Stung by Amnesty International

by Joshua Foust on 7/5/2011 · 1 comment

For The Atlantic, I write:

The somewhat uncomfortable truth of the matter is, Kazakhstan is the least abusive country in Central Asia (though that isn’t saying much). Sting making a high-profile cancellation for the striking oil workers is fine as far as it goes, but completely misses the point of even complaining about human rights abuses in the first place: oil workers shouldn’t have to protest in front of the media to draw attention to civil rights issues in the country.

The practice of human rights in Central Asia, including how to improve them, requires more than an aging pop singer juggling around a concert or two. It takes consistent international pressure, shame, even ostracism to get even minute changes in posture. President Nazarbayev will treat Sting’s snub like any dictator would treat an artist’s snub: by ignoring it and continuing on. And the opinion writers who gleefully guffaw at Sting’s continuing issues with telling right from wrong will do the same–ignoring everything else that’s happening in the region, all the abuse and misery and promise and hope–and not return until some other celebrity draws our attention back once more.


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This post was written by...

– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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{ 1 comment }

Bill Shipsey July 5, 2011 at 7:32 pm

Dear Joshua,

This is by far and away the most insightful and perceptive piece of the one hundred plus that have gone online since late Sunday. I share your scepticisthat the the human rights issues are bigger than oil workers on strike and a detained lawyer but at least the issue of human rights in Kazakhstan is being aired and there is a chance that the regime who are so conscious of their image will take some notice. Bravo for the writing.

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