On August 31st, 1991 Uzbekistan declared their independence from the former Soviet Union. This marked the end of a very tumultuous relationship with the Soviet Union. Uzbekistan is located Northeast of Iran and Northwest of India and Pakistan. The people of Uzbekistan are called Uzbeks and make up more than 80 of the total population. Other groups are Russians, Tajiks, and Tartars. Under the Soviet Union there were many disasters and general unrest. The Bolsheviks, Here, the original founding political group of the Soviet Union, were not popular in the area of Uzbekistan. In 1924, Uzbekistan officially became a member of the Soviet Union. Uzbekistan is a mostly arid and dry country. Their main contributions to the Soviet Union were gold, natural gas, uranium, and cotton. In order for Uzbekistan to grow cotton they had to irrigate using the Aral Sea to do so. The Aral Sea, under the Soviet Union, was the fourth largest fresh lake body of water on Earth. Now the sea, due to poor irrigation tactics of the Soviet Union, is 1/3 of the size that it was in the mid 1960s. Cotton is a very valuable crop but takes an enormous amount of water to keep it growing well. Without the building of dams and proper irrigation ditches, the sea has been drained of much of its water and has not been able to catch up or become replenished. Since less than 5 of Uzbekistan can be farmed, it has left Uzbekistan in a water shortage crisis. This is one way that life in Uzbekistan under the Soviet Union has transformed what the country must deal with today. Under the Soviet Union, poverty was high and the military police ruled with an iron fist. Under Stalin, the Uzbeks were never trusted and always seen as potential political enemies. The enigmatic and paranoid Stalin had hundreds of thousand of Uzbeks and Tartars sent to the Gulag Camps located in Siberia. This created an atmosphere of distrust and hidden anger against the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
Islam Karimov is the first and only president of Uzbekistan, holding this position since the country declared its independence from the Soviet Union on September 1, 1991. Although Uzbekistan is technically a republic, its election process is anything but democratic. Karimov, who has won three straight elections, has been accused of rigging elections to stay in power. His third re-election was especially controversial, since the Constitution of Uzbekistan states that each president can only serve a maximum of two terms.
The international community has been highly critical of Karimov. Great Britain and the United States, in particular, have denounced not only Karimov’s mockery of democratic values, but also his utter disregard for human rights and press freedom.
The Karimov administration has used torture, kidnapping, murder, rape, religious oppression and other heinous acts as tools to repress its dissenters. Karimov’s cruelest display of power came on May 12, 2005 in Andijan, Uzbekistan. Thousands of people gathered in the streets of the city to peacefully protest the arrests of 23 local businessmen accused of being Islamist extremists. After armed gunmen stormed the jail and released the accused extremists, government troops and tanks massacred 500 unarmed people, including women and children. This event has been dubbed the “Andijan Massacre.”
Karimov is also notorious for strictly controlling the tone and subject material of the mass media. Imagine ordering satellite TV service from www.satellitetv-hq.com, only to find out that your package only comes with two channels. That’s a reality in Uzbekistan. TV Uzbekistan and TV Yoshlar are the only channels available in the country, and they exist primarily to serve as government mouthpieces.
Sadly, there is no imminent end in sight for the Karimov regime, which continues to have a stranglehold on the country.
Alexander of ancient Greece, the first ruler of the world, traveled through Uzbekistan on his campaign that took him all the way to India. Alexander’s Asian campaign started in 334 B.C.E with the conquering of Asia Minor. This included Egypt as well as the Phoenicians. He then set out to move against Persia, and after his success there, entered Central Asia in 329 B.C.E..
Moving through what is now Afghanistan, but called Bactria by the Read the rest of this entry »
Emir Timur, or Tamerlane as he is better known in the west, was a controversial figure of the 14th century whose bloody reign of terror reshaped the face of Asia for centuries. Born in a small town called Kesh, near Samarkand, in 1336 in what was then part of the Chagatai Khanate, now modern Uzbekistan, but scarce little else is known about his childhood and early adolescence.
This son of a minor chief would rise to control an Read the rest of this entry »
Genghis Khan was spurred on by his father’s poisoning at the hands of the Tartars under a flag of conciliation when he was just nine years old. Khan went on to become one of the most fearsome tribal leaders in history, but began with many early troubles. Until the age of 20 Khan had numerous problems with rival tribes including the kidnapping of his pregnant wife and his own capture and enslavement by the Taichi’uts.The whole Read the rest of this entry »
Samarqand, way station along the silk road, is an ancient city in Uzbekistan.
At the present day, the land-locked country of Uzbekistan is surrounded by the countries of Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan. (Indeed, Uzbekistan has the distinction of being only one of two “double-landlocked” countries in the world, meaning that someone in Uzbekistan actually has to cross the borders of two countries before reaching the ocean.)
Samarqand, Read the rest of this entry »
On August 31st, 1991 Uzbekistan declared their independence from the former Soviet Union. This marked the end of a very tumultuous relationship with the Soviet Union. Uzbekistan is located Northeast of Iran and Northwest of India and Pakistan. The people of Uzbekistan are called Uzbeks and make up more than 80 of the total population. Other groups are Russians, Tajiks, and Tartars. Under the Soviet Union there were many disasters and general unrest. The Bolsheviks, the Read the rest of this entry »
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