Uzgen PCV’s Complaint

by Laurence on 3/9/2005 · 1 comment

From Ferghana.Ru
Here is a report on Uzgen as it is drafted by an anonymous American volunteer from the Peace Corps. The report was apparently meant for executives of the organization. Ferghana.Ru news agency laid its hands on it quite by chance but entirely legitimately.

I have seen many fights break out in the center of town (including several involving dozens of people at once). Gangs of young men wander the streets (including in front of my house) fighting and screaming long into the night. I do not – and would never – go out at night (and neither would most members of my host family). The events of fourteen years ago are still very much on people’s lips (I have learned details of the slaughter that would make most people go quite pale). Several weeks ago a friend of mine (a mini-bus driver) was beaten to death by one of my neighbors in the early evening as several other men stood by and watched (there is a cultural acceptance of retribution in this city – I have even seen police officers stand by and watch a fight unfold). I only include these details because they are characteristic of the attitude toward violence in this city. Women in particular are targeted by very aggressive attitudes here (ask either Naomi or Amy about this, both of whom are very hesitant about visiting Uzgen). In addition, there is a clear and present tension between the Uzbeks and the Kyrgyz, which is heightened by a real or perceived employment discrimination against the Uzbeks within all of the professional and semi-professional industries (banking, government, engineering, construction, etc.).

Subscribe to receive updates from Registan

This post was written by...

– author of 618 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

For information on reproducing this article, see our Terms of Use

{ 1 comment }

Nathan March 9, 2005 at 9:41 am

The complaints about language are pretty similar to the ones we always had in Uzbekistan. I was lucky going in with a little bit of Russian. They taught me Uzbek so I knew enough of each to get by. In my group, all of the university and business volunteers were taught Russian. In the next, everyone started with Uzbek and then switched to the most appropriate language when they’d reached a certain level and knew their site. The government put a lot of pressure on PC to teach Uzbek even though the volunteers went to Tajik, Russian, Karakalpak, and Khorezmcha speaking locations.

It also looks like the Kyrgyz government puts a lot of political pressure on Peace Corps with site placement as well. I suppose that the PC staff could have been trying to chap ass by putting a volunteer in a mostly Kyrgyz school in an Uzbek area. Knowing full well that one of my students will likely see this, I have to say that the Academic Lyceum I taught at was a bad place for a volunteer. It was a heavily politicized environment. After I decided to look for a new school, my Program Manager let me know that they had been under pressure to put volunteers in these new Lyceums all over the country and that the experience was almost uniformly negative.

As for the rest of it, well, I can’t say I saw the same stuff or experienced quite the same types of abuse, but it wasn’t unheard of in Uzbekistan.

Previous post:

Next post: