“An American Dream, an Exile’s Nightmare”: Sarah Kendzior on Uzbekistan’s War against its Own Exiles, Migrant Workers

by Noah Tucker on 6/30/2013

Registan alum Sarah Kendzior has a fantastic new article in AJE today about the Choriev family’s ongoing struggle to build ordinary lives in the US while campaigning to change the system they had to flee in Uzbekistan. The disappearance and arrest of their 71-year old father in his rural village has become only the most recent of many examples of the way Uzbek authorities increasingly have zero tolerance for dissent even from the other side of the world. Here’s an excerpt:

The plight of the Choriyev family speaks to the modern version of an old authoritarian tactic: punishing activists abroad by persecuting their relatives at home. In the digital age, exile has gone from a sentence of silence to a source of strength. Formerly isolated activists use the internet to communicate with other activists around the world and lend financial and moral support to their countrymen. With diasporas playing a greater role in facilitating political movements, dictatorships are struggling with how to control citizens who live beyond their legal purview.

One answer is to attack the loved ones they were forced to leave behind. Under the perverse dictates of authoritarianism, love becomes a liability. Loyalty becomes a lure. For families targeted, the consequences are devastating.

Read the full article here, and watch this space for more reporting on the protests the Chorievs organized in DC this weekend and continued updates.


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This post was written by...

– author of 48 posts on Registan.net.

Noah Tucker is managing editor at Registan.net and an associate at George Washington University's Elliot School of International Affairs Central Asia Program. Noah is a researcher and consultant for NGO, academic and government clients on Central Asian society and culture. He has worked on Central Asian issues since 2002--specializing in religion, national identity, ethnic conflict and social media--and received an MA from Harvard in Russian, E. European and Central Asian Studies in 2008. He has spent four and half years in the region, primarily in Uzbekistan, and returned most recently for fieldwork in Southern Kyrgyzstan in the summers of 2011 and 2012.

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