Uzbek journalists celebrate Press and Mass Media Workers Day
Pressa va Ommaviy Axborot Vositalari Xodimlari Kuni Muborak!
Матбуот ва Оммавий Ахборот Воситалари Ходимлари Куни Муборак!
Congratulations to Uzbekistan’s truth-seeking and non-propagandist journalists, editors, publishers and employees of the print industry.
On June 27th, Uzbekistan celebrated the professional Day of Press and Mass Media, just a few weeks after Tashkent based freelance journalist Feruza Hashimhanova was accused of “criminal behaviour.”
In celebration, the National Television and Radio company of Uzbekistan (NTRU) congratulated their staff: “Let success are accompanied with in your honorable activity on maintenance of prosperity of our Motherland and our People. We wish you health, happiness and new creative successes!” In celebrating the work of their media personnel, the NTRU held the fourth annual media award ceremony, which saw the participation of 80 some media workers from independent TV and Radio channels, State Unitary Enterprise and regional TV and Radio companies.
In Uzbekistan, today, there are over “900 print editions, four information agencies and more than a hundred radio stations and TV channels” and since 2004 “the annual growth of nongovernmental print media has constituted more than 30% against 7% growth in governmental ones.” But here’s an even more interesting media fact: today there are at least the 11 media personnel currently detained in Uzbekistan for their journalistic activities.
Despite this alarming number, President Islam Karimov ‘so honourably’ said:
“Once more we think about bringing the country’s mass media to the world standards, contributing to this matter. Today there is now obstacle to information: any efforts and actions towards restriction of freedom of speech are useless and senseless. Mass media should not restrict themselves to highlighting and reflecting the reality, but, first of all, they ought to become protectors of people’s interests, and journalists should in the very sense of this word – to be selflessness in this complex sphere requiring a strong will.”
Really? Nice speech Mr. President, but you should take your own advice seriously, and actually implement it in your system of governance.
For World Press Freedom Day this year, neweurasia’s Avicenna examined the rankings of press freedom in Central Asian countries – proving how Uzbekistan does not meet Karimov’s desired “world standards” and the country’s media restrictions actually directly contribute towards the “obstacles of information.”
On the President’s official webpage, Karimov addressed his country’s media holiday – expressing nothing short of complete hypocrisy – with special mention of the Internet:
“We fully support the desire of our fellow citizens increasingly use the Internet. I want to repeat once again: we absolutely do not accept the establishment of any walls, limitations in the information world, leading to isolation.”
Then why, Mr. Karimov, on World Day Against Cyber Censorship (March 12, 2011) did Reporters Without Borders classify Uzbekistan classified as an Enemy of the Internet? And why are prominent Central Asian news websites and blogs – neweurasia.net, uznews.net, Fergana News and others – blocked in Uzbekistan?
In a 2005 speech, President Karimov reinforced his notion of “real” journalism, which solely supports the Motherland and its State views.
“…Only those who are devoted and faithful to journalism and those who care about the state’s and people’s interests deserve the people’s respect. Using this opportunity, I would like to draw your attention to one thing: Who does a real journalist serve? And who do they put their lives at risk for? For this hard working people, for them not to be dependent on others, for the bright future of this country’s children and their happiness, for the blessed land and for the sacred motherland.”
The heart of this long withstanding biased Motherland matter lies in a 2011 quote by Uzbekistan Today:
“Wide celebration of this date is quite symbolical. Words of journalists who consider objectivity and truthfulness, interests of their Motherland and people as the criteria of their work, find a way to hearts of all people.
But what about the journalists who report on issues that are not of interest to the Motherland – who seek to expose the ways in which the Motherland is actually harming its people and poisoning society by targeting journalists. Keeping silent against the regime’s mishaps and abuses further ‘finds a way to break the hearts of all the people’ whose hearts have already been broken by the government.
Karimov said: “At the same time taking stock of our work on the development of the media, I think there is no need to prove that for all of us today is the most important to draw the appropriate conclusions, put on the agenda of the current dictated by the time the issues and provide a solution.” Yes, it is time to find a just solution so the true – free and non-propagandized – practice of journalism can prevail in Uzbekistan.
But on this June day of celebration – did Karimov recognize former Uzbek journalist Dina Yafasova, interrogated and threatened by state police over the identity of her sources, who sought asylum in Denmark 10 years ago? Will he make sure that Tashkent journalist Hashimhanova’s case does not unjustly turn into a civil or criminal court case? Did, and will, Karimov demand the just implementation of all articles in the “Law on the Mass Media”? Did he congratulate journalist Abdumaik Boboyev for finally being able to leave Uzbekistan to seek safety outside of the country? Will Karimov – a self-proclaimed believer free speech – condemn the arrest of journalists Saodat Omonova and Malohat Eshonkulova (former employees of state-owned TV station Yoshlar) on June 27th for ”trying to begin a hunger strike outside the presidential palace in the capital to protest media censorship”?
Unsatisfied with the President’s speech, Fergana News reports:
“…However, exactly how to deal with the danger of free flow of information, the Uzbek leader does not know. He can only hope that the pocket propaganda press will be effective in matters of ideological education of young people.”
Only time will only tell what this day of media celebration means for the future of media in Uzbekistan. But for now, here’s a toast to the honorable journalists – both inside and outside their Motherland – who expose to the world the truths about President Islam Karimov and Uzbekistan.
Below are articles regarding this national media workers day and ads of congratulations sent to Uzbek newspeople by different companies and organizations. These articles and ads are reminiscent of the Soviet times, when organizations were forced to pay for messages that had no affiliation to their line of work, as a method in which to support national ideology.