21 october 2017
Central Asia news
"Open Journalism in Central Asia" Media Conference organised by Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) starts today in Tashkent, which will discuss issues of freedom of the media. This event, expected for fifteen years, can rightly be considered a breakthrough in relations between Uzbekistan and the international journalistic community. However, a recent arrest of our Tashkent colleague Bobomurod Abdullayev overshadows the "press freedom festival," so rare for the whole region.
Sometimes, good news keeps on coming from Uzbekistan: journalist and human rights activist Solizhon Abdurakhmanov freed on 4 October, who spent more than nine years in prison on a fabricated charge. Abdurakhman Tashanov, representative of the human rights society "Ezgulik" informed Fergana about it.
The atmosphere in Uzbekistan is changing; breathing is becoming freer. A more biting press is emerging, the previously crushed and cornered public is reviving, and the authorities loudly declare adherence to universal human rights. A sudden and secret arrest of journalist Bobomurod Abdullayev in Tashkent against the background of the events described above makes us think about how much the authorities of the country are sincere in their intentions.
The first three weeks of the barely started cotton season in Uzbekistan has already claimed lives of four people. However, since 21 September Uzbek officials are fulfilling the Prime Minister's order prohibiting taking state employees to cotton fields. What made the Uzbek government dramatically change its policy towards using forced labour in agriculture? And is it the end of the long-standing and humiliating "cotton slavery" in the country?
If the presidential elections in Kyrgyzstan, scheduled on 15 October, would have conducted today the clear winner would be Omurbek Babanov. The charismatic, strong-willed and young politician, he has the advantage above all his competitors. And first of all far from the candidate from the party of power Sooronbay Jeenbekov. And it frightens someone. Babanov will become president if the elections are fair, about most independent observers cast huge doubts on including me. Therefore, the vilest method of denigrating a competitor is active - the ethnic.
For more than ten years, a certified doctor, a doctor of medical sciences, a "social hygiene and the organisation of health care" professor has been the President of Turkmenistan. The former Minister of Health should have known all issues of public medicine better. However, health care performance in Turkmenistan is not efficient. Fergana observer Atajan Nepesov testifies.
Human rights defender Bahrom Khamroev was born in Uzbekistan, but since 1992 he lives in Russia. Working for the Moscow-based Memorial Centre Bahrom oversees issues related to the protection of the civil rights of fellow countrymen and migrant workers who have arrived from other Central Asia republics in Russia, in particular, trying to prevent them from forced deportation of them to their homeland.
On 12 September, the District Court in Bishkek sentenced journalist Zulpukar Sapanov to four years in prison finding him guilty of "inciting inter-religious hostility". Sapanov wrote and published the "Kydyr sanjyrasy" (literal translation - "Genealogy of the forefather Kydyr") book in which the author merely noted that once in the ancient times the Kyrgyz were not Muslims.
As Fergana previously reported, Interpol supposedly removed the names of the Uzbek opposition leader Muhammad Salih and his younger brother Maksud Bekzhan from its wanted list. Salih himself had talked about this to a BBC journalist. Fergana’s Editor-in-chief editor Daniil Kislov spoke to the poli-tician himself to get his own comment.
For the first time, the priest of the Orthodox parish is in the court charged with the violation of the law “On Religious Activities and Religious Associations.” In the village of Merke (Zhambyl region of Kazakhstan) on 14 August, Vladimir Vorontsov, the rector of the parish of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God Church, stood the first trial. An anonymous tip-off reported police that he, along with children from the Orthodox group of the weekend (Sunday school) and several parents conducted prayer meetings in the mountains.
The 19th Central Asia media conference named “Open Journalism in Central Asia” organised by the office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media will be held in Tashkent on 18-19 October 2017. It is expected that participants, “including journalists, representatives from governments, civil society organisations and academia from Central Asia and Mongolia along with international experts will discuss current challenges to media freedom in Central Asia and Mongolia” including “current trends in news media distribution and challenges related to the digital and increasingly mobile environment, and how to better safeguard media freedom whilst combatting hate speech,” as well as “the latest media freedom developments and best practices,” the OSCE website informs.
The President of Kyrgyzstan once again celebrates his victory. Almazbek Atambayev could manage to outdo his predecessors in his state post: he practically neutralised the opposition, divided civil and journalistic society, squeezed out dissenters from the country, he simply slandered the most “stubborn” media and human rights activists.
Dictator’s relatives. Nephew of late Islam Karimov granted refugee status in Ukraine escaping extradition to Uzbekistan