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Article Archive for Year 2011

Dec 19-23: New gov’t, blackouts and human rights
Written by , Monday, 26 Dec, 2011 – 1:38 | No Comment

With the presidential elections “fever” over and the president inaugurated, it is now time in Kyrgyzstan to appoint a new government.  The incumbent president, Almazbek Atambayev, ascended to presidency from the post of the prime minister of Kyrgyzstan and triggered the government reshuffling.

On Monday, 19 December 2011, then candidate Prime Minister Omurbek Babanov initiated decreasing the number of ministries. He argued doing so would save some 1bn soms (about 22m USD), and decrease the salary burden on budget by firing over 3,000 state employees. A wise move indeed; however, there is room for further “shrinking”. For instance, the ministry of education and sciences can assume the “youth” component of the ministry for youth, labor and employment. Whereas the ministry for social security could intake the “labor and employment.” Further, the ministry of economy and antimonopoly policies can safely deal with “finances” of the ministry for finances. After all, they are of the same “nature.” Read the full story »

Minors in worship places in Tajikistan: nothing really changed?
Written by , Saturday, 24 Dec, 2011 – 2:08 | No Comment

After Tajik President Emomali Rahmon signed into law a bill “On the responsibility of parents for their children’s upbringing and education” in August, 2011, citizens of the poorest country in Central Asia have mixed feelings — it’s good to make sure their kids will be prevented from going to places where future extremists and fundamentalists are raised. On the other hand, why does the government puts all the religious organizations in one melting pot as if they are going to ‘share’ their negative practices with each other?

To remind, the bill that bans minors from attending religious places of worship, was initiated by the President in December, 2010. It become effective right after it had been published by state media.

Article 8, one of the most contradictory points of the bill, lists parents’ responsibilities, who:

“must not allow children’s particiption in religious organizations’ activities, excluding children officially studying in religious establishments.”

I talked to a few Tajik friends of mine. Here are their opinions: Read the full story »

Uzbek newspaper ‘breaks’ the news about riots in Kazakhstan
Written by , Friday, 23 Dec, 2011 – 15:17 | No Comment

Uzbek Novosti Uzbekistana (News of Uzbekistan) newspaper has published an article, entitled “Arab Wind Over the Kazakh Steppe” (issue #51 of December 23, 2011).

Author mentions about 15 people killed in riots, as well as emphasizes that use of force “will make the wound deeper.”

Experts, some of whom see Ablyazov’s hand in this, and of course through Respublika nespaper, Kanal+ TV channel and Svoboda Slova (Freedom of Speech). Moreover, the cheesy “how-were-rally-participants-able-to-sustain-for-seven-months?” argument was also used to emphasize Ablyazov’s and Rakhat Aliyev’s participation.

To make this short, experts agree with the fact that Kazakhstan is on the threshold of a threat with symptoms of the Arab Spring. They develop it: social networks were used to gather people, while security services found external ties to the riot activists.

“Here comes the question: Who was dissatisfied by stability in Kazakhstan, and by its president Nazarbayev, who built up pretty equal relations in all geopolitical dimension?” the author, Oleg Stolpovsky wonders.

The fact that this publication is the first even in Uzbek press could have a message with it — the Uzbek censorship guys got sanctions to make Nazarbayev’s reputation of a successful leader and a winner in the Karimov vs. Nazarbayev struggle for leadership, drawn in the blood of revolutionaries. To the level where Karimov stands himself.

Uzbek tabloid suggests ways to avoid censorship
Written by , Wednesday, 21 Dec, 2011 – 21:37 | No Comment

Almost apolitical and owned by a group totaly loyal to President Karimov and his daughter, the most tabloid of all the Uzbek tabloids and most lovable by housewifes and celebrity news followers, Darakchi magazine gives directions of how to access banned websites without keeping visitors’ records, e.g. their IP numbers.

Even though this short note is given in the end of the magazine, that is either something editor had not noticed and, relying on his staffers who know nithing but copy-pasting articles from other media, approved it for publication, or the responsible person did not find it as threatening national cyber-security.

On one hand, the author explains why using proxy servers is such a popular phenomenon — people around the world use those IT-tools to make sure their private info is not kept even after their visits to this or that page.

On the other hand, Uzbekistan is a country that practices tough censorship and those who want to read banned information have to either use proxy servers, or have a satellite internet connection that is not filtered by Uzbektelecom, a state-owned telecommunication company.

One of the ways to avoid banning is to use HideMyAss proxy web site. Other two are TOR and Guardster. Read the full story »

Uzbekistan has a Human Rights-oriented government? Duh!..
Written by , Tuesday, 20 Dec, 2011 – 15:55 | No Comment

Apart from expensive and useless receptions and seminars on human rights theory for high school and university students and older generations, i.e. former Communists who did not know about human rights during Soviet times, the government of Uzbekistan is not really interested in spreading more information on human rights with its own people who do not attend schools and are not invited to fancy events like the one organized by the National Human Rights Center directed by irreplaceable Akmal Saidov, with participation of international guests.

Moreover, nobody in the government dares to even think about discussing real human rights situation in the Uzbekistan — “Interests of a human being are priority over anything,” or “Uzbekistan has ratified all six UN conventions on human rights” is the classic response to any sort of concerns regarding independent reports on human rights violations.

The article claims that the National Human Rights Center had participated in the expertise of more than 100 bills and 10 National plans of actions in the field of human rights.

The event, entitled “International treaties and Uzbekistan’s experience in the process of prefectioning of the national human rights and freedoms system,” became the main concluding event in the “Welcome-to-Uzbekistan-the-land-of-happiness-and-human-rights-protection” propaganda program for 2011.

To make the event seem legit, Mr. Saidov invited Ombudsman from Slovenia, representatives from the Danish Institute for Human Rights, National Center for Human Rights of Slovakia, Scottish Human Rights Commission, who talked about the role of human rights and the way Uzbekistan deals with “every single case of human rights violations.” Read the full story »

Central Asians Frustrated by Border Checks
Written by , Tuesday, 20 Dec, 2011 – 14:47 | No Comment

Kazakh-Uzbek border

Political tensions, trade rules and simple corruption make travel between Central Asian states a complex and unpleasant business.

By Almaz RysalievAskar AktalovInga SikorskayaDina TokbaevaTimur ToktonalievLola Olimova - Central Asia

Twenty years after the newly-independent states of Central Asia began marking off their borders, residents say they avoid travel to neighbouring countries whenever they can, as the experience is so stressful and unpleasant.

IWPR asked people in various countries to describe what the journeys they make involve. Across the region, common themes emerged – massive bureaucracy, obstructive behaviour, extortion and harassment by frontier officials.

The atmosphere at crossing-points is tense at the best of times, and whenever two governments fall out, innocent travellers suffer the consequences. Apart from feeding a sense of injustice and powerlessness, the hostile treatment of travellers tends to reinforce negative stereotypes about neighbouring nations.

Read the full story »

Kim Jong-il and Václav Havel’s deaths: to leave as an inglorious dictator or as a respectable person
Written by , Monday, 19 Dec, 2011 – 14:40 | 3 Comments

Today’s news about North Korean ruthless dictator Kim Jong-il’s death, who actually died on Saturday, December 17, came along with news about a death of another world-known political figure, Václav Havel.

Both had their own ways to leading positions in the government — North Korean blue-blooded Kim, son of then leader of North Korea’s Kim Il-sung, and future “Dear Leader” and “Generalissimo”, got into his seat due to his father’s will.

Václav Havel, born to a well-known and wealthy entrepreneurial and intellectual family, dedicated himself to the democratization of Czechoslovakia, an active participant of the Prague Spring. Read the full story »

Keeping an eye on Mangystau Province
Written by , Sunday, 18 Dec, 2011 – 17:20 | One Comment

Not only is Internet in my part of Belgium about as reliable as the Internet in Dushanbe, but December and January are the academic busy season here, so it’s difficult to juggle all the papers I need to write with my duties covering Central Asia. Such is life as a full-time graduate student/full-time editor, I suppose, but this business going down in western Kazakhstan really needs to be mentioned.

Read the full story »

Masterpieces. Banned. Hidden.; Art documentary comes to Tajikistan
Written by , Saturday, 17 Dec, 2011 – 11:00 | One Comment

I found these paintings, rolled up under the beds of old widows, buried in family trash.
These were forbidden works by artists who stayed true to their vision, at a terrible cost
.”
– “The Desert of Forbidden Art

A piece of documentary art, about forbidden art, has come to Central Asia – again.

The 80-minute long documentary of Amanda Pope and Tchavdar Georgiev (writers, producers and directors), “The Desert of Forbidden Art”, was screened on Friday December 9th, 2011 at 6:00 p.m. at the BACTRIA Cultural Center (ak. Rajabovih 15 Street) in Tajikistan’s capital city Dusanbe.

The Desert of Forbidden Art”, a documentary that “takes us on a dramatic journey of sacrifice for the sake of creative freedom”, narrates how Russian artist Igor Savitsky– the virtuoso man of paint, archeology and collection, particularly of avant-garde art – rescued the forbidden work of fellow artists. Savitsky founded the State Art Museum of the Republic of Karakalpakstan, an art museum based in Nukus, Uzbekistan (capital city of the Autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan, in northwest Uzbekistan). The museum opened in 1966 and hosts 82,000 items – comprising the world’s second largest Russian avant-garde collection (after the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg).

Read the full story »

365 & 24/7: Uzbeks in exhile protest and keep Uzbek diplomats ‘busy’
Written by , Friday, 16 Dec, 2011 – 16:37 | 3 Comments

Seems like Uzbek diplomats oversees do not enjoy their holidays. One of the most recent spoiled holidays for Uzbek authorities and foreign service officers was a protest infront of the Uzbek Consulate General in Istanbul on September 1, 2011, which is celebrated as Independence Day in Uzbeistan.

The protest, which was organized by People’s Movement of Uzbekistan (PMU), gathered some fifty human rights activists to express their negative attitude towards gross human rights violations and totalitarian political regime.

This time PMU activists made Uzbek Consulate staffers stay in their offices and hide behind curtains, take pictures and videotape the disagreement expressed on protesters’ banners, as well as in their speeches.

Banner prepared by Özbekler Birliği.org (Union of Uzbeks) aimed to inform people passing by and publicity about “22 years of state terror” in Uzbekistan, along with some statistics and a “Karimov-as-a-vampire” collage:

- 25 million people are slaves;
- 5 million kids pick cotton;
- 20,000 prisoners of consciousness;
- 5 million unemployed;
- 3,000 victims of Andijan;
- 54 Turkish businessmen imprisoned, their businesses confiscated. Read the full story »