…it will be a bloody mess

by Gene Daniels on 6/15/2010 · 67 comments

I once met an Uzbek political scientist from Tashkent who was visiting Osh. Among many other things we discussed the potential for violence in the Ferghana valley.

I was arguing the position that post-Soviet Central Asians did not appear to be violent people and that I doubted the potential for wide-spread social violence in the Ferghana valley.

Eventually he said something that chilled my heart and bears repeating in light of the recent events in Osh:

“You foreigners don’t know us. You look at us with rose-colored glasses. We are mean. We can be evil and brutal to each other. If the lid comes off this valley, or if Karimov dies in Uzbekistan, it will be a bloody mess.”

I have thought about this chance encounter many times since that day in 2005. And while I still love and trust my many Central Asian friends, of several different nationalities, I must admit that this man probably knew his own people better than I, the outsider. I can only hope and pray that what just happened in Osh is an anomoly, because otherwise this could get really ugly.


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{ 67 comments }

Sarah June 15, 2010 at 9:58 pm

As I have stated on numerous occasions, there is an enormous difference between tension — or frustration, or grudges, or resentment, or even hatred — and the kind of brutal violence that we have witnessed in Kyrgyzstan over the past few weeks. Everywhere you go, people are mean. Everywhere you go, people can be brutal and evil. Most of the time, they don’t riot and kill each other. In post-Soviet Central Asia, this has almost never happened. Central Asia’s great problem is corruption and oppressive leadership, not mass violence.

When Niyazov died, a lot of people predicted chaos in Turkmenistan. Instead, one dictator was replaced with another, and the oppression goes on — quietly. This is the real danger of Central Asia — the quiet, pervasive oppression of authoritarian rule and the social, economic and political problems that go with it.

Will there be violence in Uzbekistan when Karimov is gone? Maybe, maybe not. But what you heard from your political scientist friend is not some secret revelation revealed to you, the newly initiated foreigner. The negative tone reflects the generally cynical, pessimistic nature of much of Uzbek political discourse. To quote the Uzbek poet Yusuf Juma (currently jailed by the Karimov regime), “O’zbek o’zbekdan bezor”. Uzbeks are fed up with Uzbeks. People are fed up with people, people are fed up with the way their lives are going and the direction their country is headed. Some, like Juma, are a little more blunt about this than others, and I would argue that this intense self-criticism and cynicism is perhaps more notable in Uzbek political culture. But cynicism is not the same as violent behavior, and saying a dire prediction does not make it come true.

A final point — it is insulting to try to discern whether an entire people are “violent” or “non-violent”. It is especially inflammatory to imply this about Central Asians when this stereotype gets dug up again and again. On the other hand, it is also insulting to expect some sort of rosy political forecast from people well-versed in rough times. Let’s treat Central Asians more like individuals with their own perspectives and less like fortune-tellers or masters of some sort of elaborate charade.

Michael Hancock June 16, 2010 at 1:54 am

Agreed. Sarah, I think your most salient point is Turkmenistan, where minorities were treated very poorly under Turkmenbashi (to say nothing of current treatment). If the Uzbeks of northern Turkmenistan didn’t turn on their neighbors or vice-versa, what does that say about tension and ethnic inequality?

Metin June 17, 2010 at 9:39 am

Ms Kendzior,

you happen to understand Uzbek as you’re quoting a verse of Uzbek poet about ‘oppression’ of Uzbeks in Uzbekistan. But you failed to mention about Uzbek minorities in Central Asian countries who are really fed up with everyday discrimination and humiliation.

Experts in Central Asia were preoccupied with ‘brutal Uzbek regime’ and paid little attention to the rise ethnic chauvinism in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Even now, some seam to passionately expect violence to happen in Uzbekistan, forgetting ethnic riots similar to Kyrgyzstan might happen in Kazakhstan or Tajikistan.

I think experts (including you) deserve a lot of criticism for failing to foresee possibility of latest events – so far they’ve been moderately good at analyzing history, but not drawing right conclusions.

davejon June 17, 2010 at 12:05 pm

Metin, i disagree with you, the violence and refugees should not be a legitimization of Uzbekistan’s politics.

Metin June 18, 2010 at 1:45 pm

davejon,

I agree with your point, but disagree with inference you made on what I said.

Researchers were useless in predicting violence in Kyrgyzstan and that is the point. So far they delivered dubious assessments bordering on wishful thinking (e.g. anticipation of violence in Uzbekistan, while turning deaf ears to brewing violence in rest of Central Asian countries). I think it is time for those funding research to question quality of research on Central Asia. So far, research seem to have been over-concentrated on politicized issues like Karimov/Andijan.

Gene Daniels June 15, 2010 at 10:05 pm

Sarah,

You wrote, “As I have stated on numerous occasions, there is an enormous difference between tension — or frustration, or grudges, or resentment, or even hatred — and the kind of brutal violence that we have witnessed in Kyrgyzstan over the past few weeks”

Is there really? What are grudges, resentment, and hatred except unexpressed violence. Given the right opportunity, a man’s deeds flow out of the abundance of his heart.

And no, what that man told me that day was not a mystical secret, but it was a penetrating observation of someone that has seen people in Central Asia closer and longer than either of us. I don’t make him out to be a fortune-teller, but I do perceive him as a window.

Da June 15, 2010 at 10:18 pm

Wanted to reply, but realized that Sarah has done a much better job. Thank you.

People can be violent everywhere, one objective difference between Central Asians and the Westerners might be a higher percentage of young unemployed teenagers/man. It has been reported in several anthropological studies that proportion of young man in the population has a positive correlation with amount of violent acts perpetrated.

Sarah June 15, 2010 at 11:05 pm

“What are grudges, resentment, and hatred except unexpressed violence?” They are grudges, resentment, and hated – nothing more. They are normal, common emotions that are often understandable reactions to terrible circumstances. To be bitter or hateful does not make you violent. Most of us — and that includes people in Central Asia — can reign in our impulses to act violently on our feelings.

The main thing that bothers me about your argument is that you are using this Uzbek political scientist as the stand-in for an entire people and their evaluation of their situation. Imagine a guy from Uzbekistan visits me, an anthropologist, and says, “I’ve heard about racial tension in America, but everyone seems so nice!” And I say, “Oh sure, we seem that way, but someone from the Tea Party will probably take out Obama, and then there will be race violence, and eventually the country will plunge into a race war. It’s bound to happen — it’s the American way!” And he goes back and tells everyone that this is what’s going to happen, because this American social scientist has been in America longer and hung out with Americans more than any Uzbek. Never mind that plenty of other Americans would have a completely different perspective. I would be the authority because I’m the American he happened to meet, and my hyberbolic doomsday prophecy would be filed as fact.

Da, thank you for your comment and I think you bring up an important point. I hope someone looks into that topic in more depth, as I’m sure it played a role in the recent violence in Kyrgystan.

CB June 15, 2010 at 11:45 pm

As I posted below the previous article:

Recipe: A rapidly increasing population in a poor/economically depressed country, 54% of the male population under 25, thriving drug/black market economy and the violent means often employed as part of the business strategy, weak central authority (additionally the government has just changed hands in a coup with associated winners and losers and a continuing struggle for power), fairly clear ethnic divisions with a minority population that is seen as relatively better off by the majority… all it needs is a match.

Young men with few prospects for generating sufficient income through normal work are a volatile substrate.”

Many of these conditions are not, of course, unique to Kyrgyzstan, but a common (but not necessary) ingredient in civil unrest/riots.

There are persistent stories of people in uniform participating in the violence and those in the Uzbek community interviewed by the BBC consistently reiterated their belief the they were attacked by organized groups and implied that there had been pre-planning. This along with the sense that many of those participating were outsiders, not from Osh. The BBC report also confirmed destroyed/burned neighborhoods in the Kyrgyz areas of the city.

Will someone (or some group) rise to take advantage of the chaos – or will there just be more chaos [or I suppose the tension could ease, but that seems less likely, certainly in the near term]? If there was some planning and organization I would expect to see the perpetrators try to take some advantage.

[and no, I am not ‘Christian’]

Gene Daniels June 16, 2010 at 6:37 am

Sarah,

Your argument might make some sense if the political scientist I quoted was the only, or one of the few Central Asians I have met in a study trip to the region.

I lived in Kazakhstan 6 years, and Kyrgyzstan 5+. I have dozens of close friends who are Central Asians. I have spent thousands of hours in their homes and traveling their towns and villages. I do not base my opinion on one political scientist from Tashkent.

And furthermore, you miss the point of my argument (which is my fault for not making it explicit). I am not saying that all Central Asians are violent. None of my friends there are what I would call “violent people.” What I am saying is that there is sufficient inter-ethnic hatred to explain what we have seen in Osh. Sure are other factors, perhaps even politically motivated provocators (sp?), but the ethnic nature of the violence does not surprise me. So no matter what lit the fuse, there was enough hate and racism to be ignited into a bomb.

What does surprise me is the degree to which some people wish to avoid stating the obvious, the horrors that have just unfolded in Osh are ethnic in nature. I seems that whereas the generation of the colonial era was unbalanced in seeing all local people as bad, the latest generation has swung the opposite direction and cannot see any evil in the local population.

No, “all” Central Asians are not mean-spirited, violent people. But it is pretty obvious that more than a few are in Osh.

BTW – CB’s comments below seem to me right on

Grant June 15, 2010 at 11:15 pm

The statement by the U.N puts the number of refugees at about 275,000, 200,000 internal and 75,000 fleeing the country. It doesn’t give a breakdown but I think it’s safe to assume that the majority of the refugees are Uzbek or Tajik*. Considering the number dead (a little less than 200 I believe) I’d say this is a textbook example of the asymmetric nature of terror.

As for Da’s comment, it’s hardly strange. The same thing has been noticed in a lot of the developing world, especially the Middle East.

*Is it Tajik or Tajiki?

Michael Hancock June 16, 2010 at 1:55 am

Unless you start writing O’zbek instead of Uzbek, you’re probably fine using Tajik instead of Tajiki.

Grant June 16, 2010 at 3:40 pm

We really need to start investigating global languages and global spellings, if only so that I don’t have to keep reminding professors that I didn’t misspell a dictator’s name.

Michael Hancock June 16, 2010 at 4:56 pm

Well, I’m still on the fence as to whether it’s Nazarbaev or Nazarbayev in English. I prefer without the y, but I understand why it is there.

Metin June 16, 2010 at 1:51 am

Extremism, be it nationalist or religious, is to blame. All other factors named here are secondary.

Everywhere, extremist are mean people, ready to kill people. In Uzbekistan, they did some good job eliminating extremists, however on heavy costs of civic liberties. Trade-offs are there, of course. But, at times human lives are more important than certain liberties.

Vicious ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan was a shock for experts. Most of them have been anticipating instability in Uzbekistan, they oversaw the rise of nationalism in Kyrgyzstan, looking at events as someone put through rosy glasses. Maybe now it is time for experts to question whether they were over-concentrating on wrong subject?

Turgai Sangar June 16, 2010 at 2:26 am

“Extremism, be it nationalist or religious, is to blame.”

So-called ‘religious extremism’ had no part in this.

For years, we had all these reports and scenarios that evil ‘Islamic extremists’ (read: Hizb Ut-Tahrir and the group of Tahir Yuldash) were plotting to set the region ablaze. Now things *are* ablaze, and we see the driving forces behind it: not Islam (which is anti-nationalist by nature) but primitive nationalism (partly Soviet-shaped) and kafir apparatchiks, theri offspring and their criminal cronies. They are the *real* threat to the region.

Now that we’re at it: over the last ten years or so, scores of international donors and local organisation contracted by them ran one or another neo-liberal conflict prevention project. Has anyone noticed the failure of their approach?

tictoc June 16, 2010 at 10:49 pm

For years, internationally-funded neo-communist Islamists have been running projects in this region to recruit so-called believers and eliminate primitive un-Islamic nationalism through religious rule. But, now we see muslims killing muslims in this region. Has anyone noticed the failure of their approach?

Turgai Sangar June 17, 2010 at 6:02 am

“internationally-funded neo-communist Islamists”

Ah yes, I forgot: ‘ze Saudis’ sponsoring ‘ze Wahhabis’ in ‘ze Ferghana valley’-line. SNORK.

Other than that: who encountered more suppression and who took much more personal risk? The sincere Muslims, or the donor- and embassy-supported neo-liberal consultants and mercenary NGOs?

May you find the right path.

tictoc June 17, 2010 at 9:45 pm

May you find … a sense of humor.

I took your own argument, changed the nouns, and you still don’t see the emptiness of your argument? You have more in common with Dick Cheney than I do.

Turgai Sangar June 18, 2010 at 6:05 am

Fine my friend, you’re free to find my points nonsensical yet on what real life field observations can *you* base yourself?

Reader June 16, 2010 at 4:43 am

How can you be sure religious extremists had nothing to do with this?

Tajik authorities condemn Kyrgyz NSS chief for saying the Tajik instigators trained in terrorist camps? Who should one believe?

http://www.ca-news.org/news/410331

Metin June 16, 2010 at 5:01 am

Kyrgyz government officials have zero credibility on informing about violence. Their story is simple – ‘third forces’, ‘bakievs’ are doing all this mess and they are restoring order. However, reports say government forces aided killings.

Gene Daniels June 16, 2010 at 6:40 am

Yeah, I too am getting pretty tired of the “its Bakiev’s fault.” Since he could not even get-up a supporting crowd in Osh when he was there personally, what would make me believe he can control and manipulate things from Belarus like a puppet master?

Samantha June 16, 2010 at 5:36 pm

I have to agree with Greg in that I am tired of hearing that it is Bakiev’s fault. It might be, it might not be. It could be the work of his Maksim and his brother, it might not be. What really gets me is that the Kyrgyz government particularly Baibolov is pinning the violence on somebody else or another group of people because many are not buying the “its Bakiev’s fault.” They need to blame the violence on somebody instead of coming to the realization that they cannot control their own country. Tajikistan is like the little kid that gets picked on during recess.

No one really knows who is responsible at this point if you consider all possibilities.

Going to the main post, I think the political scientist in Tashkent was stating something obvious that many of us tend to ignore and do not want to address: people can be evil and do bad things. One bad apple ruins the bunch. I don’t feel like he was making an excuse for behavior. He was being blunt and gave everyone a reality check that everyone can do bad things. It is just our rage and natural impulses that are suppressed.

Things like this are expected to happen especially in an environment where conditions are ripe for violence. I think I can speak for all of us Central Asian observers, scholars, etc when I say… ‘We knew it was going to happen.’ I was at a lecture in January 2010, where Paul Goble, an ethnographer, said that Bakiev would be gone in three months. He was right.

I never thought the F. Valley was peaceful at all. Granted I only have been studying this region since 2007, but the little bit that I knew at the beginning of my studies showed that this place would be the center of violence if any were to happen.

Reader June 16, 2010 at 6:08 pm

Samantha, you and I do not know who the Kyrgyz government has arrested and we have not witnessed their interrogation. So if their NSS chief implicates Tajiks training in camps, what makes him say so? PG conspiracy or a piece of intel which only he is privy to?

Reader June 18, 2010 at 10:34 am

For the record, in Tajik news Kyrgyz NSS chief denies implicating Tajiks and blames faulty reporting. I stand corrected.

Turgai Sangar June 18, 2010 at 6:25 am

Пока Америка и Россия сражаются за влияние в Кыргызстане, все больше невинных мусульман погибают

http://www.halifat.info/analysis/umma/628-kirgizstan-etnicheskie-pogromi.html

So? June 16, 2010 at 9:20 am

Who cares, as long as the Evil Empire is no more?

CB June 16, 2010 at 9:53 am

Soon the ‘other empire’ will be no more as well, and what then? A period of struggle and chaos approaches. Who cares? Who morns for Rome? History celebrates such constructs and in the next breath condemns them. Consider why that is and you will be able to pose more interesting questions.

Noah June 16, 2010 at 10:47 am

Gene,

The biggest problem I see with the argument you’re making is that you’re lumping all “Central Asians” together. While I agree that mass riots can’t simply be blamed on exiled politicians in Minsk (and I don’t see anyone on this blog making that argument, although a lot of people seem to think that someone is), it’s also not particularly helpful to cast this in terms of whether “Central Asians” are or are not violent, whether we’re talking about “all” of them or “some” of them.

I don’t think it’s necessary to go back over 19th century arguments about the predilications of “hot blooded races” and other such nonsense (and I don’t see you doing that either, don’t get me wrong), but really, making broad generalizations about “Central Asians” isn’t a whole lot more helpful. Ethnic violence, even racist violence, in Osh obalst’ in Kyrgyzstan is NOT the same thing as “racism in Central Asia.” We’re not going to get very far into understanding what made this happen in one particular place at a specific time (and thereby hopefully approach an understanding that might help prevent a tragedy like this from continuing or re-occuring somewhere else) if we rely on arguments prefaced on the assumption that “Central Asians are A ” or “Uzbeks are B” and “Kyrgyz are C.”

The problem with repeating the analysis from “many people I met in Central Asia who say Central Asians are this way” is that, as any of us who have spent much time there have experienced, many people in the former USSR use ethnic or “nationality” based deterministic generalizations to explain EVERYTHING. If I had a dime for every time someone told me “the Uzbeks are this way” and “the Kyrgyz are that way” and “we Central Asians are this way,” I would be–well, a guy with a lot of dimes.

And before someone says that I’m just making a generalization about other people making generalizations, let me say that we’re going to skip the long, long, long historiography discussion about how Russian and Soviet Marxist ethnography and propaganda shaped the way that people talk about groups, nationalities, and the discourse of self and otherness.

And I know that we can run from this and say that this discourse is part of what lays a foundation for racism and ethnic enmity–and I’ll agree with you–but I think the overall point is that in order to understand THIS tragedy at THIS moment, it does us precious little good to talk about how “Central Asia is this way” or “Central Asians” are that way.

I would suggest, though, that we may get much further if we can understand why this violence happened exactly where it did, when it did, and by extension why it DID NOT happen in other places very close by and with similar economic problems and virtually identical demographics.

Obviously the conflict in Osh and Jalal-abad is ethnic in the sense that the sides are defined by ethnicity. Saying, however, that “Uzbeks and Kyrgyz hate each other” is insufficient to explain why this violence happened when, where, and how it did doesn’t mean that people who want a more detailed analysis are denying that ethnicity is a factor in the violence.

Samantha June 16, 2010 at 5:37 pm

I think the statement Gene made at the main post was a blanket one but miscontrued throughout discussion. Humans can be evil. It is not about a generalization of Central Asian folks. Gene didn’t say it, the person he quoted did.

Nick June 16, 2010 at 1:42 pm

As I’ve watched the events in Kyrgyzstan with ever increasing horror, I’m struck by the similarities with Kenya in 2007/08 when, following a hotly disputed election, the country went to hell in a handcart, manifesting itself in attacks and massacres quickly labelled ‘ethnic’ by outside observers.

However, in Kenya, as in Kyrgyzstan, the motives were more broad-ranging than that and, frankly, I think the problem is that most observers and experts lack the big-picture vision to draw all the threads together and weave a sound narrative to explain the conflagration.

I respect the opinions of the contributors and commenters to Registan, many of whom are informed by years of on-the-ground experience in Central Asia, whether through Peace Corps, doctoral research, government employment, NGO work etc but, as ever, nobody spotted this coming.

So much of the white-noise obscuring reporting and commentary on the events in Osh is a product, it seems to me, of a dawning realization that, in the immortal words of William Goldman, ‘nobody knows anything.’

Well, obviously, as I remarked above, plenty of people know plenty about the current macro- and micro-political/economic/social etc. situation in the Ferghana valley, but I think we have reached a point where we need to challenge the perception, first elucidated in Nick Megoran’s otherwise fine study, Calming the Ferghana Valley Experts (pdf) (a decade old, note) that our fears about the possibility for conflagration in the Ferghana valley have been exaggerated and misinformed.

Of course, it is too early to say whether or not this will be the beginning of a period of instability, but at this moment, the conditions have become unfortunately perfect for an outbreak of, too my mind, de facto civil war.

Michael Hancock June 16, 2010 at 7:21 pm

You are informed by the greatest fallacy of political science: i.e. that politics is a science. There is no way that we can study politics enough for it to have scientific results. By which I mean, repeatable, clinically verifiable results. Because there is no clinic, there is no science, it’s just people being chaotic or orderly as suits their aims.

The fact that no one saw this coming is pointless. So what? We’re not calling ourselves political scientists. Where’s the guy that “saw the fall of the wall” coming? Is he king of the world, now? Even king of the political scientists? And yet, with hindsight, we see that there were a lot of warning signs that the end was coming for Communism in Europe…

Nick, I read Coming Anarchy, but I have no stomach for this kind of pap. Robert Kaplan is the worst for this garbage – any pretending to know what’s coming cannot be informed. That adage about History Repeating Itself is almost useless, because history includes everything from peace to Holocaust – the real question is “What Kind of History is Going To Repeat Itself When and Where?”

Nick June 17, 2010 at 10:32 am

Michael: ‘You are informed by the greatest fallacy of political science: i.e. that politics is a science.’

Am I? says who? I’m not even a political scientist! although, like all good historians, I use historical precedent and analogy to try (with the emphasis on *try*) to understand contemporary events – in this case, events in Osh, as seen through the prism of most contemporary scholarship on the Ferghana valley which is largely produced by political and social scientists.

(Just to try and parry any more patronizing remarks – if somewhat shakily founded – along the lines of ‘There is no way that we can study politics enough for it to have scientific results’ I should point out that I have an entire graduate degree in philosphies and methodologies of research, so I’m well aware of the inherent fallacies (not least of the inductive variety) in both Quantitative and Qualitative (and, also Mixed) methods.

My critique is just as much aimed as Post-Positivists as it is Positivists. In deconstructing Positivist methods, Post-Positivists – some of whom study our region – have ended-up applying conceptual frameworks (Post-Colonial, Feminist, Queer Geography, Framing, Constructivist etc.) that in attempting to avoid making firm conclusions based on empirical evidence are, frankly, baffling and pointless.

As for Robert Kaplan – I’ve read his magazine journalism. He’s garbage.

Michael Hancock June 17, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Touche, sir! I see your deconstruction, and raise you a possible compromise. I, too, want to understand events as they go down. But I am nervous about people making predictions, except in situations where they truly know all the mitigating factors… and when it comes to Central Asia, I think very few have a grasp on the whole spiky ball of mitigating factors.

Nick June 17, 2010 at 1:58 pm

Thank you, sir – you are a gentleman and a scholar (or should that be sayyid va olim?)

michaelhancock June 17, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Yeah, totally went crazy on you. Thought you were someone else…

hamdard June 16, 2010 at 5:01 pm

to Gene Daniels:
as an Uzbek, i found your post to be insulting. just because one guy told you that “we are mean and brutal to each other” — does not mean it applies to all of us. you are overgeneralizing. i do not judge the whole american nation in being racist and/or brutal just because i hear racial/antisemitic/xenophobic (you name it) slurs on tv or even sometimes from individual people.

if this whole thing was purely ethnic, why then it happened only now? if we are inherently violent people, and we hate each other because we belong to different ethnic groups, how come we did not exterminate each other by now?

don’t you think that basis of this violence can be something else? when you have 18-25 year old males who have no work, no education (beyond their secondary education, the quality of which have been declining in last 10 yrs), and no hope for the future — of course they act on their anger and frustration. they try to find and blame people on their own misery: its either the government who is not providing a better life, or better – their neighbor who happens to be the ‘other’ – ethnically, religiously, or racially.

it just bothers me when i hear people saying that if you give central asians some freedom (or when IAK dies) they will get violent or turn to some religious freaks. as if violence, brutality and radical religiosity are hard-wired in us. why when you analyze the situation in CA, your point of departure should be “they are central asians, therefore they are…..?” why can’t it be “these are the factors creating the violence amongst people…”

Michael Hancock June 16, 2010 at 7:16 pm

I, for one, agree totally with hamdard, though I know it’s not Gene’s own words up there. While there might be a lot of tension and axes to grind, the fact is that NO ONE KNOWS what will happen when Papa Karimov kicks the bucket.

Samantha June 16, 2010 at 7:09 pm

Reader about my comment above. Neither, I think he is blowing hot air. The Tajik gov’t has repeatedly requested that Baibolov retract his statements. He has not done it the last time I checked.

Reader June 16, 2010 at 7:42 pm

Well, okay, then it must be very specifically targeted hot air against Tajiks. Who knows why?

Not that you want to read further into this, which I do, I have a totally raw unsupported theory which I am not ready to defend yet, but here it goes. It’s a blog, we can discuss theories, right?!

Fact: Uzbekistan has blocked Tajik trains with supplies for the construction of Roghun Dam in Tajikistan. The trains also contain a limited amount of NDN supplies to US military. Tajikistan has been very upset at this and have made statements to the international media. Uzbekistan does not want the dam built since its water resources are at stake. Tajikistan does not want to sit at a regional conference on agreement of water use as requested by Uzbekistan.

Rumors: Tajik and Uzbek President are not getting along. Tajik President has claimed Samarkand and Bukhara should be taken over by Tajikistan.

Fact: Kyrgyz authorities have implicated trained Tajik men for violence against Uzbeks in Osh. UN has said the violence was premeditated and coordinated (by unknown parties). There are reports of masked men driving around shooting.

Questions: who was getting rich from the Roghun Dam construction project and NDN deliveries? Tajik officials? Mafia? Both? If indeed the instigators were Tajiks, who hired them? Are they really trained in camps?

Isn’t Internet wonderful? Everything I have said is out there. Has anyone else made this connection? I do not have any hard proof, so if you attack this theory, I will not defend it and leave it out there. But I am afraid it may come true and then people will be trying to find out how I figured it out.

Samantha June 17, 2010 at 4:54 pm

Reader, I think your theory is not crazy and it is very realistic. However, I would like to add to that.

When the violence was at its peak, the Uzbek government began to re-allow (not a word I know) trains to cross into Tajikistan. Although these trains contained aid, who knows what else or who else was in them. Also who said it was the Tajiks outside of the country, they could have been inside the country already and been hired that way? Conspiracy-like I know. =)

The Kyrgyz government is saying that the Bakiev clan hired the Tajiks.

According to Avesta.tj, experts in Tajikistan believe that there are outside forces at work be it governments, militants, mercenaries for hire, etc. They have acknowledged that there is the possibility that IMU and IJU and militants from Pakistan have returned to take advantage of the violence to advance their own agenda.

Rogun the Tajiks and mafia are getting rich off of it. But the protests of the Rogun by the Uzbeks are not because they want to end corruption they are greedy.

Reader June 17, 2010 at 5:36 pm

Ditto.

Incendiary bullets and heavy machine guns were used according to Russian language media. Which citizen group owns such toys outside of Idaho?

Samantha June 17, 2010 at 7:25 pm

The Russian media also reported sticks and rods then guns were used. Sticks and rods seem to be the style of the Central Asian people. They could be militants, they could be IMU members, Islamists extremists from who knows where.

Zoki June 16, 2010 at 8:30 pm

Gene Daniels, I don’t even know how you managed to write a post on this blog. You are forgetting that violence is not inherent to people of certain nation, violence comes from humiliation, injustice, provoking and so on and so forth. Your American/Western arrogant view of things and blindness is a sheer disgrace for this blog…and your nation.

Did you forget about the 1992 Los Angeles riots in your country? How it started and why it continued so long?!?!

The politician you spoke to was a politician, all he wanted is your support of Karimov and apparently he was a good politician if he made you believe his argument so strongly. But you are not a good writer.
What you suddenly rediscovered with your post is not a truth, it is a racist thought reborn which you maybe had when you met those uzbeks.

If you feel insulted and assaulted and ashamed now, it is because you should. And rightly so! Uzbeks as you see can be very mean and evil. (sarcasm)

Gene Daniels June 16, 2010 at 9:09 pm

Well, I am glad to see that I managed to bring lots of discission.

I did not intend to insult any Uzbeks, or Kyrgyz or whoever. I have no axe to grid, no point to prove. I simply wanted to get a discussion going.

However, I would recommend that everyone reflect on what has happened in Osh rather than analyzing it. That might be very fruitful

Zoki Uzbek June 16, 2010 at 9:32 pm

I am glad you say we reflect on what has happened. There are over 100.000 women and children now hiding in Uzbekistan, and their husbands and fathers trying to save what has left from their property. The trauma is really deep. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mr1jpQHp6oc

I have also not heard any American politician make a statement on this issue.

kebz June 16, 2010 at 9:56 pm

ideally standards sould be maintained by the nations of course.
but…

The US did NOT call for the world to help them fix the problem with riots in LA or Stonewall or anywhere else. Nor have they blamed anyone outside. They made THEIR own decisions.

It is very irresponsible and immature to expect that some other people or nations will resolve YOUR problems. Central Asia should get this way of thinking off their minds as soon as possible. NO ONE will or has the moral right to think for you NO ONE will or has the moral right take risks and make decisions for you.

If you hope to escape working on existential risks and responsibility – its a bad idea as it will never work out well and will surely take you to even more suffering. Wake up! Start asking what you people in Central Asia should and can do? Keep looking for an answer day in day out till the end of life, there is no other receipt. Dont you see it yet?

Zoki Uzbek June 17, 2010 at 9:03 am

Uzbeks have taken their own defense in THEIR own hands. The provisional government, which is to care of citizens, has not. Don’t mix what Otunbaeva is saying with what Uzbeks feel now. Otunbaeva a former KGB agent, and anyone who knows KGB, will tell you there is nothing like being “former” about it. She will see the West through Moscow, and that’s why she called for Russian troops.

Kebz, it is your moral right not to support suffering or anyone else. I don’t want to argue on that.

kebz June 17, 2010 at 5:23 pm

this is not just about defence. security is not just about defence. you can not solve problems just by defence alone.

what is the strategy for the next 100 years for the nations in central asia besides sheer multiplying?

Al June 16, 2010 at 10:38 pm

I don’t know if the time to reflect on what has happened has come yet. The situation has not calmed down, armed people are still walking around Osh with weapons and heavy duty pieces of metal. Who wants to think of consequences of this catastrophe today? Definitely not the 300,000 refugees who are on either side of the Uzbek-Kyrgyz border, hoping to live.
Even if the smoke settles down, how will these people go back to their ruins? Will they silently start scraping blood of their relatives off the walls, start rebuilding their houses, re-start their businesses? How will they exist side-by-side with those, who days ago were craving blood?
Maybe, if the kyrgyz government publicly acknowledges its faulty policy and starts granting the uzbek population some political power. Maybe, if the uzbeks receive fair compensation for their destroyed livelihoods and their dead relatives.
But if their government doesn’t turn around and act on behalf of its uzbek citizens, this story won’t end so soon.
Remember the US Civil War? The wounds of that war are still fresh in certain parts of your country. Well, the US has done a lot for its confederate states to sooth that pain. I am not sure that the Kyrgyz people will do the same for the Uzbeks.

Oldschool boy June 17, 2010 at 12:48 am

“Ferghana Valley is potentially a bloody mess” – it has become almost an axiom in Russian “political science” and journalism. It is a cliche. It started in late 80s – early 90s. And Western media have been copy-catting Russians. The only reasoning was that there were Uzbek, Tajik and Kyrgyz people living together. So far, nothing has happened that proved it true. And there is no more “grudges, resentment, and hatred” in Central Asia than anywhere else in the World, far less than, for instance, in Saudi Arabia, from my point of view. (Actually, Gene, I would really love to hear how these grudges, resentment and hatred manifested themselves, so you could see them so clearly.)
There is tension everywhere where two different groups of people live. It is just nature of every living thing, competition that is. If you think, however, in most cases the tension does not turn into massacres. So, what happened in Osh and Jalal-Abad was not an inevitable consequence of Kyrgyzs and Uzbeks living together. It was just logical continuation of the current “revolution”, or even previous “rose revolution”, which were so admired by Western observers. It is just that chaos created by political and social disorder. This disorder simply releases all demons suppressed within us. (Only, please, by no means consider me a supporter of Karimov or Nazarbayev, or any dictatorship regimes. The stability in their countries happens not because of their presidents but because of their people.) Kyrgyzstan has been in this chaos for so long that people have become disoriented and lost moral, social and legal restrictions.
I have been an army sergeant and I know that lack of discipline leads to fights among soldiers.
So, we dissected the Osh violence, we even have a recipe for ethnic violence, but here is food for thought. I remember a book by Valentin Pikul, a Russian author of political and spy detective novels. He described as, during WWI, law abiding, family loving German burghers suddenly turned into an angry, blood-thirsty lynching mob that were so eager to tear into pieces a Russian tourist girl.
Back in the USSR, people from North and South Caucasus were all united and took great proud of being so friendly to each other and having the same character. Until 1988. Then Sumgait happened. After that, Armenians and Azeri, who before had been like brothers, became bitter enemies. Then there were Abhazia, Ferghana, Osh, Vladikavkaz, Malyi Uzen, Chechnya, and etc. Now there are conflicts in Karachaevo-Cherkessia, Kabardino-Balkaria, North Osetia, Dagestan. And nobody saw it coming. It just happened overnight, people started hating others. And back then in the Soviet Union, the economic situation was still OK.

So? June 17, 2010 at 2:12 am

We must not forget to thank Saint Andrei Sakharov and his wife Elena Bonner for spurring on the Armenian national awakening in Nagorny Karabakh.

Dilshod June 17, 2010 at 1:21 am

@Reader
Once we started discussing conspiracy theories, let me give you another couple of facts and speculate (I am a big fan of speculations).
Where did Bakiev find refuge? Byelorus (read Russia). Why would he choose Byelorus? Right, he perhaps had little option (and was “advised” by Moscow). Under whose control was and is he? Right, Russian. Hence, who monitors and has all the info about Bakiev? Right, Russia (otherwise how on earth they would have tracked his stealing of the foreign aid). If he was behind, why didn’t they do anything? Right, it was THEM. They’ve been waiting for what? Probably, for Karimov to get active with CSTO and assent to Charter amendment authorizing the use of “peace-keepers” in situaitons of internal strife (to seal in law and practice the Russian-style Monroe doctrine ). Why did they use Tajik-speakers? Right, because of Uzbek-Tajik problems it is the best distruction off the focus.

So? June 17, 2010 at 1:51 am

Now that’s diabolical! However, IMO, it’s Lukashenko giving the finger to the two Moscow gnomes, the older one especially.

Alec June 17, 2010 at 5:39 am

Surely, Lukashenka ain’t exactly in hock with Moscow? At the time Bakiyev went to Belarus, he’d just gone missing for several days only to turn up in Caracas just as Voldemort Putin visited Minsk.

I’d be interested know precisely why Bakiyev Fils decided to fly to Blighty.

Reader June 17, 2010 at 11:27 am

Dilshod, very intriguing viewpoint and you include the Tajik link. Had you thought about the Tajik link before reading my raw theory? I had thought about Russia as the originator of Roghun supply chain and how some sellers must be pissed off at Uzbekistan for not delivering their goods. What kind of people and would they go so far as to massacre hundreds of people to make a statement, that is still hard to believe. But another piece of info, a mafia gym was attacked in Osh, could it be a mafia war for supplying the osh bazaar with Chinese goods?

Dilshod June 17, 2010 at 6:37 am

I am wondering if ths time too noone will be punished for these http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jun/16/kyrgyzstan-killings-attempted-genocide-uzbeks ?

Alec June 17, 2010 at 9:04 am

The death toll is barely into the triple figures. “Genocide” is not about killing a lot – or, even, a few – of people in a short period of time.

This event should be criticize for what it is – nasty, vindictive, callous, murderous – without hyperbole.

CB June 17, 2010 at 9:05 am

UN sources are now saying 400,000 displaced of which 100,000 fled to Uzbekistan while the Guardian article suggest 2,000 killed. This will not be over soon.

Nick Megoran June 17, 2010 at 6:53 am

The Osh violence was replaced in the British news by the publication of the report by the Saville Inquiry on the 1972 ‘bloody sunday’ shootings in Belfast. It took Lord Saville 12 years, 10 volumes and almost £200m to establish a reliable account of what happened in one incident in which 13 people were killed almost 40 years ago. Let’s be cautious as we speak about what has happened in southern Kyrgyzstan over the past six days. May God have mercy on the people of this beautiful city.

Zoki Uzbek June 17, 2010 at 9:12 am

I agree with Nick on this, although it does not mean that we should not be active in humanitarian aid.

Interim government is blaming the Bakievs because it is most suiting version to calm people down. Whether this is true or not, shall be evident with time.

Laurence Jarvik June 17, 2010 at 9:15 am

Nick, Well said.

Zoki Uzbek June 17, 2010 at 9:15 am

PS: I also hope that some people in Kyrgyzstan will not consider this blog entry conclusive of Uzbeks after reading it and legitimize their violence against them. It would be really unfortunate of folk behind Registan.

Noah June 17, 2010 at 3:55 pm

Zoki–
One post, and the comments, aren’t indicative of “the folks behind Registan.” We are a blog, not an edited publication. This is Gene’s first post here, and Michael Hancock, Sarah (Kendzior), and I (three of the blogs other writers, among a group of several more) are here in the comments arguing with him. His opinion is his own, and he’s entitled to it, but once authors are approved they self-publish–none of our articles imply that anyone else on the blog agrees with us, have editorial approval, or represent a stance held by Registan.net.

Nick Megoran–
Your comment is very insightful, and I’m afraid, as much as I want to make sense of the situation, you’re probably very right.

I agree, too, with everyone else who has called for supporting humanitarian assistance. Money can be given to the Red Cross, Red Crescent, or UNHCR, but I’d like to find someplace where we can donate material items too. Sarah sent me an email about this earlier today and mentioned that there are some groups on Facebook where people are announcing places where material donations can be dropped off and then sent on. As I learn more I’ll try to put up a post about it so others here in the States can get information. If someone else beats me to it, that’s even better.

Dilshod June 17, 2010 at 12:20 pm

It seems there’s a “helpful” hand coming to “investigate the events” http://www.ferghana.ru/news.php?id=15020&mode=snews (the story says that Russian law enforcement is building an investigation team to operate under CSTO umbrella).

Gill June 21, 2010 at 8:49 am

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