Hizb ut-Tahrir stepping up efforts

by Nathan Hamm on 8/29/2003

Hizb ut-Tahrir stepping up efforts
RFE-RL reports in its weekly Central Asia briefing that Hizb ut-Tahrir (Party of Liberation) is reportedly stepping up its efforts in Kyrgyztan and Tajikistan.

Some excerpts:

…discoveries of new caches of extremist
leaflets, books, and magazines during the first half of 2003 had led
to1,500 people being put under observation by law-enforcement
agencies. A week later in Bishkek, First Deputy Prime Minister
Kurmanbek Osmonov, who doubles as justice minister, told an
international conference titled “Society Against Crime and Terrorism”
that Hizb ut-Tahrir wanted to seize power in Kyrgyzstan and had been
expanding what he called “its spying and propaganda activities” to
achieve this goal (see “RFE/RL Newsline,” 22 August 2003). The group
was recruiting mostly young people and trying to discredit the
government by presenting its members as “prisoners of conscience,
persecuted by the authorities for their religious beliefs,” he said
as quoted by Interfax.
He asserted the illegal party had also partnered with the
banned Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and unspecified Uighur
separatists, who were now working together to spread radical ideas,
terror, sabotage, and subversion. Even more sensationally, Osmonov
announced, “The Hizb ut-Tahrir party is establishing links with some
human rights activists and opposition members in Kyrgyzstan,” the
newspaper “Vechernii Bishkek” reported on 22 August. These dangerous
developments had been allowed to happen, he inferred, because “our
legislation is too liberal and our security agencies are too poorly
coordinated for the activities of religious and extremist
organizations to be curbed effectively.” The solution flowed with
deceptive ease from his definition of the problem: Tighter control
and more efficient security organs.

The mention of Hizb ut-Tahrir establishing ties with human rights
groups is especially interesting, and, I would surmise, highly
probable. Persecution of the group’s members is common in Central Asia
as it advocates the creation of a new caliphate, which it says should
be achieved by peaceful means. The continuing intolerance for anything
outside of the state’s control throughout Central Asia, especially if
it is Islamic and opposed to current regimes, may be driving Hizb
ut-Tahrir into the arms of the IMU and Uighur groups. Claims that these
groups are working together should be treated with skepticism until
proven as Central Asian governments are now using HT as their current
scapegoat for every problem under the sun. At the same time, Human
Rights groups should be careful about getting in bed with a group that
supports a new caliphate for a lot of fairly obvious reasons.
The other notable thing about this report is that it points to HT activities rising in northern Kyrgyzstan.
Historically, the group has been most popular in the rugged southern
regions and in the heavily Uzbek border areas of the Ferghana Valley.
It would be very interesting to know whether or not activists nabbed in
northern Kyrgyzstan are from there or are outreach from the south.

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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