the Disillusioned kid: The Uzbek Revolution? Part 1.
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Sunday, May 15, 2005

The Uzbek Revolution? Part 1.

With exams looming, I still don't have much time to post. I couldn't not comment, however, on events in Uzbekistan, a country which has been an ongoing focus here for sometime.

According to reports peaceful protests gathered in the city of Andijan on Friday in an anti-government demonstration which may have numbered as many as 10,000. While in itself a positive response, the government response was much less so and saw troops open fire on demonstrators, killing as many as 500 according to a doctor in the town. Islam Karimov sought to blame the violence on the protesters who he accused (as is his wont with any dissent) on Islamic fundamentalists, hoping to frame the killing as a justifiable part of the west's "War on Terror". There were subsequent reports of violence between armed men and government forces in the nearby town of Tefektosh.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw responded to events by calling for democratic change in the Central Asian republic, asserting "there has been a clear abuse of human rights, a lack of democracy and a lack of openness." The country's foreign ministry were dismissive of Straw's remarks, suggesting that he did not have the whole story and that the shooting of protesters had never happened.

Meanwhile, the British Ambassador to Uzbekistan demonstrated just how spineless he is compared with his predecessor (the incorrigible Craig Murray) by calling on "all sides" to "show restraint" as if this was an even contest in which both sides were equally in the wrong. Imagine if Slobodan Milosevic had retained enough control over his armed forces to have them fire on protesters during the bloodless revolution that removed him from power. Would the British government have called on "all sides" to "show restraint" then? Of course not, it would have been universally deplored (quite rightly) and used as further evidence to justify the NATO bombing of Serbia.

Lenin points to the contrast between the way this uprising, against a friendly regime, and the rose, orange, chesnut and ash "revolutions" in Georgia, Ukraine, Lebanon and Kyrgzstan have been greeted by our social superiors. "This, " he notes, "is one revolution that won't be branded." He's right of course Uzbek resistance to the brutality of the Karimov regime doesn't fit into the neo-con scheme which serves as a reminder of how vacuous so much of the rhetoric about "freedom" really is.

No doubt more will follow as and when I have time.

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