorities block Internet, mobile and landline connections to Gorno Badakhshan province

(Human Rights Watch/IFEX) - New York, July 30, 2012 - Tajik authorities should respect human rights during a security operation in Gorno Badakhshan, a semi-autonomous region of eastern Tajikistan, Human Rights Watch said today.

Dozens of deaths and numerous injuries have been reported in the provincial capital, Khorog, after the Tajik government sent troops to the region to arrest those responsible for the fatal stabbing of the local state security chief on July 21, 2012.

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Tajik authorities have periodically blocked Internet, mobile, and landline connections to Gorno Badakhshan province since July 24, although communications were re-established on July 29. Asia Plus, the most widely read independent news source in the country, was blocked for several days. YouTube has been blocked in Tajikistan since July 26, after videos surfaced of small demonstrations in Khorog. There are reports that other Internet news sites remain blocked as well.

The head of the state communications service, Beg Zukhurov, claimed that a stray bullet had severed telephone, mobile, and Internet connections to the region.

Blocking communications to the region isolates families who may already be at great risk and prevents their relatives from obtaining information about their whereabouts and safety, Human Rights Watch said.

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