Central Asia Monitor

by Nathan Hamm on 8/14/2012

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Uzbekistan’s PM Bans Child Labor (Again…)

UzNews reported that on 11 August, education departments across Uzbekistan received instructions from Prime Minister Mirziyaev regarding the upcoming cotton harvesting campaign. The PM decreed that children should not be involved in the harvest at all, higher prices for cotton, increased pay for adult harvesters, and a public awareness campaign to educate children and parents on the illegailty of child labor. Mirziyaev charged the Prosecutor-General with overseeing implementation of the orders. Similar decrees prior to the cotton harvest have been issued prior to cotton harvests for the past several years and seem primarily designed to try to convince foreign critics that Uzbekistan’s government is trying to improve its record on child labor. (Uznews, 13 August) — NH

Additional Suspects Arrested for Murder of Tajik President’s Brother-in-Law

Two brothers, Tohir and Fazil Hakimov, were arrested in the ongoing investigation of the murder of Emomali Rahmon’s brother-in-law, Kholmumin Safarov. Safarov was the husband of Rahmon’s elder sister, and director of the Tajik forestry and hunting agency. He was shot on June 13 in Dushanbe. Reportedly, firearms matching those used in the attack were found in Tohir Hakimov’s house, prompting the arrest of the brothers, although according to the Tajik Prosecutor General the results of a ballistics test have not yet been revealed. The brothers are currently accused of complicity in the murder. In July, Amnesty International alleged that another suspect in the case had been tortured in order to force a confession; this other suspect was arrested on July 13. He has not been identified, and claims that the police planted ammunition in his house. (Ozodi, 13 August) — AL

Russian Support Centers to Open in Osh, Bishkek

Centers operated by the Russian NGO “Fund to Support and Protect the Rights of Compatriots Living Abroad.” Participants of a meeting in Bishkek discussing plans for the centers said that they hope in the future to open similar centers in every province of Kyrgyzstan. The centers will provide legal and other support to Russians whose “rights, freedoms, and legal interests” are threatened and give grants to human rights activists and organizations. There have been a handful of high-profile cases of ethnically motivated attacks on and prosecution of ethnic Russians in Kyrgyzstan in recent years that have increased anxiety among ethnic Russian and Russophone Kyrgyzstanis. (Comment.kg, 10 August) — NH

Aktobe Religious Organization Re-registrations Moving Slowly

Of the more than 100 religious organizations currently operating in Kazakhstan’s Aktobe oblast, only two Protestant churches and 15 mosques have submitted re-registration applications required under a new relgious law passed last year. Officials with Aktobe’s Department of Religious Affairs encouraged congregations to submit applications as soon as possible as inspection of applications can take two months and may require the submission of additional documents. The 2011 religious law required all congregations in Kazakhstan to re-register by October 11, 2012. Re-registration applications were not accepted until recenbtly and carried a new requirement of 50 congregant signatures rather than the 10 required under old legislation. (Zakon, 14 August) — NH

Kazakhstan is Prepared to Allow Access of Goods from Turkic-Speaking Countries into the CIS Customs Union

On August 14, the Kazakh Minister of Economic Development and Trade, Bakitzhan Sagintaev, announced that Kazakhstan is proposing to allow goods and services from Turkic countries access to the customs union between Kazakhstan, Russia, and Belarus. This announcement came at the second annual meeting of the economic ministers of Turkic nations in Baku, Azerbaijan. This could open up huge new markets for some Turkic countries both within and outside of Central Asia. Sagnitaev added the caveat that only goods and services from companies registered in Kazakhstan will have access to the customs union. A final agreement will be adopted at the meeting of heads of state of the Turkic Council in Bishkek on August 23. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, and Azerbaijan participated in the meeting on the 14th. (abc.az, 14 August). — JL

Shymkent Merchants Rally Over Aid Delays

On 13 August, merchants from Shymkent’s largest clothing market rallied in front of the municipal administration building over delays in distribution of aid promised following an August 3rd fire destroyed the market. Protesters complained that the charitable fund set up to collect donations is distributing aid to merchants entirely at the pace and discretion of fund employees and demanded a meeting with the mayor of Shymkent. Government and fund officials claim that they are distributing relief as soon as they receive donations and have already given 112 million tenge ($750,000) to 600 of the affected merchants. The fire at the market affected about 7,000 merchant stalls. (CA-NEWS and KTK, 13-14 August) — NH

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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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