Tolib Ayombekov

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Tolib Ayombekov
Толиб Аёмбеков
Ayyombekov Interpol.jpg
Born (1966-07-06) July 6, 1966 (age 57)
Other namesTolibbek Ayyombekov
Political party United Tajik Opposition (1993–1997)

Tolibbek Ayyombekov (Tajiki : Толиббек Айёмбеков, Perso-Arabic script : طالب‌بیک ایام‌بیک‌اف; born 6 July 1966 in Khorog), commonly known as Tolib Ayombekov (Tajiki : Толиб Аёмбеков, Perso-Arabic script : طالب ایام‌بیک‌اف), is an Ismaili Shia Pamiri jailed ex-opposition fighter from Tajikistan, who was involved in the Gorno-Badakhshan clashes in 2012 against the government forces of ruling Tajik president Emomali Rahmon. [1] Until his arrest in June 2022, he was particularly influential in his home Khlebzavod microraion of Khorog. [2]

Ayombekov is the brother of former prominent Tajik opposition commander Abdulamon Ayombekov, [3] and was an opposition fighter during the 1992 to 1997 Tajik Civil War between the United Tajik Opposition and the government led by President Rahmon Nabiyev. Following his brother Abdulamon's assassination in 1994, he became the de facto leader of all opposition militias in Gorno-Badakhshan. [4] As part of subsequent peace deal between the opposing sides, Ayombekov was given a government post as head of the Ishkashim border detachment, and held the rank of lieutenant colonel. [3] However, Ayombekov and many other Tajik informal leaders were gradually driven out. Emomali Rahmon's government has also accused Ayombekov of tobacco smuggling.

After Major-General Abdullo Nazarov, the head of the Tajik intelligence agency "GKNB" in the local semi-autonomous province of Gorno-Badakhshan, was dragged out of his car, [5] [6] and was fatally stabbed in an incident in Ishkoshim, [7] [8] heavy fighting erupted on 24 July 2012 between government forces and militants loyal to Ayombekov in the streets of Khorog. [7] The Western media described the fighting as the worst in Tajikistan since 2010 [9] [10] or the 1992–1997 civil war. [11] Ayombekov denied any responsibility for Nazarov's death. [9] [10] The clashes ended when, on request of Ismaili Imam Karim Agha Khan, he surrendered himself to the Tajik government, in exchange for their withdrawal from Khorog. [12]

In the aftermath of the clashes, Tolib Ayombekov, together with other informal leaders including Muhammadboqir Muhammadboqirov and Yodgorshoh Muhammadaslamov, was entered into ICPO-INTERPOL's database of wanted persons, at the request of the Tajik government. [13] He remained in it until January 2013. [14]

In 2018, following the onsent tensions in Badakhshan, all 7 informal leaders of Badakhshan, including Ayombekov, signed a protocol with the government, agreeing not to interfere in the activities of government agencies. In exchange for their agreement, all legal cases against them were dropped, and they were no longer officially referred to as criminals. Additionally, the government ceased demanding that they turn over all weapons in their possession. Following the signing of the protocol, the informal leaders were invited to meet Emomali Rahmon in Dushanbe. Ayombekov was among those that agreed to the invitation and arrived in Dushanbe. [3]

On 11 June 2022, following the killing of Tajik opposition figures Muhammadboqir Muhammadboqirov, Khursand Mazorov, and Zoir Rajabov, he was detained by Tajik security forces in Khorog, alongside Munavvar Shanbiev and Niyozshoh Gulobov. [15] On 23 November 2022, he and the other co-defendants were given a life sentence. [16] All 3 of his sons, as well as his 3 brothers, were arrested thereafter. [17]

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References

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  4. Sodiqov, Alexander (5 September 2012). "Explaining the Conflict in Eastern Tajikistan". Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst. Retrieved 2023-10-09. At the onset of the war, the Pamiris forged an alliance with the Islamic and Democratic forces, collectively known as the United Tajik Opposition (UTO), which fought against the ex-communist apparatchiks supported by powerful militias from the Kulyab region. As the latter gained control of the country's southern regions and the capital, Pamiri militias retreated to GBAO where high mountains and narrow valleys provided them with a secure defensive barrier. From early 1993 onwards, the commanders of these militias became the dominant political force in the region. They enjoyed broad popular support and came to be regarded as "heroes" because they defended the region from outsiders and used the profits made from the smuggling of gemstones and drugs to supply the local people with imported foodstuffs, thus saving them from starvation. Ayombekov became a de facto leader of these militias after his prominent brother, Abdulamon (aka "Hunchback Alyosh"), was assassinated in 1994. The other three strongmen targeted by the government also achieved prominence during the civil war.
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