Sunshine Coalition Letter to Secretary Rice

by Nathan Hamm on 6/15/2005 · 10 comments

TRIBUNE-uz carries a long letter from Sanjar Umarov, Chairman of the Sunshine Coalition, to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Secretary Rice, today in Uzbekistan a totalitarian shadow hangs over any public expression of dissent. This dark fear of repression is causing our people to turn inward, and this plays into the hands of the extremists who thrive in the shadows. Sunshine Uzbekistan, in contrast, stands for lightness. We are tirelessly working for the creation of a public space where all individuals, groups, movements and parties dedicated to the creation of a free and democratic Uzbekistan can come together and openly discuss and share their programs for building a better future for our children and grandchildren.

Despite the current government’s criminal responsibility for the loss of life in Andijan, Sunshine Uzbekistan calls on all citizens of the Republic of Uzbekistan to support and defend our Constitution. And, in the defense of our Constitution, we present the following program for resolving the current political crisis.

1. President Karimov must immediately dismiss the current Government and Parliament.

2. President Karimov must immediately appoint a new Government to be comprised of representatives from all democratic opposition parties and movements.

3. In the event that a new Government is constituted with broad authority over all economic and political spheres, President Karimov may remain in control of the Army and Security Service.

4. The new Government will be tasked with producing a program for economic and political reforms within 90 days of its investiture.

5. A Political Amnesty for all individuals, parties and movements that renounce the use of violence will be in effect from the moment of the new Government’s formation.

6. Amendments to the Constitution will be submitted for a National Referendum that shall include, but not be limited to, the election of a new Parliament in 2006.

Sunshine Uzbekistan has great respect for the role that the US Government can take in helping the citizen’s of Uzbekistan resolve the current political crisis. We therefore look forward to establishing a mutually respectful relationship with your authorized representatives.

These goals are kind of pie in the sky at the moment, and I strongly caution against anyone thinking that the Sunshine Coalition/Free Peasants Party is the voice of the democratic opposition, widely popular, or ready to assume power. However, they have shown quite a bit of vigor over the last month, and certainly are worth keeping an eye on.

Update: From the BBC:

Sunshine Uzbekistan is still a somewhat mysterious group.

I’ll say… They are fairly new and unknown.


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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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{ 10 comments }

Katy June 15, 2005 at 10:13 am

Sunshine UZ gets my vote for best name.

Nathan June 15, 2005 at 10:15 am

Technically it’s “My Sunny Uzbekistan” I think. Thank goodness they decided not to translate it literally…

Kisa June 15, 2005 at 1:41 pm

SO, they are actually not calling for the resignation of Karimov? I think that this explains everything!

Cameron June 15, 2005 at 6:10 pm

Sunshine Uzbekistan is the creation of the Uzbek Government. I just returned from Tashkent, I spoke with several people there. I am pretty much sure, its Karimov behind this association.

Nathan June 15, 2005 at 6:16 pm

Well, just like I’m cautious about them, I’m cautious about statements like that too. Especially if you don’t mention who the “several people” are.

Kisa June 15, 2005 at 10:13 pm

To be honest, I have to agree with Cameron. Considering how cautious the Sunshine Coalition has been with their statements in terms of not blaming Karimov for anything, shows a lot. Umarov never was in opposition, and his words in regards to the word “opposition” is that such word does not exist in the vocabulary. Why such a change all of the sudden? Considering how his business was blooming, while nobody else could prosper, the fact that he was running Uzdunrobita, and the fact that he is freely making statements and noone harasses him (as oppose to other oppositions), it makes it very clear whose side he really is.
P.S. Just a food for thought, he never really finished college, when he got his PhD is still a mystery to me, and the fact that he says that his wife is PhD in arts, is a total BS, she is a housewife, who never attended university. Her degree was bought (which as many of you know is very easy to do in Uzbekistan) You make the conclusions

Nathan June 15, 2005 at 10:35 pm

Well, I’m skeptical both ways. They have plenty of reason to be cautious, and Karimov has been more tolerant of political opposition groups the past few years (after all, they aren’t very effective…). Though there has been harrassment of Sunshine members the past few weeks.

Also, I try to avoid post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacies. There are myriad reasons for people’s political behavior/changes of heart/etc and I’m not going to fill in the blanks myself. Changes of heart have happened elsewhere in the region. Culturally, I know we look at politics and politicians differently. I’m not saying that Umarov or anyone from the coalition is worth trusting–I’m not convinced myself–but I can almost guarantee you that whoever comes after Karimov will be an elite with some kind of tie to old power networks. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Not calling for Karimov to resign could just be plain old political realism though.

Bertrand June 16, 2005 at 9:48 am

I think Nathan’s instincts are correct here. It does remain unclear exactly where Umarov is headed and from whence he comes. At the same time, the letter to Secretary Rice is pretty strong – not the sort of thing Karimov would likely beard.

One has to be careful in terms of “talking to people”. Opposition groups here – not atypically for “transitional” countries – spend a lot of their time kicking dirt on one another. Almost every one of them accuses the others of being pawns of the government.

I suspect time will tell on this one. Nathan is correct in being “skeptical both ways.”

I think we have to wait and see.

Kisa June 16, 2005 at 2:18 pm

I think that we waited long enough, in terms of being patient with Karimov, in terms of not supporting the opposition like we did in Georgia and Ukraine. The result…Andijan Massacre.

Sardor July 30, 2005 at 11:02 pm

Came upon this site while searching in google for Sunshine Uzbekistan. I am a Uzbek myself, living in the States since the mid 90s. Came I still visit the country ever summer and winter.
Have been reading up on the Sunshine Coalition since they formed in April. I know Mr. Umarov personally.
It was stated here “Why such a change all of the sudden? Considering how his business was blooming, while nobody else could prosper, the fact that he was running Uzdunrobita, and the fact that he is freely making statements and noone harasses him (as oppose to other oppositions), it makes it very clear whose side he really is.”

Umarov established Uzdunrobita in 1991. He was not the owner of the copmany. The ownership of the copmany changed several times before it was sold to the presidents daughter in 2002.

“freely making statements and noone harasses him” – The goverment does harrass them. Please check the links for more info. http://www.freeuz.org/eng/news/?id1=622&PHPSESSID=669936f9a44025b23174b86bbc81de2d
http://www.freeuz.org/eng/news/?id1=624&PHPSESSID=669936f9a44025b23174b86bbc81de2d
The governtment paralyzed the 5 company’s which are owned by Umarov’s close relatives.

“P.S. Just a food for thought, he never really finished college, when he got his PhD is still a mystery to me, and the fact that he says that his wife is PhD in arts, is a total BS, she is a housewife, who never attended university. Her degree was bought (which as many of you know is very easy to do in Uzbekistan) You make the conclusions”
Who is your source for your statements? I know for a fact that he got his PhD and that his wife did also. And no, his wife, Indira Umarov, did not buy it. At the time she got it the Umarov family had no businesses and could not afford to spend money on things like that.

For more information visit their site. It is updated almost everyday. http://www.sunshineuzbekistan.org

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