Monday, August 22, 2005
How one newspaper became Karimov's mouthpiece
Before the republic gained independence in 1991, Ozbekiston Adabiyoti va San’ati served as one of Uzbekistan’s more critical and insightful newspapers, publishing ground-breaking articles advocating recognition of Uzbek as the official language, an immediate end to cotton-monoculture, protection for the Aral Sea and the restoration of Central Asia’s cultural and religious heritage.
During the early years of independence, Ozbekiston Adabiyoti va San’ati would sometimes stake out a position as a government watchdog. In early 1992, for example, Uzbek security forces ruthlessly quelled a student riot at Tashkent State University, leaving several students dead or seriously wounded. In sharp contrast its Andijan coverage, Ozbekiston Adabiyoti va San’ati deplored the unnecessary loss of life during the student protest and demanded a thorough investigation.
A full month after the Andijan events Ozbekiston Adabiyoti va San’ati had not provided a full and impartial description of what went on. Instead, the newspaper has offered a steady stream of attacks on alleged Islamic radicals who organized and participated in the Andijan events. Ozbekiston Adabiyoti va San’ati’s editorial voice has not differed substantially from all other Uzbek media outlets. Commentaries during this period have seemingly aimed to achieve two goals: reinforce the notion that it was every citizen’s duty to support the administration in its struggle to defeat "extremists" and "terrorists; and to convince Uzbeks that the government, since independence, has sought to address the spiritual needs of the population.
Read the rest.