Appeal of the chairman of the party ‘Erk of Uzbekistan
To Knut Wollenbak, President of OSCE
To leaders of democratic countries
To human rights protection organizations of the world
When the Central Asian republics of the disintegrated USSR became independent, the West supported them, disregarding the authoritarian regime of these states. This was demanded by the Western strategy in the new geopolitical space. Human rights and democracy in these countries were not on the priority list of the West. If the character of the regime was criticized, it was done by public, not by official agencies. Such was the official attitude, although these countries had already signed international documents, proclaiming human rights and democratic values.
This attitude encouraged the supporters of authoritarian regimes, and one after another dictators appeared in the Central Asia, who did not conceal their hate to democracy. The President of the Uzbekistan was the most candid. Having disbanded by bullets a peaceful demonstration of students in 1992, he put an end to democratization of the country. Seven difficult years have passed since that time. These years were the ones of incarceration, exile, death for Uzbek democrats. People got five-year terms of prison only because they read the newspaper of the opposition or because they were relatives of oppositionists.
Repressions expanded year after year, covering new layers of the population. People began to run from the country. Thousands went to Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, even to Tadzhikistan, where a war was raging. They were refugees of the new type. they ran not from an economic catastrophe and not from the elemental calamity, but from the state terror.
The main argument in the mouth of the Uzbek dictator was stability. He used this keyword in his fight with the opposition. During seven years he kept repeating the same: ‘If I give freedom to people, we shall have war, like in Tadzhikistan. He never said ‘like in Kyrgyzstan, because Kyrgyzstan was peaceful and people were free. There was stability in this country in spite of the fact that people used their Constitutional rights: the freedom of speech, of demonstrations, of meetings. In order to make stability even more stable the Uzbek President trebled the personnel of the security service and of the Ministry of Interior during seven years. Along with it he created a vast network of stool-pigeons and provocateurs, which covered the remotest districts of the country. Thus, on the ruins of the former Soviet Union there appeared a compact totalitarian copy of its prototype. Nobody noticed or wanted to notice the new-born monster. Some had economic, other had political interests in this dark nook of the new world. The West and the USA tried not to scare away the new states by demands to introduce democracy, since they did not wish to loose strategic partners in Eurasia. Besides their attention was focused on other events in the post-Soviet space (wars in Tadzhikistan, Chechnya, etc.). All this postponed the lazy opposition to totalitarianism in the Central Asia. The Uzbek President used the moment very successfully. He continued to grow the state terror against the population literally before the eyes of the world public, without arising any criticism. But everything has an end. Seven years of this distracting policy brought the country to the edge of a precipice. A social explosion in Uzbekistan seems unavoidable. Various social groups become radical, as well as political groups tired of many-year persecutions. Less and less people inside these groups remain, who believe in democratic solutions of the accumulated problems, most become supporters of forcible methods.
The explosions of 16 February in Tashkent gave a pretext to the regime to increase repressions to support stability, but simultaneously the regime increased hate of the people and decreased the probability of the compromise. As a result of the natural development of events the world soon will get here, instead of the stable totalitarian power, a hotbed of a civil war, compared only with Afghanistan.
The West, the USA and Russia are equally responsible for the rebirth of totalitarianism in the Central Asia and for the danger of a civil war in this region. That happened because for many years they disregarded the growth of violence in the most important state of this region and, one way or another, supported this country.
We, representatives of the political opposition in Uzbekistan, more than once turned to the world public and to the governments of the mentioned countries with the request to render assistance to the Uzbek democracy, but never got a positive answer. Now we turn to them again, this time not with the request to help democracy in our country, but to help the country itself, since it is standing on the brink of a civil war.
With respect, Muhammad Salih
14 June 1999