Cablegate: Engaging Human Rights Day Discussion at Tajik Technological

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A. A) DUSHANBE 002004

B. B) DUSHANBE 002005

1. The Russian Embassy and Tajik Embassy didn't want it to
happen. But CdA and EmbOffs held a broad-ranging and energetic
discussion with students and faculty members of the Tajik
Technological University for Human Rights Day 2005 (NOTE: Not
Tajik Technical University as stated in reftels A and B. END
NOTE.) CdA delivered opening remarks, fielded several poignant
questions, and before turning over the remainder of the nearly
two-hour roundtable discussion to PolOff, PAS, and USAID.

2. The Tajik Technological Students led off the discussion with
direct questions about secret CIA prisons in Europe, America's
hope to improve democracy/human rights in Tajikistan, and a
soulful criticism on how real Tajiks can care about democracy if
more pressing and primal concerns, like hunger and heat, make
democracy seem like a luxury that only other countries can
afford. CdA emphasized that democratically elected governments
are more responsive and accountable, especially on issues that
hit home like jobs and poverty reduction and said Tajikistan can
have prosperity and democracy. On secret prisons, CdA said the
United States is wrestling with the issue, in the framework of
established human rights accords and with the full and necessary
participation of an open press.

3. Later in the discussion, Rector Amir Kataev and Deputy
Rector Bozorali Azizov tried to steer the conversation away from
human rights to focus on the politically safe theme of how they
can increase material funding and cooperation between the
university and the Embassy. The students, undeterred by
official posturing by their university leaders, returned to the
topic of human rights and democracy with most of their

4. COMMENT: The Tajik Government still considers the very
words "human rights" taboo. The reality, however, is that
students and Tajiks are often very willing to tackle the subject
with EmbOffs given the right setting. The Tajik Technological
students asked heartfelt, engaging, and at times accusatory and
challenging questions. But the informal setting and give and
take resonated with the students who clearly enjoyed a chance to
parry and match wits with Embassy staff. Post will continue to
use any and all opportunity to have such discussions with Tajik
students of all ages. END COMMENT.


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