Today Tajikistans parliament banned the adoption by foreign nationals.
Meanwhile, Ewan McGregor is adopting a Mongolian daughter, Jessica Simpson is considering adopting a Mexican orphan, Meg Ryan adopted a Chinese child, and, of course, Angelina Jolie is adopting half the developing world.
Coincidence or consequence? You decide.
Here is a piece of news that surfaced recently on Russian media regarding a problem that almost all Tajiks living in Russia face.
The strange thing is that neither Tajik nor Russian governments have paid enough attention to these blatant racial attacks. Perhaps the best example of such negligence is demonstrated by Russian court decision that sentenced the murderers of the 11-year-old Tajik girl to only 5 years of prison.
Neo Nazi groups sprung up in Russia after the fall of Soviet Union. This comes as a serious surprise for a nation that fought Nazi Germany as recently as 65 years ago. Yet, my feeling is that generally such groups appeal to general public and find support in it (that is based on several shows I watched on NTV about skinheads and generally how “willing” is the general public to help the victims of such attacks after they have been beaten to near-death) because they promote an alternative (and somewhat SICK) notion of Russian Identity”, that strokes Russian egos.
No stats are available on the extent of such attacks, but my guess is that they are quite high. In one of the flights I took back home from Moscow, I came accross a crippled guy in his 20s. When I asked what happened, his relatives who came to Moscow to get him told me that he got attached by skinheads. He spent a month in a hospital and no one knew of his existence until he came back from coma and told about what happened. I have been told that in almost all Moscow-Dushanbe flights there is at least one person who is going home crippled.
The US ambassador to Tajikistan Richard E. Hoagland sees Tajikistan as a remarkable success story. In this article he goes on to a great detail to describe his observations and share his thoughts about the economic development of the country for the past three years. It is quite a pleasant surprise to learn that he has such a great faith in the future of the country, but again after living in the country for a while and witnessing the potential of people who live in Tajikistan this becomes a natural conclusion. I am glad he has that rare vision that cuts deep into the potential of the nation and goes beyond the present.
In the 1990s, Tajikistan “suffered a double blow,” Richard E. Hoagland, U.S. ambassador to Tajikistan, said in a March 31 speech. Gaining independence in 1991, the former Soviet republic lost its financial support from Russia and quickly fell into a “catastrophic” civil war lasting from 1992 until 1997, Hoagland said.
Today, Tajikistan is “well on its way not just to recovery but to prosperity,” Hoagland said at the Center for Strategic Research of the President of Tajikistan.
It is true that Tajikistan has had a bad start after the fall of Soviet Union. Apart from losing subsidies from Moscow, it plunged into a civil war that devastated the country even further. The country has no substantial natural resources to offer to the rest of the world, apart from drinking and irrigation water and hydropower. The countrys only aluminum smelter takes up a sizable portion of its current industrial production and GDP. But all these facts of life and particularly the civil war unified Tajiks and made them much stronger as a nation. The economic growth that the country has experienced in the past few years is a result of all these circumstances. Tajiks have been given a lemon and learned how to make a lemonade. But the trick is not to stop at what has already been achieved.
I believe Tajikistan’s main resource is its people. I believe that Tajiks have an unbelievably competitive and progressive nature and given the right economical and political conditions they will undoubtedly prosper as a nation. I say that because I lived in a city that was devastated by war and I saw how it was rebuilt in a mere two years by the very people who lived there. Back then these people had virtually nothing to start their lives (their houses were burned down and vandalized), they only had a hope that tomorrow will be a better day than today and they were the only ones who could make it so.
I am sure this attitude is still present overall in the society and I believe it is this spirit (and anything that encourages it) that would make the country grow in the future.
The OSCE will be monitoring the presidential elections in Tajikistan in November, 2006. The question is why. Having OSCE observers didnt work out so well for Kazakhstan, and it is basically predetermined that they will pronounce the elections to be significantly flawed in Tajikistan as well. Already there have been significant infractions and the election is still half a year away.
The answer probably lies in the carrot the OSCE is holding out to Tajikistan:
Rakhmonov expressed satisfaction with a project regarding firearms and weapons that the population owns, and a project of clearing Tajikistany territory from mines. The president also asked for projects of border defense that will be discussed in constant council in Vienna.
At least Tajikistan was visited during the OSCEs tour, unlike the snubbed Uzbekistan.
Bowyer oversaw a public opinion poll conducted in Tajikistan by IFES prior to the February 2005 election (click here for full report). Below is a summary of some of the findings.
- Satisfaction has improved markedly since 1996; a majority has a positive assessment of the economy, and expects better times to come.
- A majority prefers a state-controlled economy, but support for a market system has increased significantly since 1996.
- Corruption and quality of water supply are major exceptions to a general satisfaction with the current situation.
- Only a minority is interested in politics, and that minority has decreased further since 1996; a majority also says that they know little to nothing about politics. Bowyer noted that this intrinsically related to the fact that it is very difficult to obtain local news in Tajikistan because most people get their news from Russian TV that does not focus on local issues. This is leading to an increasing reliance on the internet by the younger generation.
- There is strong support for democracy, and a strong belief that Tajikistan is a democracy.
- Democracy is most associated with freedom of action and speech, and is not closely associated with freedom of press, economic prosperity, or freedom of movement.
- 79% of the population believes that elections matter and are important, up from 39% in 1996.
- There is a very positive view of Russia, and a very negative view of Uzbekistan.
- Islamic extremists are seen as the biggest threat group, namely Hizb ut-Tahrir.
Bowyer noted that the Tajik government is still enjoying a honeymoon precipitated by the end of the civil war. The regime enjoys very high tolerance because people are so happy to be done with the fighting.
He also noted that the Islamic parties in Tajikistan are not very visible, but are doing a very good job of attracting young people. Bowyer said that they stand at a crossroads between becoming moderate religious parties reminiscent of those in Turkey, ore more extreme underground movements.
According to one source, the Government of Tajikistan has reversed its very unpopular decision to bulldoze the countrys only synagogue. The synagogues rabbi has promised to refurbish the site so that it better fits in with the planned Palace of the Nation.
The decision (assuming the governments new commitment to leave the synagogue alone holds true) comes a bit late, however, as some parts of the synagogue have already been destroyed.
Last month, the city authorities moved in and destroyed the classroom, the kosher slaughterhouse and ritual bathhouse which formed part of the synagogue complex. Mayoral spokesman Shavkat Saidov said the synagogue itself will be gone by the end of June.
(from IWPR story)
It is somewhat unclear, however, to what extent Jewish protests to the synagogues destruction are financially based, and to what extent it is a purely spiritual matter. For example this:
For some in the congregation, the dispute seems to come down to resources they might consider moving but they just do not have the funds for a complete new building, making the current one irreplaceable
Yury Sigal, originally from Ukraine but resident here for 38 years, says the community members are now mostly elderly and are not well off. We just cant build a new synagogue out of our own money, he said.
…seems to contradict the commitment to refurbish the synagogue; if there is enough money to refurbish it significantly, there is probably enough money enough money to build a new one on a plot of land leased at a discount by the government. Another reason is convenience: the current location is allegedly very convenient for elderly members.
But convenience and cost are beside the point; Tajikistan has made a wise choice in reversing its decision. Marginalizing a dwindling minority group is especially unjustifiable when the purpose is to build a lavish palace; the government should have seen this publicity nightmare coming a mile away.
Tajikistans commitment to development seems to be paying off (setbacks in democratization notwithstanding). The International Monetary Fund has agreed to work closely with Tajikistan to strengthen macroeconomic policy, as well as provide poverty-reduction loans.
Like Kazakhstan, Tajikistan seems to be focusing very closely on improving the quality of life in the country in terms of health and economic wellbeing, but ignoring or backpedaling on other types of reform such as opening up the political system. The country is certainly surpassing neighbors such as Uzbekistan, who just lost World Bank funding.
According to this post, a number of Tajik educators arrived in the US for an eight-day study tour at the Center for Economic Education at Fort Hays State University. The aim of the program is to show how economic education is delivered in the US.
Mahbouba Avezova, executive director of the Foundations for Economic Reforms, and Sulhiya Bahodurova, senior teacher at the Khudjansk branch of the Tajik University of Technology, will speak with select FHSU classes and Hays and Lucas-Luray K-12 students. They will also participate in several visits during their eight-day stay in Hays, including Hays Medical Center, Wal-Mart Super Center, Bank of America and EnerSys Telecommunications Battery Manufacturing Plant.
Hopefully, through this program, Tajik educators will gain invaluable experience and transfer their knowlege to the generation of young Tajiks.
Since 1995, the NCEE has conducted the economic education component of the Cooperative Education Exchange Program. Legislation for the CEEP grew out of the conviction that economic and civic education are critical to the economic health and political stability of the emerging democracies of the former Soviet Union and eastern and central Europe. The program promotes educational reform through training, materials translation and development, study tours, conferences and other forms of exchange.
I recently came across a site about Tajikistan and decided to share a link with you. The author of the site (Peter Flindell) is a photographer so it has some breathtaking pictures of Tajikistan. The photos are followed by short stories about the events and the context in which the pictures were taken. I got in touch with the author via email and he said he has a new series of pictures on Tajikistan, which will be available on his new site , sometime in April of this year.
On 8 January 2006 a fire destroyed the Chorog orphanage for intellectually disabled children in Gorki Street in Dushanbe. 13 children were killed in the blaze. The children who have survived were moved to a temporary home in a rehabilitation centre in Dushanbe.
Around the fire there have been a number of unverified rumors. The most striking is that the fire brigades only came one hour after the fire had started, although the staff claims they called immediately. The orphange was located in a central location in Dushanbe, close to the ministries and this might lead to the assumption held by different people that the place should actually be turned into money rather than to keep “valueless” children there.
Astonishingly, President Rahmanov himself took charge of this affair and accused members of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. Furthermore, Rahmanov is now opting for a new nation-wide centre in the Varzob district for up to 300 disabled children which would also train staff and offer families to be close to their children. This centre will be located in a town about 20 km North of Dushanbe. It will be built with the strategic support of UNICEF and other International Organisations.
Despite of the tragic event the resulting effects seem to be rather positive. But there are a number of reasons why the plan to build a new centre for disabled children is a rather worrying development.
- Exclusion of disabled children: All over Tajikistan there are 90 boarding schools (internats). Many of these are for disabled children. The conditions in these internats are grim. The buildings are in a bad state, often without electricity and gas. For food there is an allocation of about 50 Dirham ($ 0.15 Cent) per day and child. Still the boarding school system occupies financial resources that could be used in a more efficient way how a study commissioned by the World Bank in 2000 showed (PDF file). The children are mainly from the region where the boarding schools are located but some children come from remote regions. In some internats the teachers are not paid on a regular basis. The situation in the internats is an indicator of the inability of the Tajik government to fullfil its obligations it commited to in the UN Convention for the Rights of the Children. One way to improve the situation would be to provide proper funding. Amidst the cash-starved Tajik economy, the government should develop a plan of de-institutionalisation of internats and changing the schools system in a way so that it would be possible to provide schooling in the communities where the disabled children live.
- Not tackling the underlying issues of disability in Tajikistan: Like in any other country, disability is a complex phenomena. Disabled people and their families face stigma and discrimination. To improve the sitation of disabled people it is necessary to provide sufficient training of professionals, change the assessment procedures for disabled people and change the attitude of the wider public.