Radio Free Europe

RFE/RL journalists report the news in 22 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established, including Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Russia.

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Tajikistan Hands Down Five Life Sentences Amid Badakhshan Clampdown.

Tajik officials have been cracking down on activists in the volatile GBAO since mass protests in the volatile region in May were violently dispersed by police and security forces.

Tajik officials have been cracking down on activists in the volatile GBAO since mass protests in the volatile region in May were violently dispersed by police and security forces.

Dushanbe -- A well-known activist and an ex-commander were among five defendants given life sentences by the Tajik Supreme Court on November 23 amid a crackdown by authorities following unrest in the volatile Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO).

Authorities did not provide details of the trials or life sentences for activist Munavvar Shanbiev, former commander Talib Ayyombekov, and three others.

Eight other defendants received prison sentences of 10 to 30 years.

Relatives of some of the convicts reported the trial was held behind closed doors and little was known about the proceedings.

Tajik officials have been cracking down on activists in GBAO since mass protests in the volatile region in May were violently dispersed by police and security forces.

Tajik authorities have said 10 people were killed and 27 injured during the clashes between protesters and police.

Residents of the remote region's Rushon district, however, have told RFE/RL that 21 bodies were found at the sites of the clashes.

Deep tensions between the government and residents of the restive region have simmered ever since a five-year civil war broke out shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Still, protests are rare in the tightly controlled nation of 9.5 million where President Emomali Rahmon has ruled with an iron fist for nearly three decades.

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