Saturday 25 January 2020

Tajikistan blocks Facebook access

James Kilner

TAJIKISTAN, one of the former Soviet states that Britain tried to woo last week during a whirlwind diplomatic mission across Central Asia, has blocked access to Facebook, the social media website.

Lying on the border with Afghanistan, Tajikistan joins a short list of states which has intermittently blocked Facebook including Syria, Iran, China and Uzbekistan, also in Central Asia.

The ministry for communications told Tajik internet providers to cut access to Facebook and two other websites used by anti-government opposition groups on Saturday, the day after Nick Harvey, the UK’s Armed Forces minister, was in Dushanbe, the capital, to discuss the British military withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014.

"This morning, we carried out the instruction of the communications service and blocked the sites, and," one of Tajikistan’s internet providers told Reuters on Saturday on condition of anonymity.

"We could not refuse to carry out this instruction."

Authoritarian governments across the world are increasingly wary of Facebook and other social media tools such as the micro-blogging website Twitter which they blame for stirring unrest and revolution.

Facebook, and all published a recent story critical of Tajik president Emomali Rakhmon entitled “Tajikistan on the eve of a revolution”.

The Tajik authorities have cracked down on the media over the past 18 months as they try to quash anti-government momentum, a tactic used by other states in Central Asia.

Various Western lobby groups have criticised the Central Asian states for their human rights and media records but these are also the same governments that Britain and the other Nato powers are relying on to help shift military kit from Afghanistan in 2014.

On Friday Mr Harvey held talks with Mr Rakhmon at the end of a week-long tour of the Central Asian states. Mr Harvey was laying the groundwork ahead of bilateral deals designed to smooth transit routes through Central Asia.

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