Tajikistan offers amnesty for returning ISIS fighters

Unlike other countries, Tajikistan says militants who fight for ISIS will be forgiven if they voluntarily leave the armed group

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Tajikistan has offered amnesty to citizens who have fought for ISIS and voluntarily left the militant group.

The Central Asian state has announced its amnesty plan in exchange for repentance and hopes the returning militants will convince others not to join ISIS or other militant groups.

Unlike many other countries which threaten returning militants with imprisonment or stripping them of their citizenship, the Tajik government says it will forgive "former militants" who regret their actions and come back to home voluntarily.

"Young people who took part in military conflicts in Syria, Iraq, and other countries but have realized their mistake, regret their action, and voluntarily leave the conflict zone... will be allowed to return home," Tajikistan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs has said in a statement.

The government believes hundreds of Tajiks went to Iraq and Syria to fight with ISIS. The officials say they will help those who want to return with proper documents when they reach the border and set up a hotline to decide "if the fighter genuinely wants to quit the militant group."  

The line has received "several phone calls" since it was set up on May 9, RFE/RL reported.

According to the report, at least six Tajik fighters returned home recently and have been working with the government against ISIS and talking with people about "ISIS’ crimes." One of them was charged with fighting in a foreign country.

The head of Tajikistan’s special forces unit, Gulmurod Khalimov, has joined ISIS - appearing in an online video posted on late May. Khalimov said he joined ISIS in protest at Tajikistan’s policies regarding religion, which he claims are anti-Islamic, adding that he will return to Tajikistan “with slaughter.”

Many Tajiks support the amnesty, RFE/RL has reported, some saying it is a second chance for "young people who have recognised their mistakes."

TRTWorld and agencies