Present Condition of the Uzbek Opposition
On October-November of 2012 I reached opposition leaders Abdurahim Polatov, Muhammad Solih, Bahodir Choriev with 3 open letters. In these letters proposals such as creating a council of opposition, electing a new leader, developing a fund, making a roadmap and a platform for presidential and parliamentary elections were put in place.
Mockups for the council were as follows:
– 3 people from the political party “Birlik”
– 3 people from the national movement “Birdamlik”
– 3 people from UHH (Uzbekistan National Movement)
– 1 person from human right defenders organizations
– 1 person from editors of the various websites
Once the opposition’s councilis created a single leader would be elected on yearly basis.
Unfortunately these open letters weren’t published in Birlik and UHH’s websites. In other words, they strongly disagreed with it. The only places where they were published were the websites of Birdamlik, Zamondosh, Yangi Dunyo, and HRSU.
These are the changes that happened a year later:
1. Since August of 2013 the website of Birlik has almost stopped publishing except 2 or 3 articles per month. Party’s leader Abdurahim Polatov became a leader on the 28th of May, 1989, and since then has advertised his party as the most unified and powerful. Regretfully, this party has failed to elect a new leader and get the website working. Could it be that they won’t be back on their feet?
2. UHH. During the year Namoz Normomin, Tolib Yoqubov, Abdulla Tojiboy ogli and several others left the movement. A year before that organization Andijan Justice and Revival, Ismoil Dadajonov, Hazratqul Hudoyberdi, Muhammadsolih Abutov and others left the movement. Based on the experience and potential of these people such losses are damaging. Online radio Uzbek.FM started broadcasting.
3. In this period Birdamlik led few protests in July-August. These protests took place in the USA and Uzbekistan. In September and December political action named “OSH” happened in Uzbekistan. Participants of the protests were mainly members of Birdamlik, Alliance of Human Rights defenders led by Elena Urlaeva and HRSU members. Unfortunately those protests didn’t get the public support it needed. Leader of Birdamlik, Bahodir Choriev’s father Hasan Choriev was sentenced to prison for 5 years and 2 months.
2 handouts were published by Birdamlik. Context of these handouts included a way to break free from Islom Karimov’s dictatorship and plans of this movement for the future. Movement focuses on developing the middle class and property owners.
Overall if we have to rate the progress of the Uzbek opposition it failed to become a political power, and instead, Birlik and UHH weakened. It can be said that Birlik has nearly stopped working. Birdamlik with its big spendings was able to organize protests in Uzbekistan and the USA, but due to pressure from government many small leaders of districts and counties had no choice but to leave this movement. Properties of Hasan Choriev were taken in a barbaric fashion and accused wrongly. In October-November of the same year Bahodir Choriev revealed the movement’s main goal – to end the dictatorship of Islam Karimov.
I believe Birdamlik can’t get far without public support on its own due to some of the following reasons:
1. For this plan to work Birdamlik will face challenges not only from Islam Karimov’s regime but also from Birlik and UHH.
2. Radio stations BBC, Radio Liberty, Voice of America might choose to ignore these efforts. These radio stations prefer to advertize Muhammad Solih as the only leader. For example, public rally of Birdamlik made for Constitution Day was left out from broadcasts.
3. Citizens of Uzbekistan live under the vicious and unforgiving regime of Islam Karimov while being poor. To expect a support from these people would be a sweet dream.
4. The Uzbek opposition lost its respect in front of ordinary Uzbek citizens because of all conflicts and internal division.
The question is, how can the opposition become a political power?
I can assuredly say that to become a real power, the Uzbek opposition should learn from countries as Georgia, Ukraine, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan and Arab spring revolution countries: Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Syria. Their experience, their mistakes, their advantages can be a valuable lesson and these are things that can be put into practice and used.
Revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine were successfully led by single dominant opposition leaders – Mikheil Saakashvili and Victor Yushchenko in 2003-2004. Protests in Russia which took place in December of 2011 and during 2012 contained up to 100 thousand people, yet it failed to make a significant impact because they lacked a single powerful leader. Protests in Ukraine that have been going on since 21st of November 2013 were facing the same problem as in Russia. However, Ukrainian opposition corrected their mistake by establishing a National Front “Maidan” with support from public and small organizations. This front’s aim is to call early parliamentary and presidential elections and nominate a single candidate.
Azerbaijan’s opposition chose Jamil Hasanli as their leader.
Tajikistan’s opposition chose Oinihol Bobonazarova for presidential elections.
Using weapons and violent actions to enter the government caused humanitarian and economic problems.
In my opinion, following works have to be done to turn the opposition into a political power:
1. Birlik and UHH should elect new leaders instead of Abdurahim Polatov and Muhammad Solih. In truth these 2 have broken the principals of their party and have been leading for 24-23 years. How can an organization that brakes democratic principles turn Uzbekistan into democratic society.
2. Council of 11 should be created. It will have to include 3 people from each of the Birlik, Birdamlik and UHH as well as one person from human rights defender’s organizations and a website editor.
3. New leaders from Birlik and UHH, Birdamlik’s leader Bahodir Choriev can take turns every year to be the head of this said opposition’s council.
4. Opposition council‘s main aim is to integrate scattered, weak powers in the opposition to a formidable political power, end the reign of Islam Karimov’s dictatorship, and go through presidential and parliamentary elections.
Following people are the activists working to create a strong political power: Documentary films director Abdulaziz Mahmudov, HRSU’s leader for Ferghana region Nosir Zokir, young oppositionist Torabek Sano and me, Abdujalil Boymatov.
The foundation “Hamkorlik” (partnership) was created in May 26, 2013. Hamkorlik was registered thanks to efforts of Abdujabbor Ismoilov. Also, Rizo Obid and his website Zamondosh as well as the editors contributed greatly. Hamkorlik’s website is online since September 2, 2013. Torabek Sano is the editor of this website. http://hamkorlik.ucoz.org/
President of the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan
December 28, 2013.
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