Today’s blog is regarding yet another pressing issue that is happening as I type, and on that note, freely. This year at the University of Toronto I had the pleasure of taking a global politics course, with a TA that, if you can believe it actually helped each and every student, and interacted with us as equals. Alexander Sodiquov, is a Tajikistan native, a PhD student, a husband and a father. While conducting research in Tajikistan, he was arrested and detained by the state police. He is currently still behind bars, and has not been allowed any contact with his family. The University of Toronto has put together a webpage with information regarding Alexander’s situation, and a petition for his release. I will attach the mentioned link at the very bottom of this post.
Now, here is a situation that very much relates to International Relations. Canada must work in cooperation with Tajikistan in order to release this man, and that can be tough, to say the least. The region that Alexander was researching in, Gorno-Badakhshan was of a special interest to him as it is plagued by conflict between the army and “rebel” forces. Since his area of research was conflict in Central Asia, he would of course be interested in an area such as Gorno-Badakhshan. Alexander was interviewing various citizens in order to get their opinions on the conflict, which is likely what might have angered the government, who arrested him on the suspicion of espionage. Where this situation could get murky in a few different ways begins with the fact that Alexander may own a Tajikistan passport, deeming him a dual-citizen. This could be a problem because the government may have more control over him than if he was solely a Canadian citizen. Not to mention, his research project was being conducted out of Britain’s Exeter University, bringing yet another country into the situation. As the Tajik government likely suspects him of espionage in the name of either Britain or Canada, it’s hard to say what exactly the solution could be, what could bring him home to his family? Simply proving that he was on a research project will not be enough, because the violence in this region that was coming to an end was renewed in May amidst more conflict, thus raising the question that perhaps Alexander Sodiqov was in the wrong place at the absolute worst time, asking terrible questions. Nonetheless, Canada, Britain and the University of Toronto as well as I hope a few other organizations have not given up hope, and are working for the release of Alexander.
For the first time since I have been posting these blog entries, I can not simply come up with a solution, or a few solutions very fast. In times like these, countries must rely on the part of International Relations that refers to their relationships with each other. If Canada, Britain and Tajikistan all had technically good relationships, then perhaps this issue of espionage would not have come up in the first place. Then again, in a region heavily laden with violence, it might have happened anyways and it could be Tajikistan’s way of sending a message, or a threat to Britain or Canada, or maybe even the world that tensions are brewing, or that they are planning something that they do not want too many other countries becoming aware of. Again, this is speculation on my part, I do hope that you all read and sign the petition, and continue to think, beyond what is written, because sometimes it is only half of the story, and that is where potential solutions get lost.