The Vanishing Generation
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As a young reporter in Uzbekistan, Bagila Bukharbayeva was a witness to her countrys search for an identity after the collapse of the Soviet Union. While self-proclaimed religious leaders argued about what was the true Islam, Bukharbayeva shows how some of the neighborhood boys became religious, then devout, and then a threat to the country's authoritarian government. The Vanishing Generation provides an unparalleled look into what life is like in a religious sect, the experience of people who live for months and even years in hiding, and the fabricated evidence, torture, and kidnappings that characterize an authoritarian government. In doing so, she provides a rare and unforgettable story of what life is like today inside the secretive and tightly controlled country of Uzbekistan. Balancing intimate memories of playmates and neighborhood crushes with harrowing stories of extremism and authoritarianism, Bukharbayeva gives a voice to victims whose stories would never otherwise be heard.



Publié par
Date de parution 28 mars 2019
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780253040831
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo

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Faith and Uprising in Modern Uzbekistan
Bagila Bukharbayeva
This book is a publication of
Indiana University Press
Office of Scholarly Publishing
Herman B Wells Library 350
1320 East 10th Street
Bloomington, Indiana 47405 USA
2019 by Bagila Bukharbayeva
All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standard for Information Sciences-Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1992.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Bukharbayeva, Bagila, author.
Title: The vanishing generation : faith and uprising in modern Uzbekistan / Bagila Bukharbayeva.
Description: Bloomington : Indiana University Press, 2019. | Includes bibliographical references.
Identifiers: LCCN 2018049718 (print) | LCCN 2019008936 (ebook) | ISBN 9780253040848 (e-book) | ISBN 9780253040800 (cl : alk. paper) | ISBN 9780253040817 (pb : alk. paper)
Subjects: LCSH: Islam-Uzbekistan-History-21st century. | Islam and state-Uzbekistan-History-21st century.
Classification: LCC BP63.U9 (ebook) | LCC BP63.U9 B85 2019 (print) | DDC 958.7086-dc23
LC record available at
1 2 3 4 5 24 23 22 21 20 19
To my late grandmother Fatima.
If you abdicate from your responsibilities as a human being . . . , and your responsibility as a human being is to treat other people as human beings, if you abdicate on that there is no end to the labyrinth, to the abyss in which you can find yourself.



Note on Transliteration

List of Names of Central Characters

1 Making Choices

2 Back to Islam

3 Students Imam

4 A Place of No Return

5 Disappearances

6 The Andijan Revolt

7 The Road to Uprising

8 The Shymkent Raid

9 The Youngest Brother



I T WAS 1999 WHEN I SENT MY R SUM to the Associated Press offering to report for them on my home country, Uzbekistan. I d just completed a master s in journalism in London. The local media in Uzbekistan was not free, and working for independent foreign media seemed the only way to do the kind of journalism I wanted to do-uncensored and honest. It was just a stab in the dark-a message on the off chance that the AP s human resources office in faraway New York would see something in what I had to offer. I was aware that the Western media had almost no interest in Central Asia, so I was quite prepared not to hear from them at all and soon forgot about it.
But my r sum did not get ignored. In autumn 2001, a few weeks after the 9/11 attacks, I received a surprise call from the editor of the AP s Moscow Bureau asking if I was still interested in working for them. The attacks had brought our part of the world into the spotlight as a staging point for US retaliation against the mastermind of the attacks, Osama bin Laden, who was sheltering in neighboring Afghanistan. US military aircraft and personnel were already arriving and settling in at an air base in southern Uzbekistan to take part in the Pentagon s Afghan campaign.
I was then working for the BBC Monitoring Office in Tashkent, which translated and analyzed Central Asian media reports. I wanted to write my own stories, so I jumped at the opportunity offered by the AP. In a few months, after I d gone for an interview in Moscow and gotten approval for my hiring from the New York headquarters, I started filing my first stories.

Uzbekistan, an ex-Soviet republic, had by then been an independent nation for only ten years. President Islam Karimov-who emerged as leader because he happened to be the top Uzbek communist boss when the Soviet Union ceased to exist-was at the time busy crushing the country s own alleged Islamist radicals. An alliance with a powerful Western nation in fighting international terrorism was highly welcome as indirect legitimization of Karimov s own campaign, which in reality was about creating an atmosphere of terror inside the country, so he and a narrow group of henchmen could stay in power and enrich themselves indefinitely.
Radical Islamists did emerge in Uzbekistan during the Islamic revival in the few years of relative pluralism leading up to the Soviet disintegration-but that pluralism ended as soon as Karimov got down to building his own regime. Those radicals were a small minority. The overwhelming majority of Uzbeks simply wanted to practice Islam, their traditional faith, more openly and freely than was possible under Soviet rule. Some of them were influenced by conservative Islamic teachings, which were new to Central Asia but were not necessarily political or violent.
The few radicals who had utopian ideas about creating an Islamic state in Uzbekistan had been captured or forced to flee the country in the mid- to late 1990s. But the fear of an Islamist force attempting to challenge Karimov s power was already firmly planted in his mind. The security and law-enforcement bodies continued to jail hundreds and hundreds of people, who did not want to go back to the Soviet-style officially controlled religious practice. Their convictions were based on fabricated confessions forced upon them through torture, which many did not survive. The regime also arranged forced disappearances.

I spent many days as a reporter inside courtrooms watching trials of group after group of radical Islamists -pale, subdued, their shaven heads hung low, the defendants would sit on hard, narrow benches in a metal cage. When trials were closed, I would be outside listening to accounts by their distraught family members, usually wives, mothers, and sisters.
From time to time we, a handful of journalists working for foreign news organizations, would hear of yet another death by torture in police custody or jail and meet another family in grief and pain. With the local media under total government control, we were the only ones reporting on all that with the help of a few brave human rights activists. In 2004 I moved to Kazakhstan, partly because I felt emotionally overwhelmed by these stories-it seemed that I was covering one story all the time.
In May 2005 I came to Uzbekistan to do interviews for a few features. A few days later an uprising broke out in the eastern city of Andijan. A few other journalists and I were lucky enough to reach the city before an inevitable government crackdown and witness what happened.
Seeing how the heavily armed military indiscriminately mowed down a mostly defenseless crowd left me shocked and traumatized. (The rebel leaders had guns, but the thousands gathered in the city s main square to support them or to look on were unarmed, and many of them were women, children and elderly.) The hardest thing to reconcile was the impunity with which the government violated its citizens, yet again using Islamist terrorism as a universal cover for its own crimes.
The United States condemned the Andijan massacre and joined calls for an international investigation. The short-tempered Karimov responded by ordering the US military to vacate within 180 days the Khanabad air base in the south, which they were using as a major hub for combat and humanitarian operations in Afghanistan. Karimov also expelled foreign journalists and most international organizations.
After covering the Andijan story, I returned to Kazakhstan and did not visit Uzbekistan for the next three years to avoid possible persecution as an accomplice of terrorism -an accusation the government made against journalists who d reported on the Andijan unrest.

In 2008, now a citizen of Kazakhstan and no longer with the AP or any other news organization, I returned to Tashkent-a home city I was missing. The saleswoman in the Uzbek national airline s office in Moscow (I worked in the AP s Moscow Bureau in 2007-08) who issued me a ticket did not realize how much love I was feeling for her as I watched her routine manipulations.
I was elated to be back, to take in Tashkent s special spring air, delicate and fragrant from blossoming fruit trees, to retrace my childhood steps around our neighborhood, to walk the city s tree-lined alleys, to smell the freshly baked Uzbek flatbread, to enjoy the first strawberries of the season. I wanted to be there not as a journalist but simply as someone for whom this place meant home.
But it was impossible not to notice the signs of Karimov s regime-the tense quietness of people, the sterile cleanliness of the deserted streets, the cocky confidence of the police. The sight of a police van used for transporting defendants or convicts brought back memories of torture stories I had come across as a reporter.
One of the most frightening sights was the president s motorcade. Preparations for its passage would begin well in advance-policemen would line up along the route, with their backs to the road. The motorcade would go at about 150 kilometers per hour-a police car would speed past first and then another; and then the president s big, shiny, black armored car would swoosh past flanked by two black Jeeps, with commandos in black uniforms and balaclavas hanging out of the open windows and holding their automatic guns at the ready, as if about

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