Uzbekistan is a country in Central Asia that is rich in oil, gas, gold and cotton but also heavily authoritarian. It has the largest population of the Central Asian countries and also the largest armed forces.
Uzbekistan was formerly a part of the Soviet Union and became independent in 1991. Since then the government has become highly authoritarian, under the dictatorship of Islam Karimov, and ripe with human rights abuses, with the use of torture described as “systematic” (BBC Uzbekistan Country Profile). The media is also largely controlled by the State.
Following September 11th, Uzbekistan allowed the US to have a military base in Uzbekistan, which facilitated access to Afghanistan.
Historically, Uzbekistan was known for its rich cultural and trade centers along the Silk Road, including Bukhara and Samarkand.
Facts: from BBC Country Pages
- Population: 27.5 million (UN, 2009)
- Capital: Tashkent
- Area: 447,400 sq km (172,700 sq miles)
- Major language: Uzbek, Russian, Tajik
- Major religion: Islam
- Life expectancy: 65 years (men), 71 years (women) (UN)
- Monetary unit: 1 Uzbek som = 100 tiyins
- Main exports: Cotton, gold, natural gas, mineral fertilizers, ferrous metals, textiles, motor vehicles
- GNI per capita: US $910 (World Bank, 2008)
Information from BBC Uzbekistan Country Profile. For full page: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/country_profiles/1238242.stm
History and Politics:
NewEurasia Blog on Uzbekistan– blog entries about culture, life, politics and society in Uzbekistan.
This website provides information about Uzbek Culture; such as food, art, dress, traditions, festivals, and music.
Site that includes comprehensive information on Uzbekistan including history, politics, culture and economics.
Crafts: Crafts are still an important part ofUzbek culture including embroidery, carpet weaving, wood carving, calligraphy and miniature painting.
Tyubiteika: small hat made of silk, cotton or velvet fabrics. It is worn for holidays, religious functions and in the summer to protect the head from the sun.
International Organizations in Uzbekistan:
The OSCE maintains a presence in Uzbekistan which focuses on maintaing OSCE principles, help ensure security and stability, promote socio-economic development, protection of environment and development of co-operation between Uzbekistan and the OSCE.
The Country Office in Uzbekistan focuses on economic governance and poverty reduction, reforms to raise living standards, develop stronger understanding of national legislation and international human rights standards, strengthen quality of legal services, natural resources management and environment protection.
Uzbekistan state and NGO reports to different UN bodies:
Most Recent Concluding Observations from UN Treaty Bodies:
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
Concluding observations (2010)
Committee on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women
Concluding observations (2010)
Committee on the Rights of the Child
Concluding observations (2006)
Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Concluding observations (2006)
Human Rights Committee
Concluding observations (2005)
Most Recent Reports from the UN-Secretary General:
News and Articles:
Internet Enemies: from Reporters without Borders
The Uzbekistan authorities impose heavy internet censorship, in a country already lacking many independent media outlets. Though the Uzbek Constitution guarantees free access to information, the Law on the Principles and Guarantees of Freedom of Information allows the government to do what it deems necessary to protect against negative information. Authorities justify censorship as necessary to protect national security.
Court Imposes Heavy Fine on Independent Reporter: (October 2010) from Reporters Without Borders
Abdulmalik Boboyev, one of the few indepenent reporters left in Uzbekistan was charged with defamation, insult and threatening public order and was fined $10,000. Uzbekistan authorities view independent media as a threat to their authority and the regime.
Inmates at Uzbekistan’s Zhaslyq Prison have been on a hunger strike to protest poor treatment at the prison. Many of these prisoners are in jail for religious extremist activity. This prison is known as “the place of no return”.
Uzbekistan: Chinese Goods Inundating Central Asia, but Local Crafts Endure by Joanna Lillis (September 2010)
China is Uzbekistan’s second largest trader, behind Russia, but despite a flood of Chinese goods in Uzbekistan one can still find local crafts.
In Pictures: Negative Pictures of Uzbekistan? (February 2010) by Rayhan Demytrie
Pictures by Uzbek photographer Umida Akhedova capture scenes of everyday life, but the Uzbek authorities believe they paint a negative picture of the State.
German NGO Pursues Uzbek Human Rights Complaint with EU Cotton Traders (October 2010) by Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
A German NGO targets EU Cotton Traders that benefit from Uzbek exploitation of child labor in the cotton industry. Despite legislation against child labor, children continue to be taken out of school and forced to pick cotton. Several companies including Walmart and Target are taking part in the boycott of Uzbek cotton.
For Exploited Uzbek Farmers, High Cotton Prices Only Enrich Overlords (October, 2010) by Ron Synovitz
The Uzbek Government defines low prices each year for cotton, independent of the international market price thus locking farmers into a feudal like agricultural system and allowing “Cotton Barons” to become richer. It is compulsory for Uzbek cotton farmers to sell their cotton to a state-controlled company, not on the free market, preventing farmers from receiving fair prices for their cotton.
Uzbekistan: Uranium Mining Town Draws Tashkent Glitterati (October 2010) by Murat Sadykov
“Officials in Uzbekistan have relentlessly tried to erase vestiges of the Soviet era in the Central Asian nation, pulling down statues and renaming districts as if decades of Communist rule never happened. Yangiobod, a former uranium mining town in the Tashkent Region, appears to be an exception to the Uzbek revisionist rule, however (Uzbekistan: Uranium Mining Town Draws Tashkent Glitterati, 2010).”
Gasoline Shortage Persists in Uzbekistan (November 2010) Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
Gasoline Shortages have worsened in Uzbekistan leading to long lines at the gas pump and gas stations closing on Sundays. Catherine A. Fitzpatrick, reports on the shortage and its possible causes.
Uzbekistan Celebrates Independence Day (September 2010) by Murat Sadykov
“Uzbekistan celebrated its independence on September 1. But for many Uzbeks, independence is not to be confused with freedom” (Uzbekistan Celebrates Independence Day).
IWPR works with reporters, freelancers, human rights groups and editors to “strengthen reporting and advocacy” and “investigate and debate conflict issues through publications, radio broadcasts, and public roundtables and conferences”. Their work in Central Asia is especially focused on Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, who are the most repressive towards media freedoms.