Saturday, May 14, 2005

On the Revolt and Massacre in Uzbekistan (Links)

Tick-tock, tick-tock: I have been stating that this part of the world is going to play increasingly across headlines in the West (see the last few paragraphs of my inaugural essay part I below). . .I don't mention this to inflate my own ego, but just to make another loud call that people--activists especially--start to wake up and learn about this region, about Eurasia. . .

So here are some links to articles about the situation in Uzbekistan, from Radio Free Europe and the Eurasian Daily Monitor:

1) Don't believe the media hype: these protests are not purely nor even mostly about people wanting to set-free and defend a group of Islamic fundamentalist prisoners; they are about the poor economic conditions obtaining in Uzbekistan, the most populous of Central Asian nations. The attempt to paint the rebellion as pro-Islamicist is a result of the fact that the US finds the current regime in Uzbekistan to be an ally. There is an important US military base in Uzbekistan used for operations in Afghanistan, and Uzbekistan's president being a close ally, it is important for the US propaganda machine to represent their ally's opponents as a bunch of radical Islamic fundamentalists. But what is motivating the rebellion in Uzbekistan is mostly the same kinds of things that motivated people from Serbia, to Georgia and Ukraine, to Kyrgyzstan and hopefully someday both Belarus' and Russia itself. Its really lucky for the people of Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan that their respective pre-revolution leaders--Milosevic, Shervardnadze, Kuchma Akaev--were not US allies, if you know what I mean. . .

Two articles on this:

From Radio Free Europe (RFE), entitled "Uzbekistan: Economic Concerns Primary in Andijon":

From the Eurasian Daily Monitor, entitled, "Masses Reject Charges of Islamic Extremism":

2) About an Uzbeki opposition journalist's arrest, from RFE:

Check out the links to other articles you will find on the RFE pages.

Eurasia is a frustrated region of the world whose webs of government power, grassroots sentiment, and Western and Russian power are anything but simple and clear cut: the interesting thing to think about is why did protest lead to massacre here; and why isn't the US strongly condemning the massacre and strongly lauding the opposition, and instead sees its pundits making a stink of fundamentalism.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Slavko,
As promised, I am responding to your email here in the comment area. Yes there has been a lag in my writing, and I take to heart your words cautioning me about loosing readers if I don't regularly update my blog. Oh well, to zhyttja! I was preoccupied for a while with the death of my aunt and a trip to visit relatives in another state whom I have not seen since returning from Ukraine.

However, I am working on a few pieces that I hope to post this weekend.

About your questions concerning the Zvarych piece I did, especially regarding how much contact I had with expats and diaspora while in Ukraine--you are correct to notice that I had only remote contact here and there with the diaspora/expat community, and did what few expats and diaspora do while in Ukraine: actually live in a small town or village where I was the only non-Ukrainian around (that expats don't do this makes sense for obvious reasons, but there should be many more diaspora who do). I spent most of my 8 months living in Pidhajtsi, a small town of 7,000, and some time otherwise in Lviv and Kyiv (where I had contact with the expat/diaspora community), and Poltava.

In fact, I have yet to meet a diaspora Ukrainian who has actually lived in the small towns or villages, although I am sure that they are out there, but only on a hunch: I have not yet heard a single story about a diaspora Ukrainian who actually lived in a small town and or village instead of just visiting. On the other hand, I did meet some Western expats and heard stories of many who did actually live in villages and small towns. They were all involved with some program, either Peace Corps or doing some other project. This is very interesting.

And so one other thing: I was hanging out with a diaspora Ukrainian and his buddies once in a big city when some Western expat had this to say: "Life doesn't get worse anywhere than it does in a Ukrainian village." I steamed silently. For sure, life in a small town, almost anywhere in the world, is no paradise, especially for someone with ubran tastes and prejudices (and it was very hard for me to live in Pidhatjsi at times, but for reasons completely other than the standard of living, which didn't bother me at all). Nonetheless this guy's statement exhibits precisely the attitude that I think is very, very damaging and of which my Zvarych piece was meant to criticize, especially since it was geared toward whining about the living conditions and the standard of living, and toward being so releived to be in a big town. I was disgusted. (Not to say that this was Zvarych's attitude--if you are just reading this comment, you must check out the piece itself below).

Us'oho najkrashchoho