RSF Annual Reports

by Nathan Hamm on 5/3/2005 · 1 comment

It being press freedom and all, check out Reporters Without Borders’ reports on Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan. Based on the scorecard at the bottom of the Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan reports, it looks like Azeri journalists found themselves in more trouble in 2004 than Uzbek ones did. However, I would guess that is because Azerbaijan has something of an opposition press that criticizes the government fairly vocally.

While it’s not my intention to downplay the lack of freedom in Central Asian media, I do think that RSF’s tone provides a good opportunity to bang my head against the wall and wonder why it is apparently impossible to both be critical of the governments in question while also acknowledging that maybe Islamic extremism is something worth worrying about. Take, for example, the paragraph on Islam Karimov on the Predators of Press Freedom page. The second sentence there is ridiculous. Fear of Islamists is genuine and Karimov certainly doesn’t need any excuse to do what he wants (after all, what’s Turkmenbashi’s?). And as near as I can tell, he doesn’t have any kind of international immunity beyond what heads of state typically have regardless of whether or not they host US troops. And the line in the Uzbekistan report about Karimov blaming Hizb ut-Tahrir for last year’s bombings is a well-perpetuated mistranslation.

I know it’s a common refrain around here, but there’s much more to be gained by willing to take seriously and try to work with these governments. They certainly aren’t the stereotypes they are made out to be.


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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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{ 1 comment }

Matt May 4, 2005 at 5:00 pm

Here, here.

I respect the organisation, but it gets on its high horse about western democracies such as France creating legislation requiring journalists to reveal their sources in court. They don’t seem to live in the real world. If civil liberties were given to half the countries on the planet, it would be anarchy not eutopia.

And they seem to think Gadaffi is such a predator they mentioned him twice…..tsk!

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