Uzbekistan History - History

Uzbekistan History - History

2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

March 11, 2010

Uzbekistan is an authoritarian state with a population of approximately 27.6 million. The constitution provides for a presidential system with separation of powers among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. In practice President Islam Karimov and the centralized executive branch dominated political life and exercised nearly complete control over the other branches. Of the 150 members of the lower house of parliament, 135 are elected, and 84 of the 100 senators are chosen in limited elections open only to elected members of local councils. The president appoints the remainder. In December 2007, the country elected President Karimov to a third term in office; however, according to the limited observer mission from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the government deprived voters of a genuine choice. Parliamentary elections took place on December 27. While noticeable procedural improvements were observed, the elections were not considered free and fair due to government restrictions on eligible candidates and government control of media and campaign financing. Civilian authorities generally maintained effective control of the security forces.

The government continued to commit serious abuses and authorities restricted political and civil liberties. Human rights problems included citizens' inability to change their government; tightly controlled electoral processes with limited opportunities for choice; instances of torture and mistreatment of detainees by security forces; incommunicado and prolonged detention; arbitrary arrest and detention; denial of due process and fair trial; poor prison conditions; restrictions on freedom of speech, press, assembly, and association; governmental control of civil society activity; restrictions on religious freedom, including harassment and imprisonment of religious minority group members; restrictions on freedom of movement for some citizens; violence against women; and government-compelled forced labor in cotton harvesting. Human rights activists and journalists who criticized the government were subject to physical attack, harassment, arbitrary arrest, politically motivated prosecution, and forced psychiatric treatment.


Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom From:

a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life

There were no confirmed reports that the government or its agents committed politically motivated killings.

Family members reported several deaths in custody of prisoners who were serving sentences on charges related to religious extremism. In each such case, family members reported that the body of the prisoner showed signs of beating or other abuse, but authorities pressured them to bury the body before a medical professional could examine it. Reported deaths that fit this pattern during the year included Abdulatif Ayupov (he also suffered from tuberculosis), Ismat Hudoyberdiyev, Negmat Zufarov, and Golib Mullajonov. All had been convicted of crimes related to religious extremism.

On January 22, a credible report cited the deaths in custody from unknown illness of Muhammad Artykov, allegedly one of 23 businessmen involved in the trial that led to the 2005 Andijon events, and alleged Andijon participant Abdurahmon Kuchkarov, although family members reported Kuchkarov was healthy when they saw him a few months before his death. Khoshimjon Kadirov, also arrested after the Andijon events, was reportedly beaten to death in November 2008, but his death was not reported until this year.

On April 30, Nozimjon Mamadaliev, a Kyrgyz citizen living in Ferghana, died in custody. Although the official forensic report stated that he died of natural causes, relatives took photographs of the body that appeared to show signs of severe beating.

Nurillo Maqsudov, the leader of a group in exile that calls attention to the 2005 Andijon massacre, reported in September that four of his relatives died in jail in 2008; he claimed their bodies showed clear signs of torture.

There were no updates in the cases of Odil Azizov, Fitrat Salkhiddinov, Takhir Nurmukhammedov, and two other unnamed prisoners. The courts convicted all of them on charges related to religious extremism, and they reportedly died after being tortured in prison in May 2008 and in 2007.

The government has not agreed to authorize an independent international investigation of the alleged killing of numerous unarmed civilians and others during the violent disturbances in Andijon in 2005. The government claimed, based on its own 2005 investigation, that armed individuals initiated violence by firing on government forces. The estimated number of dead varied between the government's total of 187 and eyewitnesses' reports of several hundred.

b. Disappearance

There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances. There continued to be numerous unconfirmed reports of disappearances dating from 2005 of persons who were present at the violent disturbances in Andijon. The welfare and whereabouts of several of the refugees who were forcibly returned to the country during the year remained unknown.

On July 30, unknown Uzbek speakers abducted a citizen refugee and his young son in Kyrgyzstan and reportedly returned them to the country. They interrogated the man for several days, releasing him after he promised to help his abductors find his brother, a human rights activist who may have escaped from prison.

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

Although the constitution and law prohibit such practices, law enforcement and security officers routinely beat and otherwise mistreated detainees to obtain confessions or incriminating information. Torture and abuse were common in prisons, pretrial facilities, and local police and security service precincts. Prisoners were subjected to extreme temperatures. Observers reported several cases of medical abuse, and one known person remained in forced psychiatric treatment.

In June Human Rights Watch (HRW) concluded that the government had not taken actions in response to a 2007 report from the UN Committee Against Torture that torture and abuse were systematic throughout the investigative process and had not improved since a 2003 UN special rapporteur on torture report drew the same conclusion. The 2007 UN report stated that despite an amendment to the criminal code addressing elements of the definition of torture, punishment for violations was rare and did not reflect the severity of the crimes. The government responded to these accusations by claiming that the access they had provided to the UN special rapporteur had made it harder to address the issue of abuse, and consequently, future visits by the special rapporteur would be denied.

In November a local human rights organization reported that a former security guard at the British embassy claimed he was beaten into confessing to espionage charges. The former guard also claimed he was tortured with severe cold, fire, electricity, and starvation and was kept in a remand center for nine months before being transferred to a prison facility, during which time his family did not know his location.

In December two sisters serving prison sentences alleged that officers raped and mistreated them in prison. One of the sisters subsequently gave birth to a child in prison. On December 25, the Tashkent City Criminal Court initiated a criminal case against the accused officers.

Authorities convicted and punished 60 Ministry of Internal Affairs officials for wrongdoing.

In January a court upheld the sentencing of four police officers to eight to 17 years' imprisonment for beating to death Angren resident Muzaffar Tuychiyev.

Authorities reportedly gave harsher than normal treatment to individuals suspected of extreme Islamist political sympathies, notably pretrial detainees who were alleged members of banned extremist political organizations Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT) or Nur. Local human rights workers reported that authorities often paid or otherwise induced common criminals to beat suspected extremists and others who opposed the government. Two human rights defenders who were arrested reported beatings in pretrial detention facilities.

There were reports of politically motivated medical abuse. Victims could request through legal counsel that their cases be reviewed by an expert medical board. In practice, however, such bodies generally supported the decisions of law enforcement authorities.

Family members of several inmates, who are considered political prisoners, complained throughout the year of the declining health of the prisoners and asserted that the prisoners? requests for medical evaluation and treatment went unheeded. Among these prisoners were Alisher Karamatov, Yusuf Juma, Solijon Abdurahmanov, and Akzam Turgunov.

There was no update on the case of Jamshid Karimov, a journalist, human rights activist, and nephew of President Karimov, who has remained under forcible detention at Samarkand Psychiatric Hospital since 2006.

Prison and Detention Center Conditions

Prison conditions remained poor and in some cases life threatening. There continued to be reports of severe abuse, overcrowding, and shortages of food and medicine. Tuberculosis and hepatitis were endemic in the prisons, making even short periods of incarceration potentially life-threatening. Family members frequently reported that officials stole food and medicine that were intended for prisoners.

There were reports that authorities did not release prisoners, especially those convicted of religious extremism, at the end of their terms. Instead, prison authorities contrived to extend inmates' terms by accusing them of additional crimes or claiming the prisoners represented a continuing danger to society. These accusations were not subject to judicial review.

According to prison officials, the government held approximately 42,000 inmates at 58 detention facilities. Men, women, and juvenile offenders were held in separate facilities.

On April 10, the parliament amended national legislation to allow the human rights ombudsman unfettered access to prisons to monitor conditions. According to this law, authorities at pretrial detention facilities, where many abuses reportedly occurred, are required upon a detainee's request to arrange a meeting between the detainee and a representative from the Human Rights Ombudsman's Office. The law also provides that correspondence between prisoners and the Ombudsman's Office is confidential. In its 2008 report, released in June, the ombudsman reported on 29 prisoner complaints during the year, an increase from four complaints it undertook to resolve in 2007.

In October the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) resumed its visits to detention facilities under the responsibility of the GUIN (penitentiary system under the authority of the Ministry of Interior). This program follows the six-month trial program that the ICRC completed in September 2008. The ICRC reported that unlike the 2008 six-month pilot program, this program was of unlimited duration. There were some reports that high-profile prisoners were transported to alternate facilities just prior to ICRC visits and were returned after the visits were completed.

Several knowledgeable sources reported that authorities had made some progress in the past three years in improving prison conditions, notably in combating the spread of tuberculosis.

d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention

The constitution and law prohibit arbitrary arrest and detention; however, these practices continued.

Role of the Police and Security Apparatus

The Ministry of Interior (MOI) controls the police, who are responsible for law enforcement and maintenance of order. The National Security Service (NSS), headed by a chairman who answers directly to the president, deals with a broad range of national security and intelligence issues, including corruption, organized crime, and narcotics. Corruption among law enforcement personnel remained a problem. Police routinely and arbitrarily detained citizens to extort bribes. Impunity was a problem, and the government rarely punished officials responsible for abuses. The MOI's main investigations directorate has procedures to investigate abuse internally and to discipline officers accused of rights violations, and it reported that 60 officers had been disciplined. A human rights department formed within the Ministry of Interior has taken actions in some police brutality cases. The Human Rights Ombudsman's Office, affiliated with the parliament, also has the power to investigate such cases.

The MOI's main investigations directorate incorporated human rights training into officers' career development. On November 5, the ministry reported it has provided human rights training to more than 2,000 officers during the year. The OSCE provided training in human rights practices, focusing on basic international human rights documents, to 175 Ministry of Interior officers. The ministry also opened 250 libraries, located in police stations in every district, with human rights literature in both Russian and Uzbek that various international organizations provided. Officers and the public can borrow materials from the library. The ministry has also started an awards program to acknowledge officers who submit their ideas on best practices or articles on human rights issues.

Arrest Procedures and Treatment While in Detention

Under the law, any decision to arrest accused individuals or suspects must be reviewed by a judge, and defendants have the right to legal counsel from the time of arrest, although that right is not always strictly observed. The judge conducting the arrest hearing is not allowed to sit on the panel of judges during the individual's trial, and detainees have the right to request a hearing with a judge to determine whether they should remain incarcerated or be released. Within 24 hours of taking a suspect into custody, the arresting authority must notify a relative or close friend of the detention and question the detainee. Suspects have the right to remain silent. Detention without formal charges is limited to 72 hours, although a prosecutor may extend it for an additional seven days, at which time the person must either be charged or released. In practice judges granted arrest warrants in nearly all cases, and authorities continued to hold suspects after the allowable period through various means. There were complaints that authorities tortured suspects before notifying either family members or attorneys of arrests. The 72-hour period begins only when a suspect is brought to the police station.

Once charges are filed, a suspect may be held in pretrial detention for as long as three months during an investigation. The law permits extension of that period at the discretion of the appropriate court upon a motion by the investigating authority. A prosecutor may release a prisoner on bond pending trial, although in practice authorities frequently ignored these legal protections. Those arrested and charged with a crime may be released without bail until trial on the condition that they provide assurance that they will appear at trial and register each day at a local police station. State-appointed attorneys are available for those who do not hire private counsel.

On March 9, the cabinet adopted a decree requiring that all defense attorneys pass a comprehensive relicensing examination. Among those who did not pass were several experienced and knowledgeable defense lawyers, including noted defense attorney Ruhiddin Komilov, who had represented human rights activists and independent journalists. Rights activists asserted that the change is targeted at defense attorneys who take human rights cases. Several activists facing criminal charges during the year reported difficulties in finding attorneys to represent them. Amendments to the criminal procedure code in 2008 abolished provisions that allowed unlicensed "public defenders" to represent individuals in criminal and civil hearings. Prior to this revision, a human rights defender could serve as a defendant?s advocate at trial, particularly in politically sensitive cases or for indigent defenders.

There were reports that police arrested persons on false charges such as extortion or tax evasion as an intimidation tactic to prevent them or their family members from exposing corruption or interfering in local criminal activities.

Authorities continued to arrest persons arbitrarily on charges of extremist sentiments or activities, or association with banned religious groups. Local human rights activists reported that police and security service officers, acting under pressure to break up HT cells, frequently detained and mistreated family members and close associates of suspected HT members. Coerced confessions and testimony in such cases were commonplace.

On July 28, police arrested Oyazimhon Hidirova, a human rights defender active on farmer's issues, on charges of tax evasion and hooliganism, and beat her while she was in custody. On August 31, the government granted her amnesty and released her.

On October 2, officials sentenced Farhad Mukhtarov to five years in prison on what many analysts believe were politically motivated charges of fraud and bribery. Mukhtarov was an active member of the Human Rights Alliance. On December 3, the Tashkent city criminal court reduced Mukhtarov?s sentence to four years.

On November 11, police assaulted two human rights activists shortly after they met with a returned political opposition figure. Police detained one of the activists for several hours before releasing him.

On November 24, the Akhunbabaev District Court sentenced Ganikhon Mamatkhanov to five years in prison on what were widely believed to be trumped-up charges of extortion and attempted bribery. Mamatkhanov was a member of the Independent Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan and actively promoted farmers? rights.

Police harassed and sometimes arbitrarily detained members of the opposition Birlik, Free Farmers, Erk, and Birdamlik parties.

During the year pretrial detention typically ranged from one to three months. The number of persons held in pretrial detention was unknown although estimates ranged from approximately 3,400 to 4,000 persons at any one time.

In general prosecutors exercised discretion over most aspects of criminal procedure, including pretrial detention. Detainees had no access to a court to challenge the length or validity of pretrial detention. Even when authorities filed no charges, police and prosecutors sought to evade restrictions on the duration a person could be held without charges by holding persons as witnesses rather than as suspects.

In March the parliament expanded the number of crimes for which reconciliation procedures may be used. At a conference on legal and judicial reform on June 25, authorities reported that reconciliation procedures were being used more frequently to resolve criminal cases, especially those involving minors, women, and the elderly.


On August 28, the senate issued an amnesty decree for 33,354 persons. Amnesty actions included full exemption from further incarceration, transfer to a prison with lighter conditions, or stopping a criminal case at the pretrial or trial stage.

On August 10, operating under a 2008 decree, the government amnestied and released Sattor Irzayev, a member of the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan who was convicted of libel and extortion in 2005 following the Andijon events.

On November 7, the government amnestied and released well-known businessman and political opposition figure Sanjar Umarov. Umarov served four years in prison following his arrest in October 2005 for allegedly illegal financial dealings.

Local prison authorities have considerable discretion in determining who qualifies for release, as they determine whether a prisoner is "following the way of correction" or "systematically violating" the terms of incarceration. "Violation of internal prison rules" is often cited as a reason for denying amnesty and for extending sentences. Political and religious prisoners often were often found ineligible for amnesty based on these provisions. For example, Jehovah's Witnesses Olim Turayev, Abdubannov Akmedov, and Farrukh Zaripov, convicted in 2008 for activities related to religion, applied for amnesty. Soon thereafter they were found guilty of violating internal prison regulations. According to the terms of the amnesty, all three became ineligible for amnesty. Norboy Kholjigitov, who was widely considered a political prisoner, applied for and was denied amnesty on the basis of alleged administrative violations.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

Although the constitution provides for an independent judiciary, the judicial branch took its direction from the executive branch, particularly the general prosecutor's office, and exercised little independence in practice.

Under the law, the president appoints all judges for five-year terms. Removal of supreme court judges must be confirmed by parliament, which in practice complies with the president's wishes.

The Karakalpakstan Supreme Court has jurisdiction over the Karakalpakstan Republic. Decisions of district and provincial courts may be appealed to the next level within 10 days of a ruling. In addition, a constitutional court reviews laws, decrees, and judicial decisions to ensure compliance with the constitution. Military courts handle all civil and criminal matters that occur within the military. The Supreme Court is a court of general jurisdiction that handles selected cases of national significance.

Trial Procedures

The criminal code specifies a presumption of innocence. There are no jury trials. Most trials are officially open to the public, although access was sometimes restricted in practice. Trials may be closed in exceptional cases, such as those involving state secrets, or to protect victims and witnesses. Courts often demanded that international observers obtain written permission from the court chairman or from the supreme court. Permission was difficult and time consuming to obtain, but international observers, including foreign diplomats, were granted access to some hearings.

Authorities generally announced trials, including those of alleged religious extremists, only at the court in which the trial was to take place and only one or two days before the trial began.

Generally, a panel of one professional judge and two lay assessors, selected either by committees of worker collectives or neighborhood committees, presided over trials. The lay judges rarely spoke, and the professional judge usually deferred to the recommendations of the prosecutor on legal and other matters.

Defendants have the right to attend court proceedings, confront witnesses, and present evidence. These rights generally were observed, including in high-profile human rights and political cases. In the vast majority of criminal cases prosecutors brought to court, however, the verdict was guilty. Defendants have the right to hire an attorney, and the government provides legal counsel without charge when necessary. State-appointed defense attorneys routinely acted in the interest of the government rather than of their clients. Judges in some cases denied defendants the right to an attorney of choice. There were several reports that investigators pressured defendants to refuse legal counsel. Defense counsel was not always well qualified and, in some cases, the role of defense counsel was limited to submitting confessions and pleas for mercy.

During the year defendants had improved access to qualified defense counsel due to the establishment in 2008 of a 24-hour on-call system. Several private law firms provided qualified defense counsel at no expense, and some were financed through international donors.

Government prosecutors order arrests, direct investigations, prepare criminal cases, and recommend sentences. Although the criminal code specifies a presumption of innocence, in practice the prosecutor's recommendations generally prevailed. If a judge's sentence does not correspond with the prosecutor's recommendation, the prosecutor may appeal the sentence to a higher court. Verdicts often are based solely on confessions and witness testimony, which are extracted through torture, threats to family members, or other means of coercion. Legal protections against double jeopardy are not applied in practice.

The law provides a right of appeal to defendants. In political cases appeals did not result in reversals of convictions, but in other cases appeals resulted in reduced or suspended sentences.

Defense attorneys had limited access in some cases to government-held evidence relevant to their clients' cases. In most cases, prosecution was based solely upon defendants' confessions or incriminating testimony from state witnesses, particularly in cases involving suspected HT members. Lawyers may, and occasionally did, call on judges to reject confessions and to investigate claims of torture. Judges often did not respond to such claims or dismissed them as groundless.

Political Prisoners and Detainees

The government denied that there were any political prisoners, and it was impossible to determine the actual number of prisoners or detainees held on political grounds. Observers estimated that 13 to 25 individuals were political prisoners. While a few political prisoners were released during the year, other individuals were imprisoned on what appeared to be politically motivated charges for crimes such as extortion and hooliganism. Starting in October the government allowed the ICRC to visit prisons, but family members of political prisoners reported that in the past monitors were not given access to political prisoners or detainees.

Family members of Yusuf Juma, a poet sentenced in April 2008 to five years in prison for allegedly assaulting a police officer during a protest, reported repeatedly that his health was deteriorating. Family members also reported that guards continued to torture Juma and that prison administrators often delayed or refused their attempts to visit him.

Civil and Judicial Procedures and Remedies

Although the constitution provides for it, the judiciary is not independent or impartial in civil matters. Citizens may file suit in civil courts, if appropriate, on cases of alleged human rights violations. There were reported cases in which courts decided in favor of plaintiffs. However, there were also reports that bribes to judges influenced decisions in civil court cases.

Civil courts operate on the city or district level, as well as the interdistrict and provincial levels. There are also supreme civil courts with jurisdiction over the Karakalpakstan Republic.

Economic courts with jurisdiction over the individual provinces, the city of Tashkent, and the Karakalpakstan Republic handle commercial disputes between legal entities. Decisions of these courts may be appealed to the supreme economic court.

f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The constitution and law prohibit such actions ((per p15 instructions)); however, authorities did not respect these prohibitions in practice. The law requires a search warrant for electronic surveillance, but there is no provision for a judicial review of such warrants.

There were reports of police and other security forces entering homes of human rights activists and religious figures without a warrant. Members of Protestant churches who held worship services in private homes reported that on numerous occasions armed security officers raided services and detained church members on suspicion of illegal religious activity.

Citizens generally assumed that security agencies routinely monitored telephone calls and employed surveillance and wiretaps of persons involved in opposition political activities.

The government continued to use an estimated 12,000 neighborhood committees ("mahallas") as a source of information on potential extremists. Committees served varied social support functions, but they also functioned as a link among local society, government, and law enforcement. Mahalla committees in rural areas tended to be more influential than those in cities.

There were credible reports that police, employers, and neighborhood committees harassed family members of human rights activists.

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

The constitution and law provide for freedom of speech and the press, but the government generally did not respect these rights in practice, and freedom of expression was severely limited.

The law limits criticism of the president, and public insult to the president is a crime punishable by as long as five years in prison. The law specifically prohibits articles that incite religious confrontation and ethnic discord or that advocate subverting or overthrowing the constitutional order.

The law holds all foreign and domestic media organizations accountable for the "objectivity" of their reporting, bans foreign journalists from working in the country without official accreditation, and requires that foreign media outlets be subject to mass media laws. The promotion of religious extremism, separatism, and fundamentalism, as well as the instigation of ethnic and religious hatred, are all prohibited. It bars legal entities with more than 30 percent foreign ownership from establishing media outlets in the country.

During the year police reportedly arrested some individuals for possessing literature of the banned religious extremist, anti-Semitic, and anti-Western group HT. Police also charged persons for possessing writings of the moderate Nur group.

The Uzbekistan National News Agency (UzA) cooperated closely with presidential staff to prepare and distribute all officially sanctioned news and information. In September UzA reported that more than 1,100 newspapers, magazines, news agencies, electronic media outlets, and Web sites were registered with the Uzbek Agency for Press and Information, which is responsible for monitoring all media. The cabinet of ministers owns and controls three of the country's most influential national daily newspapers, Pravda Vostoka (Russian language), Halq So'zi (Uzbek language), and Narodnoe Slovo (Russian language). The government, or government-controlled political parties or social movements, and the Tashkent municipal government and regional "hokimiyats" (administrations) own or control several other daily and weekly publications. Articles in state-controlled newspapers reflected the government's viewpoint. The main government newspaper published selected international wire stories.

The government also published news stories on official Internet sites including, operated by the National News Agency of Uzbekistan, and, operated by the ministry of foreign affairs (MFA). A few Web sites, most notably,, and, purported to be independent, yet their reporting reflected the government's viewpoint.

The government allowed publication of a few private newspapers with limited circulation containing advertising, horoscopes, and similar features and some substantive local news, including infrequent stories critical of government socioeconomic policies. Three private national Russian-language newspapers--Novosti Uzbekistana, Zerkalo XXI Veka, and Biznes Vestnik Vostoka--carried news and editorials exclusively favorable to the central government, as did two Uzbek-language newspapers, Hurriyat (owned by the Journalists' Association) and Mohiyat (owned by Turkiston-Press, a nongovernmental information agency loyal to the state). Russian Federation newspapers and a variety of Russian Federation tabloids and lifestyle publications were available, and a modest selection of other foreign periodicals was available in Tashkent.

The four state-run channels dominated television broadcasting. Cable and satellite television channels were also widely watched in Tashkent. Numerous privately owned regional television stations and privately owned radio stations were influential among local audiences. The government tightly controlled broadcast and print media. Journalists and senior editorial staff in state media organizations reported that there were officials whose responsibilities included censorship. Government officials allegedly provided verbal directives to journalists not to cover certain events sponsored by foreign embassies. There were reports, however, that regional television outlets broadcast some moderately critical stories on local issues.

The government continued to refuse Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Voice of America, and BBC World Service permission to broadcast from within the country. It also refused to accredit foreign journalists and local correspondents for those or other Western media, including Reuters and the Associated Press.

Harassment against journalists continued during the year. Police and security services subjected print and broadcast journalists to arrest, harassment, intimidation, and violence, as well as to bureaucratic restrictions on their activity.

In June authorities accused eight journalists from Yetti Iglim newspaper and Irmoq magazine (private, Uzbek language, scientific publications) of membership in the banned Nur religious movement. A court convicted all of the accused, with their sentences ranging from six and one-half years to 12 years in prison. The journalists, all of whom were graduates of Turkish schools, denied the charges.

On July 30, a court convicted independent journalist Dilmurod Sayid on charges of extortion and bribery and sentenced him to 12.5 years' imprisonment. Sayid's arrest came soon after he published articles regarding corruption of local government officials. Sayid's appeal remained under consideration. A foreign diplomat attempted to attend the initial appeal hearing but was denied entrance.

Independent journalist Salijon Abdurahmanov from Nukus served the first year of his 10-year sentence for what were widely considered politically motivated drug charges. His family reported in July that his health was deteriorating in prison.

On October 28, Reporters without Borders reported that law enforcement officials detained two Tashkent-based journalists crossing the border to Kyrgyzstan. Police questioned the journalists extensively and confiscated audio tapes of their interviews, but allowed them to return to Tashkent following the incident.

During the year there were reports that the government harassed journalists from state-run and independent media outlets in retaliation for their contacts with foreign diplomats. However, more journalists were able to participate during the year at foreign embassy events in Tashkent than in previous years.

Training of international media groups fell under higher scrutiny during the year. In May Charter IV, a Ukrainian nonprofit organization, planned to conduct training sessions for journalists in Tashkent. The government expressed its opposition shortly prior to their planned start, and the organizers cancelled the sessions.

It was unclear if during the year the National Association of Electronic Mass Media continued to use its directors' close relations with the government to persuade local television stations to join the association and occasionally broadcast prescribed government-produced programming, as it reportedly had done in the past.

Government security services and other offices regularly gave publishers articles and letters to publish under fictitious bylines, as well as explicit instructions about the types of stories permitted for publication. Often there was little distinction between the editorial content of a government or privately owned newspaper. There was little independent investigative reporting. The number of critical newspaper articles remained low and their scope narrow. Widely read tabloids, however, were able to publish some articles that lightly criticized government policies and discussed issues viewed as somewhat controversial, such as trafficking in persons.

The criminal and administrative codes impose significant fines for libel and defamation. The government used charges of libel, slander, and defamation to punish journalists, human rights activists, and others who criticized the president or the government.

On December 16, the Uzbek Communication and Information Agency initiated a defamation case against well-known photographer Umida Ahmedova for her work that was included in the documentaries "The Burden of Virginity" and "Customs of Men and Women." The documentaries looked at poverty and gender equality in the country, and the charges alleged that the photographs damaged the country?s image.

Internet Freedom

The government allowed access to the Internet and reported in September that the number of Internet users in the country was approximately 2.6 million. However, Internet service providers, at the government's request, routinely blocked access to Web sites or certain pages of Web sites the government considered objectionable. The government blocked several domestic and international news Web sites and those operated by opposition political parties.

The media law defines Web sites as media outlets, requiring them, as all local and foreign media to register with the authorities and to provide the names of their founder, chief editor, and staff members. Web sites are not required to submit hard copies of publications, as traditional media outlets are.

A 2007 law requires Internet providers to block access to blogs that discuss any aspect of the country, and according to local journalists, this injunction was enforced. Several online forums remained accessible, however. These forums allowed registered users to post comments and read discussions on a range of social issues facing the country.

A decree requires that all Web sites seeking a "uz" domain register with the state Agency for Press and Information. The decree generally affected only government-owned or government-controlled Web sites. Opposition Web sites and those operated by international NGOs or media outlets tended to have domain names registered outside the country.

Academic Freedom and Cultural Events

The government continued to limit academic freedom and cultural events. Authorities occasionally required department head approval for university lectures or lecture notes, and university professors generally practiced self-censorship. Numerous university students reported that universities taught mandatory courses on books and speeches of the president and that missing any of these seminars constituted grounds for expulsion.

Although a decree prohibited cooperation between higher educational institutions and foreign entities without explicit prior approval by the government, foreign institutions often were able to obtain such approval by working with the MFA, especially for foreign language projects. Some school and university administrations continued to pressure teachers and students not to participate in conferences sponsored by diplomatic missions.

On June 27, NSS officials halted the Kyrgyzstan-based American University of Central Asia (AUCA) attempt to conduct an entrance examination in the country by confiscating materials, interrogating students and administrators, and canceling the exam. The university representatives returned to Bishkek without their test materials; the confiscated materials remained with the government. The government stated that the exams were stopped because the AUCA did not have permission from the MFA.

On July 16, government officials shut down a foreign embassy outreach event explaining how to apply to foreign universities.

There were a few instances of individuals choosing not to participate in international exchange programs after being threatened with the loss of their jobs, but there were no reports of individuals actually losing their jobs after participating in such programs. During the year the government expressed concern over a foreign embassy-sponsored high school exchange program, which the embassy suspended. Authorities also cancelled the planned professional development conference for former international educational and professional exchange program participants.

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

Freedom of Assembly

The constitution and law provide for freedom of assembly, but in practice the government often restricted this right. Authorities have the right to suspend or prohibit rallies, meetings, and demonstrations for security reasons. The government did not routinely grant the required permits for demonstrations. Citizens are subject to large fines for facilitating unsanctioned rallies, meetings, or demonstrations by providing space or other facilities or materials, as well as for violating procedures concerning the organizing of meetings, rallies, and demonstrations.

Authorities used arrests to prevent or stop peaceful protests. For example, on May 13, Tashkent police dispersed human rights activists who had gathered to commemorate the victims of the 2005 Andijon events by laying a wreath at a popular memorial. About 20 activists tried to take part, but only one activist managed to reach the monument, where he was arrested. On June 10, police arrested five human rights activists when they tried to submit a statement detailing government human rights abuses to the Embassy of the Czech Republic, which at the time held the chairmanship of the European Union.

On October 5 and 15, small groups of human rights activists (five and four, respectively) were detained when they staged demonstrations against the use of child labor in the cotton harvest in the district of Jizzakh.

On November 11, police broke up a small group of persons protesting the alleged torture of a family member in prison.

On November 23, police detained in their homes, brought to police stations, or confiscated the passports of as many as 30 human rights activists who attempted to attend an annual meeting of the opposition party Birdamlik. The meeting, scheduled for the following day, was canceled.

In several other cases, however, human rights activists reported that local residents protested economic conditions, and human rights activists occasionally held small protests, unmolested and apparently without prior permission of the authorities.

Freedom of Association

While the law provides for freedom of association, the government continued to restrict this right in practice. The government sought to control NGO activity and has cited the perceived role that internationally funded NGOs allegedly have in fomenting dissent as well as concerns about unregulated Islamic groups. The law broadly limits the types of groups that may be formed and requires that all organizations be registered formally with the government. The law allows for a six-month grace period for new organizations to operate while awaiting registration, during which time they are classified officially as "initiative groups." Several NGOs continued to function as initiative groups for periods longer than six months. The government allowed nonpolitical associations and social organizations to register, but complicated rules and a cumbersome government bureaucracy made the process difficult and allowed opportunities for government obstruction. The government compelled most local NGOs to register with a government-controlled NGO association, the purpose of which was to control all funding and activities. The degree to which NGOs were able to operate varied by region, as some local officials were more tolerant of NGO activities.

The administrative liability code imposes large fines for violations of procedures governing NGO activity, as well as for "involving others" in illegal NGOs. The law does not specify whether "illegal NGOs" are those that were forcibly suspended or closed or those that were simply unregistered. The administrative code also imposes penalties against international NGOs for engaging in political activities, activities inconsistent with their charters, or activities the government did not approve in advance. The government enforced the 2004 banking decree that, although ostensibly designed to combat money laundering, also complicated efforts by registered and unregistered NGOs to receive outside funding.

The government claimed that there were more than 5,000 registered NGOs. Credible sources estimated approximately 300 independent NGOs remained following the closure of more than 300 local NGOs and 17 or more foreign-funded NGOs in the post-Andijon period. The government reported that 290 NGOs received financial support from the government. The government also reported that there were 15 professional unions and 100 sports associations.

Although a 2008 tax code had rescinded tax exemptions for NGOs, NGOs and legal experts successfully lobbied during the year to retain a tax structure favorable to NGOs.

In December 2008 the government officially registered the French NGO ACTED, which focuses on public health issues. This was the first instance when an NGO that was forced to leave the country in 2007 regained its legal status.

On April 30, the Finance Ministry issued an order requiring all humanitarian aid and technical assistance recipients to submit to the ministry information on bank transactions.

The law criminalizes membership in organizations the government deems extremist, including Tabligh Jamoat and other groups branded with the general term "Wahhabi." The law also banned the extremist Islamist political organization HT for promoting hate and praising acts of terrorism. Although HT maintained that it was committed to nonviolence, the party's virulently anti-Semitic and anti-Western literature called for the overthrow of secular governments, including those in Central Asia to be replaced with a worldwide Islamic government.

The government has pressured and prosecuted members of the Islamic group Akromiya (Akromiylar) since 1997. Independent religious experts claimed that Akromiya was an informal association promoting business along Islamic religious principles. The government claimed that it was a branch of HT and that it attempted, together with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, to overthrow the government through armed rebellion in the 2005 Andijon demonstrations.

c. Freedom of Religion

The constitution provides for freedom of religion and separation of church and state. In practice, however, the government and laws restricted religious activity, especially for unregistered groups.

A significant majority of the population are Muslims. The government promoted a single version of Islam through the control of the Muftiate, which in turn controlled the Islamic hierarchy and the content of imams' sermons and published Islamic materials. The Religious Affairs Committee, under the cabinet of ministers, oversaw registered religious activity and approved all religious literature. Many sources reported that mosques overflowed for lack of space during Friday prayers. The government allowed a small number of unofficial, independent mosques to operate under the watch of government-sanctioned imams.

The law requires all religious groups and congregations to register and provides strict and burdensome registration criteria, including that each group present to the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) a list of at least 100 national citizen members and that a congregation already have a valid legal address. These and numerous other provisions enabled the government to cite technical grounds for denying a group's registration petition, such as grammatical errors in a group's charter. These provisions mostly affected small, unregistered congregations, especially those viewed as being engaged in missionary activity, which is illegal. In contrast, registered minority congregations faced fewer restrictions on their activities.

Numerous small Protestant churches remained unregistered, including churches in Tashkent, Chirchiq, Samarkand, Nukus, Gulistan, Andijon, and Gazalkent. Most did not apply because they did not expect local officials to register them or because they had too few members to qualify for registration. Often they were afraid to give the authorities a list of their members, especially ethnic Uzbeks. No Baptist church has registered successfully since 1999. No Protestant churches were registered in Karakalpakstan. Only one Jehovah's Witnesses congregation was registered. On February 19, authorities denied the seventh application filed by Jehovah?s Witnesses to register a congregation in Tashkent legally. New mosques faced difficulties gaining registration as well.

Any religious service conducted by an unregistered religious organization is illegal. Police frequently dispersed meetings of unregistered groups, which were generally held in private homes, occasionally detaining, imposing fines, and beating members of the groups.

Proselytizing is a crime, as is the teaching of religion without state approval. These provisions resulted in several prosecutions. Jehovah's Witnesses faced arbitrary fines, arrest, and imprisonment on charges of proselytizing or illegally teaching religion. Convicted Jehovah's Witnesses were not allowed to read or possess a Bible in prison.

Christian congregations, that included members of traditionally Muslim ethnic groups, often faced official harassment, legal action, or, in some cases, mistreatment. The Baha'i community faced similar mistreatment. There were reports from Protestant Christians that authorities delayed or denied their exit visas. There were other reports that Christians were questioned and searched when leaving the country to take part in a religious event.

On February 25, the Yakkasaray District Court in Tashkent upheld the convictions of six Jehovah?s Witnesses following a police raid of an apartment in which they were meeting. Two persons were jailed for 10 days, one for 15 days, and three were fined the equivalent of 1,400,000 soum ($1,000).

On February 28, the Mirzo Ulugbek District Court in Tashkent sentenced two Jehovah's Witnesses to 15 days in jail following a meeting that was raided by police.

On July 27, a court sentenced Timur Chekparbayev and one other person to 15 days' detention for proselytizing and missionary activity, following the raid of a study meeting at the Baha'i Center in Tashkent. Authorities brought Chekparbayev, a citizen of Kazakhstan living legally in the country, to the Kazakhstan border and deported him immediately following his detention. The same court fined four other participants of the meeting 16,000 soum each ($10) on similar charges. The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Uzbekistan reported that on August 15, police again entered the Baha'i Center in Tashkent and confiscated hundreds of books.

On October 29, a court found Pavel Peichov, chairman of the Evangelical Christian Baptist Union, and his colleagues Yelena Kurbatova and Dmitri Pitirimov guilty of tax evasion and involving children in religious activities for the operation of a Baptist summer camp for children. The court fined each 260 times the monthly wage, an estimated total of 26,243,100 soum ($17,280), and prohibited them from participating in any administrative or commercial activity for the next three years. On December 4, the Tashkent City Court granted amnesty for the charges resulting in the fine but left intact the restriction on administrative and commercial activities.

In November a Tashkent district court convicted Igor Morozov, the local representative for the Jehovah?s Witnesses in the country, of teaching religion illegally and fined him 3,364,500 soum ($2,200).

Most Muslims arrested on political charges were tried for anticonstitutional activity and participating in "religious extremist, separatist, fundamentalist, or other banned organizations," a charge that encompasses both political and religious extremism. The overwhelming majority of those arrested on this charge were accused of HT or Nur membership, with a marked increase in the number of arrests and convictions of Nur members. The government commonly arrested members of other groups outside of the control of the official religious authorities and labeled many of them Wahhabi or "extremist." The government states that it does not consider repression of persons or groups suspected of extremism to be a matter of religious freedom, but rather of preventing armed resistance to the government. However, convictions of individuals associated with HT and similar organizations have lacked due process and have also involved credible allegations of torture. Most defendants received sentences ranging from three to 14 years; some received sentences of 16 to 20 years.

On July 6, a Samarkand court sentenced 11 members of Nur between the ages of 19 and 31 to between seven and 11 years in prison.

On November 6, authorities in Karshi arrested one woman and several other persons for allegedly holding an unauthorized religious meeting. The woman reportedly taught a religious course for women at a local mosque, but the charges arose from a meeting she held in her home. Authorities confiscated films and literature from her home when they arrested her. At year's end no charges had been filed, but she remained in custody.

Authorities severely mistreated persons arrested on suspicion of extremism.

Prison authorities reportedly denied many prisoners suspected of Islamic extremism the right to practice their religion freely and, in some circumstances, did not allow them to possess a Koran. Authorities reportedly punished with solitary confinement and beatings inmates who attempted to carry out religious practices despite prison rules, or who protested the rules.

The law limits religious instruction to officially sanctioned religious schools and state-approved instructors and does not permit private instruction or the teaching of religion to minors without parental consent.

The government controlled the publication, importation, and distribution of religious literature. The government required a statement in every domestic publication indicating the source of its publication authority. Possession of literature deemed extremist could lead to arrest and prosecution. Illegal production, storage, importation, or distribution of religious materials could result in fines of 20 to 100 times the minimum monthly wage for individuals and 50 to 150 times the minimum wage for groups, as well as confiscation and destruction of the literature.

In February, March, and September, documentaries on state-controlled television described Nur as "an extremist sect" that aimed to establish a pan-Turkic state. They also described several convictions for Nur membership with sentences between six and one-half and eight years in prison. In October a documentary critical of Jehovah's Witnesses and of a Baptist congregation aired on state-run television.

There were numerous reports of enforcement of a ban on wearing hijabs (headscarves) in public schools with accusations that some officials forcibly removed them. There were also several reports that girls wearing the headscarves in school were ridiculed by their peers and sometimes by teachers. There were no reports of arrests or harassment of Muslim believers based on outward expressions of their religious belief such as beards, veils, or mosque attendance. The law allows only those serving in religious organizations to wear "cult robes" (religious clothing). In practice this provision did not appear to be enforced.

Societal Abuses and Discrimination

Society is generally tolerant of religious diversity but not of proselytizing. In particular, Muslim, Russian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Jewish leaders reported high levels of acceptance in society. Other minority religious groups, especially churches with ethnic Uzbek converts, encountered difficulties stemming from social prejudices. There were persistent reports of discrimination against and harassment of ethnic Uzbek Muslims who converted to Christianity. There were some reports of local mosques banning women and persons below 18 from participation in prayer, allegedly based on the directive of local religious leaders.

There were no reports of anti-Semitic acts or patterns of discrimination against Jews. There were eight registered Jewish congregations, and observers estimated the Jewish population to be approximately 10,000 persons, concentrated mostly in Tashkent, Samarkand, and Bukhara. Their numbers were declining due to emigration, largely for economic reasons. There were no reports during the year of HT members distributing anti-Semitic materials.

For a more detailed discussion, see the 2009 International Religious Freedom Report at

d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of Refugees, and Stateless Persons

The constitution and law provide for free movement within the country and across its borders, although the government limited this right in practice. On November 23, the government closed the border with Kazakhstan due to concerns over the spread of the H1N1 influenza virus. Citizens could cross the border to Kazakhstan if they carried an invitation from someone in Kazakhstan or for reasons deemed serious, such as for health care or to attend a funeral. Borders are sometimes closed around national holidays due to security concerns. Permission from local authorities is required to move to a new city. The government rarely granted permission to move to Tashkent, and local observers reported that persons had to pay bribes of up approximately 100,000 soum ($67) to obtain the registration documents required to move.

The government required citizens to obtain exit visas for foreign travel or emigration and, although it generally granted the visas, local officials often demanded bribes. There were reports during the year that the government delayed exit visas for human rights activists to prevent their travel abroad; they also limited their freedom of movement within the country. A government registration system required citizens to obtain a special stamp from local authorities in their place of residence before leaving the country. Citizens generally continued to be able to travel to neighboring states, and the stamp requirement was not uniformly enforced. Land travel to Afghanistan remained difficult. Citizens needed permission from the NSS to cross the border.

Foreigners with valid visas generally could move within the country without restriction.

In October Bahodir Choriev, the leader of the Birdamlik opposition party, returned to the country after living for five years in a western country. Authorities closely monitored his activities and, in several instances, persons with whom Choriev met were questioned or beaten by law enforcement officers. On December 11, authorities deported Choriev. At year's end several other opposition political figures and human rights activists remained in voluntary exile.

Emigration and repatriation were restricted since the law does not provide for dual citizenship. In practice returning citizens had to prove to authorities that they did not acquire foreign citizenship while abroad, or otherwise they would face prosecution. In practice citizens often possessed dual citizenship and traveled without impediment.

The government noted that citizens residing outside the country for more than six months can register with the country?s consulates, and such registration was voluntary. However, there were reports that failure to register has rendered citizens residing abroad and children born abroad stateless.

Protection of Refugees

The country is not a party to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. Its laws do not provide for the granting of asylum or refugee status, and the government has not established a system for providing protection to refugees. In practice the government provided some protection against the expulsion or return of refugees to countries where their lives or freedom would be threatened due to their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. As in the previous year, there were reported cases of the government forcibly removing Afghan refugees from the country. In practice the government did not allow the UNHCR to provide assistance to refugees and asylum seekers.

During the first 10 months of the year, the UN Development Program (UNDP) continued to assist with monitoring and resettlement of approximately 600 refugees, most of them Afghans, who remained in the country. The UNDP also performed some of the UNHCR's humanitarian functions, as it has done since the government forced the UNHCR office to close in 2006. The UNHCR assisted refugees from the country who had fled into Kyrgyzstan following the 2005 unrest in Andijon.

During the year there were reports that harassment of Afghan refugees continued. Since 2007 the MFA has not considered UNHCR mandate certificates as the basis for extended legal residence, and persons carrying such certificates must apply for the appropriate visa or face possible deportation. The government considered the refugees from Afghanistan and Tajikistan economic migrants, and offials sometimes subjected them to harassment and bribery. Most refugees from Tajikistan were ethnic Uzbeks; unlike their counterparts from Afghanistan, those from Tajikistan were able to integrate into and were supported by the local population. Some refugees from Tajikistan were officially stateless or faced the possibility of becoming officially stateless, as many carried only old Soviet passports rather than Tajik or Uzbek passports.

The UNHCR reported that Afghan refugees had no access to the legal labor force and therefore had limited means to earn a livelihood. There have been reports that Afghan refugees frequently decide not to seek police protection or redress through the courts because they fear harassment or retribution from officials.

During the year the government pressured several other countries to forcibly return citizens who were under UNHCR protection abroad.

In January a court in Namangan sentenced Abdumumin Dadakhonov, allegedly the personal driver for a leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, to 18 years in prison on charges of religious extremism following his arrest and extradition in 2008 from Ukraine. Rights activists objected to the extradition on the ground that he would be subjected to torture upon his return.

On August 19, the media in Russia reported that a review board of the St. Petersburg city court overturned a decision to extradite Orinboy Ergashev to the country on charges related to religious extremism. The review panel found that extradition would violate the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, given the possibility that Ergashev would be tortured if returned to his country.

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change their Government

The constitution and law provide citizens with the right to change their government peacefully. In practice this was not possible through peaceful and democratic means. The government severely restricted freedom of expression and suppressed political opposition. The government was highly centralized and ruled by President Karimov and the executive branch through sweeping decree powers, primary authority for drafting legislation, and control of government appointments, most of the economy, and the security forces.

Elections and Political Participation

In 2008 President Karimov swore himself in for a third term as president after his 2007 reelection in a process that fell short of international democratic norms. The OSCE's limited election observation mission noted that there were more candidates than in previous elections, but all candidates publicly endorsed the incumbent's policies. There was no competition of political views, administrative hurdles kept other potential candidates off the ballot, and the government tightly controlled the media. The OSCE mission noted procedural problems and irregularities in vote tabulation.

The constitution prohibits a president from seeking a third term in office, an apparent contradiction the government has never publicly addressed. The OSCE declined to monitor the 2000 election in which President Karimov was reelected to a second term, determining that preconditions did not exist for it to be free and fair. A 2002 referendum, which multilateral organizations and foreign embassies also refused to observe, extended presidential terms from five to seven years.

Parliamentary elections were held on December 27. Changes to election law ensured that only members of political parties (all of whom supported the president) were eligible to run for office. For the first time, however, the political parties engaged in debate and criticized each other?s proposed policies. Election observers noted that the elections themselves appeared to be conducted with fewer irregularities than in previous years. Multiple voting instances were the most commonly observed problem, attributed to a tradition of "family voting," in which one person casts votes for an entire family.

The total number of registered political parties decreased from five to four in June 2008 after the Milliy Tiklanish ("National Rebirth") party absorbed the Fidokorlar ("Selfless") party. The three remaining registered parties are the People's Democratic Party of Uzbekistan , the Adolat ("Justice") Social-Democratic Party, and the Liberal Democratic Party of Uzbekistan. The government controlled all registered political parties and provided their funding.

The law allows independent political parties, but it also gives the MOJ broad powers to interfere with parties and to withhold financial and legal support to parties that are judged to oppose to the government.

The law makes it extremely difficult for genuinely independent political parties to organize, nominate candidates, and campaign. To register a new party requires 20,000 signatures. The procedures to register a candidate are burdensome. The law allows the MOJ to suspend parties for as long as six months without a court order. The government also exercised control over established parties by controlling their financing and media exposure.

Only registered political parties may nominate candidates. In 2008 the number of deputies in parliament's lower house (the Oliy Majlis) expanded from 120 to 150, with half of the new seats reserved for members of the new "Ecological Movement of Uzbekistan." With this change, 10 percent of the Oliy Majlis members are now appointed rather than elected. All members of the senate are either appointed by the president (16) or chosen in limited elections open only to elected members of local councils (84).

The law prohibits judges, public prosecutors, NSS officials, persons serving in the armed forces, foreign citizens, and stateless persons from joining political parties. The law prohibits parties based on religion or ethnicity; those that oppose the sovereignty, integrity, and security of the country and the constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens; those that promote war or social, national, or religious hostility; and those that seek to overthrow the government.

Several political parties were banned or denied registration following the 2005 Andijon events. Former party leaders remained in exile, and their parties struggled to remain relevant without a strong domestic base.

There were 33 women in the 150-member lower chamber of the parliament and 15 women in the 100-member senate. At year?s end there was one woman in the 28-member cabinet. In January 2008 Dilorom Toshmuhammedova--leader of the progovernment Adolat Social-Democratic party and one of four officially recognized presidential candidates in the December 2007 election--became the first female speaker of the lower house of parliament, the highest government position a woman has ever held.

At the end of the year, there were nine members of ethnic minorities in the lower house of parliament and 15 minorities in the senate.

Section 4 Official Corruption and Government Transparency

The law provides criminal penalties for official corruption; however, the government did not implement the law effectively, and officials frequently engaged with impunity in corruption.

In 2008 President Karimov signed a law to ratify the United Nations Convention Against Corruption. The law states that all government agencies must provide citizens with the opportunity to examine documents, decisions, and other materials affecting their freedoms. In practice the government has not implemented these rights, although the Prosecutor General's Office formed a working group to address implementation of its obligations under the convention, and the government cohosted with the UN and OSCE a workshop on implementing these obligations.

The World Bank corruption indicators gave the country particularly low marks for accountability and control of corruption, with both indicators dropping over the last five years. The public generally did not have access to government information, and information normally considered in the public domain was seldom reported.

Corruption was a severe problem in the university, law, and traffic enforcement systems. There were several reports that bribes to judges influenced the outcomes of civil suits. On March 24, authorities accused an NGO, Ezgulik, of defamation after it named officials who allegedly requested a bribe from the organization. There were reports that citizens encountered corruption from neighborhood committees ("mahallahas"), frequently paying a bribe to receive social benefit payments that were distributed through the mahallas.

The government reported that investigative agencies prosecuted 1,138 officials for official crimes. As a result, seven officials were disciplined, 624 were dismissed from the positions, and 189 persons were criminally charged for economic crimes including corruption. In May a Tashkent district court sentenced Bahtiyor Sirliboyev, former inspector for crime prevention under the MOI, to seven years in prison for receiving bribes.

On March 23, state-controlled television announced that law enforcement arrested a former officer of the criminal investigation unit in a region of Tashkent. The former official allegedly led a ring of corrupt police who extorted money from citizens under fabricated charges.

A state-controlled newspaper reported on October 12 that the Kashkadarya regional criminal court sentenced a judge from the Shahrisabz district to 10 years in prison for receiving a bribe.

Section 5 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights

A number of domestic human rights groups operated in the country, although they were hampered by a fear of official retaliation. The government frequently harassed, arrested, and prosecuted human rights activists.

The government officially acknowledges two domestic human rights NGOs--Ezgulik and the Independent Human Rights Organization of Uzbekistan. Others were unable to register but continued to function at both the national and local levels. Organizations that attempted to register in previous years and remain unregistered included the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan, Mazlum ("Oppressed"), and Mothers against the Death Penalty and Torture. These organizations did not exist as legal entities, but they continued to function despite difficulty renting offices or conducting financial transactions. They could not open bank accounts, making it virtually impossible to receive funds legally. Unregistered groups were liable to government prosecution.

Government officials occasionally met with domestic human rights defenders, some of whom noted that they were able to resolve cases of human rights abuses through direct engagement with authorities.

Police and security forces continued to harass domestic human rights activists and NGOs during the year. Security forces regularly threatened and intimidated human rights activists to prevent their activities and dissuade them from meeting with foreign diplomats, and occasionally police and other government authorities ordered activists to cease contact with foreigners. Unknown assailants attacked human rights activists. Authorities regularly detained or arrested human rights activists and subjected them to house arrest or false criminal charges. Government officials publicly accused specific activists of conspiring with international journalists to discredit the government.

Since the 2005 Andijon events, the government severely restricted the activities of international human rights NGOs and subjected their employees to frequent harassment and intimidation. Government officials and the government-controlled media frequently accused international NGOs of participating in an international "information war" against the country.

The government continued to restrict the work of international bodies and foreign diplomatic missions and severely criticized their human rights monitoring activities and policies. The government followed a standard policy of auditing all international NGOs annually. Generally following an audit, the MOJ sent each audited NGO a letter outlining the violations discovered during the process, with a 30-day time limit to resolve the violations.

The government reguired that NGOs coordinate their training sessions or seminars with government authorities. NGO managers believed this amounted to a requirement for prior official permission from the government for all NGO program activities.

Two foreign-based international NGOs that attained registration in 2008 continued operations, presenting several conferences and trainings with high-level officials and international experts.

HRW remained registered, but it has not resumed operations since the government in 2008 refused to accredit HRW's country director and prohibited him from reentering the country.

In July World Vision announced it would cease operations (effective June 2010) due to the difficult operational environment in the country.

Although the OSCE has been able to do only limited work on human rights issues since 2006, the government approved several proposed OSCE projects during the year, including in the "human dimension," the human rights part of the OSCE's work, to which the government had objected in past years.

The human rights ombudsman, affiliated with parliament, had the stated goals of promoting observance and public awareness of fundamental human rights, assisting in shaping legislation to bring it into accordance with international human rights norms, and resolving cases of alleged abuse. The Ombudsman's Office mediates disputes between citizens who contact it and makes recommendations to modify or uphold decisions of government agencies, but its recommendations are not binding. The ombudsman has offices in all provinces of the country, as well as in the Karakalpakstan Republic and Tashkent. The ombudsman released a report in June for 2008, stating that it received nearly 10,000 petitions and took action in 5,676 cases. The majority of these dealt with the rights to life, freedom, privacy, human treatment, and respect for dignity, as well as the right to a fair trial.

Throughout the year the Ombudsman's Office hosted meetings and conferences with law enforcement, judicial representatives, and limited international NGO participation to discuss its mediation work and means of facilitating protection of human rights.

The National Human Rights Center is a government agency responsible for educating the population and officials on the principles of human rights and democracy and for ensuring that the government complies with its international obligations to provide human rights information. During the year the center responded to the UN Human Rights Council's report on the country's December 2008 Universal Periodic Review, accepting some criticism but denying many of the allegations or stating that the issues were the country's internal affair. International organizations reported cooperation with the center in raising awareness of recent legal reforms among government officials, including the adoption of an antitrafficking law and International Labor Organization (ILO) antichild labor conventions adopted in 2008.

Section 6 Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

The law prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, gender, disability, language, or social status. The constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, gender, and language, but it does not specifically prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability. Societal discrimination against women and persons with disabilities existed, and child abuse persisted.


The law prohibits rape, including rape of a "close relative," but the criminal code does not specifically prohibit marital rape, and no cases were known to have been tried in court. Cultural norms discouraged women and their families from speaking openly about rape, and instances were almost never reported in the press.

The law does not specifically prohibit domestic violence, which remained common. While the law punishes physical assault, police often discouraged women from making complaints against abusive husbands, and abusers rarely were taken from their homes or jailed. Physical abuse of females was considered a personal affair rather than a criminal act. Such cases were usually handled by family members or elders within the mahallah and rarely came to court. Local authorities emphasized reconciling husband and wife, rather than addressing the abuse.

As in past years, there were reported cases in which women attempted or committed suicide as a result of domestic violence. Information indicates that most cases went unreported, and there were no reliable statistics on the problem's extent. Observers cited conflict with a husband or mother-in-law, who by tradition exercised complete control over a wife, as the usual reason for suicide. NGOs assisting survivors of suicide attempts reported inconsistent cooperation from officials and neighborhood committees.

The law prohibits prostitution; however, it remained a problem. Police enforced the laws against prostitution unevenly; some police officers harassed and threatened prostitutes with prosecution to extort money.

The law does not explicitly prohibit sexual harassment, but it is illegal for someone to coerce a woman with whom he has a business, financial, or other dependent relationship into a sexual relationship. Social norms and the lack of legal recourse made it difficult to assess the scope of the problem.

Couples and individuals generally may decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children, and to have the information and means to do so free from discrimination, coercion, and violence. However, there were isolated reports in Khorezm and Andijon of forced sterilization of women who had more than two children.

Contraception generally was available to both men and women. In most districts, maternity clinics were available and staffed by fully trained doctors, who gave a wide range of prenatal and postpartum care. There were some reports that women in rural areas chose in greater numbers than in urban areas to give birth at home, without the presence of skilled medical attendants.

Men and women generally are equally diagnosed and treated for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.

The law prohibits discrimination based on gender, and the National Women's Committee (NWC) exists to promote the legal rights of women. Women historically have held leadership positions across all sectors, although not with the same prevalence as men, but cultural and religious practices limited their role in society. There were few data to show whether women experienced discrimination in access to employment, credit, or pay equity for substantially similar work.

The NWC is tasked to work with the UNDP on implementation of both the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the 2007 National Action Plan to address recommendations of the CEDAW Committee. The NWC conducts awareness-raising efforts such as a September 23 seminar in Nukus, Karakalpakstan, on protection from discriminative customs, forced and early marriages, and domestic violence. In December the NWC and the MOI jointly conducted training for Tashkent police officers on the protection of women and children, specifically addressing preventing and resolving family conflicts.


Citizenship is derived by birth within the country's territory (jus soli) and from one's parents (jus sanguinis). The government generally registers all births immediately.

The law provides for children's rights and for free compulsory education for 12 years through basic and secondary school and does so equally for both boys and girls. In practice shortages and budget difficulties meant many families had to pay education expenses. Teachers earned extremely low salaries and expected regular payments from students and their parents for good grades.

The government subsidized health care, including for children, and boys and girls enjoyed equal access. As with education, low wages for doctors and poor funding of the Soviet era health sector led to a widespread system of informal payments for services; in some cases this was a barrier to access for the poor. With some exceptions, those without an officially registered address, such as street children and children of migrant workers, did not have access to government health facilities.

Child abuse generally was considered an internal family matter, and government officials were reluctant to discuss the issue openly with international organizations. Elders on neighborhood committees frequently took an interest at the local level in line with the committees' responsibilities to maintain harmony and order within the community.

The law states that the minimum age for marriage is 17 for women and 18 for men, but a mayor of a district may lower the age by one year in exceptional cases. Child marriage was not prevalent, although in some rural areas girls as young as 15 were married occasionally in religious ceremonies not officially recognized by the state. According to a 2006 report endorsed by UNICEF and the Uzbek State Statistical Committee, 5 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 19 were married. The same report also found that 12.5 percent of women between the ages of 20 to 49 were married before they became 18.

A statutory rape law states that a child younger than 14 cannot legally consent to having sexual relations with an adult, and the punishment for statutory rape is 15 to 20 years of imprisonment. The production, demonstration, and distribution of child pornography (of persons younger than 21) is punishable by a fine of 100 to 200 times the minimum wage or up to three years' imprisonment.

There were reports that girls were trafficked from the country for the purpose of sexual exploitation and that girls were engaged in forced prostitution. There also were reports that boys were trafficked to Kazakhstan and Russia.

Men are required to serve one year of military duty at the age of 18. A person who is determined by a medical commission to be physically unable to serve is offered "alternative service," which usually means paying 30 percent of one's salary to the Ministry of Defense for one year. University students can defer their service, and some universities have programs that will substitute for military service. There are also options to pay a fee in lieu of service.

Trafficking in Persons

The law prohibits trafficking in persons for all purposes; however, there were reports that persons were trafficked to, from, through, and within the country. The government took action to combat this problem.

In 2008 the government strengthened penalties against convicted traffickers. The law, officially titled "Trafficking in Persons," formally defines and criminalizes all severe forms of human trafficking. The base punishment for first-time offenders is three to five years in prison. The punishment increases to eight to 12 years in prison for instances of trafficking two or more persons, using force or threat, recidivism, group conspiracy, abuse of official position, and cases involving the death of trafficking victims. Unlike under the previous code, the new law generally does not grant amnesty to individuals who receive prison sentences of 10 years or more.

The country was primarily a source and, to a lesser extent, a transit point for trafficking women and girls for commercial sexual exploitation and men for labor exploitation. NGOs and the government reported labor trafficking was much more prevalent than trafficking for sexual exploitation and was likely rising due to poor economic conditions.

During the year there were credible reports that women were trafficked to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), China, India, Russia, Kazakhstan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka. There were also reports of victims transiting Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Georgia, and Azerbaijan for other destinations. According to a local antitrafficking NGO, most female trafficking victims were sent to the UAE and Turkey via Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. Labor trafficking victims, mostly male, typically were trafficked to Kazakhstan and Russia to work in the construction, agricultural, and service sectors. Some transit of trafficked persons also may have taken place from neighboring countries and to or from countries for which the country was a transportation hub--Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, South Korea, and the UAE. Women between the ages of 17 and 30 were vulnerable to sexual exploitation, and men of all ages were targets for labor trafficking. A local antitrafficking NGO registered 617 cases of human trafficking during the year involving 371 female victims and 246 male victims, compared with 529 in 2008 and 659 in 2007.

Traffickers operating within nightclubs, restaurants, or prostitution rings solicited women, many of whom engaged in prostitution. In large cities such as Tashkent and Samarkand, traffickers used fraudulent newspaper advertisements for marriage and fraudulent work opportunities abroad to lure victims. Travel agencies promising tour packages and work in Turkey, Thailand, and the UAE were also used to recruit victims. In most cases, traffickers confiscated travel documents once the women reached the destination country. Victims of labor trafficking were typically recruited in local regions and driven to Kazakhstan or Russia, where they were often sold to "employers." Traffickers held victims in a form of debt bondage, particularly in the case of those trafficked for sexual exploitation.

Recruiters tended to live in the same neighborhood as the potential victims and often may have known the victims. These recruiters introduced future victims to the traffickers, who provided transportation, airline tickets, visas, and instructions about meeting a contact in the destination country. There were also reports of former victims being used to recruit new victims.

All law enforcement agencies are charged with upholding the antitrafficking provisions of the criminal code. Enforcement appeared to improve during the year. In October the MOI reported that between January and September, authorities opened 959 criminal cases against suspected traffickers: 318 for sex trafficking and 641 for labor trafficking. On September 17, a state publication noted that between January and September, there were 2,941 victims of trafficking in the country.

State-controlled media consistently warned against the risk of being trafficked and reported the convictions of alleged traffickers. For example, on July 29, state-controlled television in Samarkand broadcast a program dedicated to victims of human trafficking, noting that in the first six months of the year, nearly 100 labor migrants from Samarkand died abroad. On September 24, a television station reported in a program dealing with trafficking that authorities uncovered 60 case of human trafficking in the Ferghana Region in the first eight months of the year, and of that number, 27 charges against 34 persons went to court.

Government offices with responsibility for fighting trafficking included the MOI's Office for Combating Trafficking, Crime Prevention Department, and Department of Entry-Exit and Citizenship; the NSS's Office for Fighting Organized Crime, Terrorism, and Drugs; the Office of the Prosecutor General; the Ministry of Labor; the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and the State Women's Committee. A government Inter-Agency Commission on Combating Trafficking in Persons meets quarterly and consists of representatives from the foregoing government entities.

There were no reported investigations of government corruption in trafficking.

There were no reports that the government prosecuted victims of trafficking for illegal migration in the course of being trafficked. There were unconfirmed reports of law enforcement officials involved in trafficking-related bribery and fraud.

Repatriated victims often faced societal and familial problems upon return. Internationally supported NGOs operated two shelters in Tashkent and Bukhara to help victims reintegrate into society. There were no reports of local police harassing shelter residents. The NGO implementer reported a good working relationship with authorities, who often contacted the shelter with new referrals. During the year NGOs reported assisting 336 victims (241 female and 95 male) trafficked for sexual and labor exploitation.

On November 18, the government opened the Republican Rehabilitation Center, which began providing medical, psychological, and legal services for as many as 35 victims of trafficking at any one time. Unlike the two NGO-run shelters, this center provides services to men, as well as women.

The government cooperated with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to provide assistance to repatriated trafficking victims. The IOM also reported that police, consular officials, and border guards referred women returning from abroad who appeared to be trafficking victims to the organization for services. The government routinely allowed the IOM to assist groups of returning women at the airport, help them through entry processing, and participate in the preliminary statements the victims gave to the MOI.

In several different regions, antitrafficking NGOs, with the participation of law enforcement and local government officials, conducted seminars for orphanages, secondary schools, and higher education institutions; placed antitrafficking notices in local newspapers; and developed informational brochures and educational manuals for teachers and students. In July the IOM completed a three-year project with a local NGO to combat trafficking in persons and protect victims. The program trained approximately 1,300 law enforcement officers in prosecuting trafficking cases and providing assistance to victims. Through this program the government sent delegations on study visits in June to Poland and July to Turkey to meet with counterparts, compare best practices, and improve international communication related to prosecuting trafficking cases and providing assistance to victims.

During the year the government continued to focus on trafficking prevention. A specialized antitrafficking unit in the MOI continued to cooperate with NGOs on antitrafficking training for law enforcement and consular officials. The unit also supported victims who testified against traffickers and organized public awareness campaigns. The Agency for External Labor Migration (under the Labor Ministry) takes anonymous reports of trafficking through two hotlines and via its Web site.

Government-controlled media routinely carried targeted articles and programs raising awareness about the dangers of trafficking for both sexual and labor exploitation. Government-owned television stations worked with local NGOs to broadcast antitrafficking messages and to publicize the regional NGO hotlines that counseled actual and potential victims. The government allowed NGOs to place posters about trafficking hazards on public buses, in passport offices, and in consular offices abroad.

The Department of State's annual Trafficking in Persons Report can be found at

Persons with Disabilities

On February 27, the government signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The convention clarifies the rights of persons with disabilities and identifies area where adaptations must be made to allow persons with disabilities to exercise their rights effectively.

On March 5, an advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities was convicted of bribery and given a suspended sentence of two years and a fine of 12 million soums ($8,500). Many believe the charges were fabricated as a result of his advocacy and criticism of the government.

There was some societal discrimination against persons with disabilities. The government provided care for persons with mental disabilities in special homes.

In March the cabinet of ministers adopted a resolution that requires medical facilities and all relevant public and private organizations to adopt and implement individual rehabilitation programs for persons with disabilities, to include medical, professional, and social rehabilitation of the disabled.

The Labor Ministry continued to participate in a two-year ACCESS (Accessibility, Civic Consciousness, Employment, and Society Support for Persons with Disabilities) project with several international partners, including the UNDP, UNICEF, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and the UN Population Fund. The purpose of the project was to combat societal discrimination against persons with disabilities and expand social integration, employment, and inclusive educational opportunities. The program trained NGOs, journalists, government authorities, social workers and employment specialists as well as university students with disabilities.

During the year there were no reports of facilities fined for being inaccessible to persons with disabilities. In 2008 the government amended the law to include provisions imposing fines of up to 70 times the monthly minimum wage for such violations.

Although many public places lacked access for persons with disabilities, there was some wheelchair access throughout the country. The law does not provide effective safeguards against arbitrary or involuntary institutionalization. During the year human rights activists reported that a number of persons with mental or physical disabilities were held at psychiatric hospitals despite showing no signs of mental illness. The Ministry of Health controlled access to health care for persons with disabilities, and the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection facilitated employment of persons with disabilities.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The constitution provides for the right of all citizens to work and to choose their occupation. Although the law prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of ethnicity or national origin, ethnic Russians and other minorities expressed concern about limited job opportunities. Senior positions in the government bureaucracy and business generally were reserved for ethnic Uzbeks, although there were numerous exceptions.

The law does not require Uzbek language ability to obtain citizenship, but language remained a sensitive issue. Uzbek is the state language, and the constitution requires that the president speak it. The law also provides that Russian is "the language of interethnic communication." Russian was spoken widely in the main cities, and Tajik was spoken widely in Samarkand and Bukhara.

Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Homosexual activity is punishable by up to three years' imprisonment. There were no known lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) organizations. There was no known perpetrated or condoned violence against the LGBT community. There were no known reports of official or societal discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing, statelessness, or access to education or health care, but this may be attributed to the social taboo against discussing homosexual activity rather than to equality in such matters.

Other Societal Violence or Discrimination

There was a social stigma against HIV/AIDS patients. Persons living with HIV reported social isolation by neighbors, public agency workers, health personnel, law enforcement officers, landlords, and employers after their HIV status became known. Recruits in the armed services found to be HIV-positive were summarily expelled. The MOI's Department of Corrections continued efforts to raise awareness about the realities of HIV/AIDS in its training for prison staff. The government's restrictions on local NGOs left only a handful of functioning NGOs to assist and protect the rights of persons with HIV/AIDS.

Section 7 Worker Rights

a. The Right of Association

The law provides workers the right to form and join unions of their choice. In practice workers generally did not exercise this right because they believed that, as in Soviet times, attempts to create alternative unions would be quickly repressed. The law declares unions independent of governmental administrative and economic bodies, except where provided for by other laws, for example, those that regulate fund and asset management by the unions. In practice unions remained centralized and dependent on the government. The state-run Board of the Trade Union Federation of Uzbekistan was the largest union, with official reports of 60 percent of employees participating. Although leaders of the federation could be elected by the union board, in reality they are appointed by the president's office. All regional and industrial trade unions at the local level were state-owned. There were no independent unions. The law prohibits discrimination against union members and officers, but this prohibition was irrelevant due to the unions' close relationship with the government.

The law neither provides for nor prohibits the right to strike. There were unconfirmed reports that strikes took place in some factories because of delays in salary payments.

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

Unions and their leaders were not free to conduct activities without interference from the employer or from government-controlled institutions. The law provides the right to organize and to bargain collectively; in practice this right was not exercised. Unions were government-organized institutions that had little power, although they did have some influence on health and work safety issues.

The law states that unions may conclude agreements with enterprises, but because unions were heavily influenced by the state, collective bargaining in any meaningful sense did not occur. The ministry of labor and social protection and the ministry of finance, in consultation with the Council of the Federation of Trade Unions (CFTU), set wages for government employees. In the small private sector, management established wages or negotiated them individually with persons who contracted for employment. There is no state institution responsible for labor arbitration.

The law gives unions oversight for individual and collective labor disputes.

A free trade zone has been established in Navoi, but there are no special laws or exemptions from regular labor law within that zone.

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The constitution and law prohibit forced or compulsory labor, including by children, except as legal punishment for such offenses as robbery, fraud, or tax evasion, or as specified by law; however, there were reports that such practices occurred, particularly during the cotton harvest, when authorities reportedly compelled medical workers, government personnel, schoolchildren, university students, and others to pick cotton.

d. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment

Laws exist to protect children from exploitation in the workplace, but those laws were not effectively enforced. The national labor code establishes the minimum working age at 16 and provides that work must not interfere with the studies of those younger than 18. The law establishes a right to a part-time job beginning at age 15, and children with permission from their parents may work a maximum of 24 hours per week when school is not in session and 12 hours per week when school is in session. Children between the ages of 16 and 18 may work 36 hours per week while school is not in session and 18 hours per week while school is in session. Children as young as seven or eight years old worked in family businesses in cities during school holidays and vacations, and children also worked in street vending, services, construction, building materials manufacturing, and transportation. Many schools, particularly in rural areas, closed for six to eight weeks during the fall cotton harvest and sent students to work in the fields.

The government did not invite or allow the ILO to conduct a baseline assessment of child labor in the cotton sector. The government took limited steps during the year to implement its April 2008 adoption of ILO Conventions 182 (On the Worst Forms of Child Labor) and 138 (On the Minimum Age of Employment), its September 2008 adoption of a national action plan on implementation of the ILO Conventions that called for abolishing the mobilization of children for the annual cotton harvest, and the prime minister's 2008 decree banning child labor in the cotton harvest.

On June 10, a local human rights group in Karakalpakstan reported that all students in lyceums, colleges, institutes, and universities were forced to weed cotton fields under conditions of inadequate food, drinking water, and housing.

On June 26, the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection issued a list of jobs with unfavorable working conditions, including cotton picking, in which children younger than 18 cannot be involved.

On December 21, President Karimov signed laws strengthening the penalties for using child labor. Under the new rules, public officials who violate labor legislation involving a minor is subject to a fine of five to 10 times the minimum wage (an increase from two to five times the minimum wage), and private individuals are fined one to three times the minimum wage.

On December 24, the president signed amendments to article 77 of the labor code and to article 20 of the law "On the Guarantees of the Rights of the Child." The new amendments abolish a provision that allowed 14-year-olds to be involved with "light work" that did not interfere with education or hinder the health or development of the child. The minimum age for employment remains at 16, although 15-year-olds may engage in light work with the permission of a parent.

During the year's fall harvest, there were reports that schools closed in the Syrdarya, Gulistan, Tashkent, Khoresm, Jizzakh, Bukhara, and Surhandarya regions. Reports stated that local administrators closed schools and transported students as young as 12 or 13 years of age to work in the cotton fields, but the majority of the students were from grades nine through 12, or generally over age 14. Unlike in the past, classes remained in operation at the younger grade levels. Students made between 70 and 80 soum ($.05) per kilo (2.2 pounds) of cotton picked and were expected to pick 20 to 40 kilos per day, depending on their age, for a daily wage of between 1,400 and 3,200 soum ($1.00 to 2.00)per day.

There were several reports that working conditions for children deteriorated during the year, with neither farmers nor the government providing sufficient food, water, or lodging for the children.

Universities also reportedly closed and sent students to work in the fields. One report stated that some university students who refused to work in the cotton fields were expelled, and several others were threatened with expulsion. Teachers and school administrators were expected to participate either as foremen or by picking cotton directly. Other government workers were mobilized to work in the fields.

The government does not allow independent organizations to assess comprehensively child labor in the cotton sector, nor does it provide figures on the use of child labor in the country.

The legislation does not explicitly provide jurisdiction for inspectors from the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection to focus on child labor enforcement. Enforcement of child labor laws is under the jurisdiction of the Labor Ministry, the prosecutor general, and the MOI and its general criminal investigators. There were no known prosecutions for using child labor during the year.

The law provides both criminal and administrative sanctions against violators. The government reportedly reprimanded 150 officials for not complying with national orders to refrain from using child labor but did not provide information about the nature of the sanctions. Enforcement was difficult due in part to long-standing societal acceptance of government-compelled child labor as a method of cotton harvesting.

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

The Ministry of Labor and Social Protection, in consultation with the CFTU, sets and enforces the minimum wage. The minimum wage from August until December was 33,645 soum ($22) per month; on December 1, it was raised to 37,680 soum ($25). This did not provide a decent standard of living for a worker and family.

The law establishes a standard workweek of 40 hours and requires a 24-hour rest period. Overtime pay exists in theory, but it was rarely paid in practice.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Protection establishes and enforces occupational health and safety standards in consultation with unions. Reports suggested that enforcement was not effective. Although regulations provide for safeguards, workers in hazardous jobs often lacked protective clothing and equipment. In accordance with the Law on Workers' Safety, workers legally may remove themselves from hazardous work if an employer has failed to provide adequate safety measures for the job. Generally workers did not exercise this right, as it was not effectively enforced and employees feared retribution by employers.

In 2007 the country signed bilateral labor migration agreements with Russia to increase protections on a range of labor rights for the country's labor migrants. Under the agreement, citizens can apply through the Agency on External Labor Migration to receive permits to work legally in Russia. As of September approximately 5,000 persons had taken advantage of the program to work in Russia's agriculture and construction sectors. However, this was a small fraction of the estimated one million or more citizens already working in Russia, most of them illegally. The agency also has enabled more than 3,000 Uzbek citizens to work legally in South Korea. In addition, the Tashkent Employment Bureau established ties with Poland enabling citizens to travel there legally to work in construction.

There were reports that the number of women day laborers had increased, particularly in Khorezm region. In June a local NGO of that district reported that women day laborers fell outside the protection of the law and were hidden from socially oriented programs directed toward the protection and advancement of the rights of women. According to the report, they worked in difficult labor conditions and their health suffered accordingly. The UNDP reported that it was working with the government on a project aimed at protecting the human rights of women involved in labor migration and at increasing the quality of services relevant governmental and nongovernmental bodies provide to women migrant workers.

History of Tashkent

Tashkent is the capital of Uzbekistan and the largest city in Central Asia. Tashkent, like many cities in Uzbekistan, is an ancient city. Its age is more than 2000 years. In written sources, the history of Tashkent dates back to the ancient times. According to the local pronunciation, the place was called “Chach”. The main city was called Chacha, i.e., Chachkent or Shashkent. Subsequently, the meaning of the word changed and turned into its consonance – Tashkent.

Around the end of the II – beginning of I century BC, the Chinese chronicles mentioned the city as Uni. The scientists believe that Uni was located on the territory of modern Tashkent.

In the VI-VII centuries AD, the territory of Tashkent was the part of the Chach State, and Turkic governors lived here. In 713, the first Arab troops entered Shash. The conquest failed, and after that, the Maliks had ruled Shash for decades. Only in the year 751, after a big battle between the Arabs and the Chinese, who also tried to seize Shash, the Arabs consolidated their victory. One unique monument has been survived in Tashkent from that period – Khast Imam Ensemble.

The city became a trade and craft centre by the IX-X centuries. The citadel and the inner city – Shakhristan were located on the hills. Now it is the centre of the old “Chorchu” bazaar. A palace and a prison were located beyond the walls of the citadel. The part of the tower of the ancient citadel wall could be seen near the Tashkent Circus until recently. Some gates of the citadel led into the suburbs - Rabad, others – towards Shakhristan. The latter was surrounded by a separate wall and had three gates.

In 1220, the Mongols led by Genghis Khan conquered Central Asia. During the Mongol conquest, the Mongols and the new masses of Turkic nomads mixed with the local population.

Between the end of the XIV and the beginning of XV centuries, Tashkent was very often mentioned in the description of the struggle, because of which the state of Amir Temur first developed and then fell apart. Some of the survived architectural monuments in Tashkent are associated with this era, for example, the buildings complex of near the Shaykhantaur Mazar. Among them is Yunus Khan Mausoleum that is interesting for its carved, stone half-columns in the interior.

At the beginning of the XVI century, Tashkent became the part of the Sheibanids State. In the second half of the XVI th century, Abdullah Khan of Bukhara began the siege of Tashkent and captured it. In 1723, Tashkent was subordinated to the Kalmyks.

In the second half of the XVIII century, the city began to recognize the authority of Bukhara again. During this period, Tashkent was divided into four parts. One of the city’s mayor, Yunus, began the battle with other mayors and seized the power. Under Yunus’ rule, a city wall surrounded Tashkent, because the city had to withstand constantly the struggle with the Kokand Khanate. Nevertheless, in 1810, Tashkent was taken, first by the Kokand Khanate, and then in 1865 – by Russian troops.

At the beginning of the XX century, the city began to change – the so-called “New City” was built. Tashkent was divided into two parts – the old city and the new one. However, by 1940, according to the project, it was supposed to unite the two parts of the city. As a result of the reconstruction, a compact territory with developed infrastructure was obtained. The city was landscaped, impressive architectural structures, squares, parks, which can be seen to this day, were built.

In recent years, Tashkent has experienced renewal and reconstruction. Today’s Tashkent is a modern industrial and economic metropolis, but with elements of the ancient and rich history.

Recent History of Uzbekistan

As a result of an armed invasion of Russian troops in the 60-ies of the 19th century the Kokand Khanate was abolished and the Turkestan Governor-Generalship was established on July 11, 1867. The Emirate of Bukhara and the Khiva Khanate received the status of a protectorate.

Power was concentrated in the hands of the governor-general, who carried out all the military and civil administration.

The new government focused on the agricultural sector of Uzbekistan economy: it resulted in the cotton growth for the needs of Russian industry. Gin houses and cottonseed oil mills were built, mining operations began, the Trans-Caspian railway was built, which connected Central Asia with European part of Russia.

Soviet Uzbekistan

In the autumn of 1917 the Soviet power was proclaimed. Turkestan was granted the status of the Soviet Republic within the RSFSR. Nationalists, disagreed with this decision, went to the mountains, from where started a fierce guerrilla war for the sovereignty of their native land. From 1917 to 1921 in Central Asia there was a struggle between guerillas and troops of the Red Army, which ended with the victory of the Soviet Union. In 1924 five new republics within the USSR were established, including the Uzbek SSR, whish existed until 1991.

In the first years of the Soviet power in Uzbekistan many measures were directed to the liquidation of illiteracy and construction of schools. At the same time the traditional life style and culture were destroyed. In the 30-ies of the 20th century an active industrialization of Uzbekistan took place: large plants and fabrics of light and heavy industry were constructed, new cities were built near these plants, and old cities were reconstructed. During that period Uzbekistan suffered from Stalin&rsquos political repressions: among the victims there were leading politicians and cultural figures of Uzbekistan.

During the World War II of 1941-1945 the male population of the republics of the Soviet Union were taken to the front and the most important enterprises and people were evacuated to the republics of Central Asia, including Uzbekistan. During this period, Tashkent became a kind of evacuation center, which gave a shelter to refugees from the whole Soviet Union, and was called the City of Bread and the City of Friendship of Nations.

In 1966 a heavy earthquake in Tashkent destroyed the major part of the old city. In this connection the city was rebuilt in the Soviet style by the architects, coming from all over the USSR. In 1977 the Tashkent metro was put into operation. It was the first metro in Central Asia.

Independent Uzbekistan

In connection with the collapse of the USSR, the political independence of Uzbekistan was proclaimed at the extraordinary VI session of the Supreme Council on august 31, 1991.

The 1st of September was announced the Independence Day. The Republic of Uzbekistan was officially recognized as an independent state by 160 countries around the world . On March 2, 1992 Uzbekistan became a member of the UN. On December 8, 1992 a new Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan was adopted. The core of the new political system in Uzbekistan became a presidential form of government, in which the power of the President, as head of the state, and executive power were concentrated.

Since gaining the independence, Uzbekistan took a course to build the democratic state with market economy. The republic obtained the opportunity to independently conduct the foreign economic activity. Today, Uzbekistan is a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Monetary Fund, the International Labour Organization, Shanghai Cooperation Organization and other reputable organizations.


Uzbekistan is one the Central Asian republics of the former Soviet Union. At the end of 1991, the collapse of the Soviet Union transformed all republics of that union into independent states. Located in the heart of Central Asia, Uzbekistan has a long and dramatic history. It first flourished economically because of the famous "Silk Road" going through the cities of Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, and Tashkent, the oasis towns over which caravans brought the products of Europe to exchange for those of Asia. Many famous conquerors passed through the land including Alexander the Great who stopped near Samarkand on his way to India in 327 B.C. In the eighth century A.D., the territory was conquered by Muslim Arabs and, in the ninth century, the indigenous Samanid dynasty established an empire there. Uzbekistan was overrun by Genghis Khan in 1220. In the 1300s Timur built an empire with its capital at Samarkand. Uzbekistan's heritage goes back about 2,500 years. In addition to its economic importance, this territory flourished as the medieval intellectual center of the Muslim world.

Russian trade with this region grew during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and, in 1865, Russian troops occupied Tashkent. By the end of the nineteenth century, Russia had conquered all of Central Asia, placed it under colonial administration, and invested in the development of Central Asia's infrastructure, promoting cotton growing and encouraging settlement by Russian colonists.

In 1924, following the establishment of Soviet power, the territories of the Khanates of Bukhara and Khiva and portions of the Fergana Valley that had constituted the Khanate of Kokand were united into the Soviet Socialist Republic of Uzbekistan. The Soviet era brought literacy and technical development to Uzbekistan. The Republic was valued for its cotton growing and natural resources. However, together with positive developments, there was communist domination which brought with it the suppression of local cultural and religious tendencies. Uzbekistan declared independence on September 1, 1991.

Geographically, Uzbekistan is located in the middle of Central Asia with flat, sandy terrain and broad, intensely irrigated valleys along the rivers Amu Darya and Syr Darya. Uzbekistan borders with Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Tadjikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Uzbekistan territory is 447,400 square kilometers (117,868 square miles) or slightly larger than California. The climate is characterized by long, hot summers and mild winters. Uzbekistan is subdivided into 12 regions, plus the autonomous region of Karakalpakstan. Tashkent has a population of two million and is the capital of Uzbekistan.

Politically, the country is a republic with the Constitution adopted 8 December 1992. People elect the President in direct election. Islam Karimov is the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan for the third consecutive time. The Uzbekistan government has three branches: Executive, Legislative, and Supreme Court.

Economically, Uzbekistan was one of the poorest republics of the Soviet Union. The population is heavily rural and dependent on farming for its livelihood. The work force is comprised of the following: agriculture and forestry, 44 percent industry and construction, 20 percent and other, 36 percent. In 1997 Uzbekistan GDP was $21.3 billion, and per capita GDP was $895. It is the world's fourth largest producer of cotton. It also produces significant amounts of silk, fruits, vegetables, and other crops. As the world's seventh largest producer of gold, about eighty tons per year, it also has the fourth largest gold reserves. There are sufficient amounts of oil and an abundance of natural gas used for both domestic consumption and export and exportable reserves of copper, lead, zinc, tungsten, and uranium. There is trade with Russia, the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Turkey, and the neighboring countries, former Soviet republics, now called the newly independent states (NIS).

History of Uzbekistan

In the first millennium BC, Iranian nomads established irrigation systems along the rivers of Central Asia and built towns at Bukhara and Samarqand. These places became extremely wealthy points of transit on what became known as the Silk Road between China and Europe. In the seventh century AD, the Soghdian Iranians, who profited most visibly from this trade, saw their province of Transoxiana (Mawarannahr) overwhelmed by Arabs, who spread Islam throughout the region. Under the Arab Abbasid Caliphate and (starting from the mid-9th century), the Persian Samanid Empire, the eighth to tenth centuries were a golden age of learning and culture in Transoxiana.

The first people known to have occupied Central Asia were Iranian nomads who arrived from the northern grasslands of what is now Kazakhstan sometime in the first millennium BC. These nomads, who spoke Iranian dialects, settled in Central Asia and began to build an extensive irrigation system along the rivers of the region. At this time, cities such as Bukhara (Bukhara) and Samarqand (Samarkand) began to appear as centers of government and culture. By the fifth century BC, the Bactrian, Soghdian, and Tokharian states dominated the region. As China began to develop its silk trade with the West, Iranian cities took advantage of this commerce by becoming centers of trade. Using an extensive network of cities and settlements in the province of Transoxiana (Mawarannahr was a name given the region after the Arab conquest) in Uzbekistan and farther east in what is today China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, the Soghdian intermediaries became the wealthiest of these Iranian merchants. Because of this trade on what became known as the Silk Route, Bukhara and Samarqand eventually became extremely wealthy cities, and at times Transoxiana was one of the most influential and powerful Persian provinces of antiquity. [2] [ full citation needed ]

Alexander the Great conquered the region in 328 BC, bringing it briefly under the control of his Macedonian Empire. [2]

The wealth of Transoxiana was a constant magnet for invasions from the northern steppes and from China. Numerous intraregional wars were fought between Soghdian states and the other states in Transoxiana, and the Persians and the Chinese were in perpetual conflict over the region. The Chinese in particular sought the Heavenly Horses from the region, going so far as to wage a siege war against Dayuan, an urbanized civilization in the Fergana Valley in 104 BC to obtain the horses.

In the same centuries, however, the region also was an important center of intellectual life and religion. Until the first centuries after Christ, the dominant religion in the region was Zoroastrianism, but Buddhism, Manichaeism, and Christianity also attracted large numbers of followers. [2]

In 563-567, the territory of modern Uzbekistan became part of the Turkic Khaganate (552-745). [3]

During the era of the Western Turkic Khaganate (603-658), the political influence of the Turks in Sogd increased. The process of settling the Turks in the oases of Central Asia led to the development of the ancient Turkic writing and monetary relations. Some Turkic rulers of Bukhara, Chach and Fergana issued their own coins. [4] [5] Part of the Bukhara Turks adopted Christianity. The Turks from other regions adopted Buddhism and Zoroastrianism. The first steps for the official introduction of Buddhism into the religious practice of the Turks were made by Mukhan Kagan (553-572). However, only Taspar Kagan (572-580) gave the Buddhist mission a scope that could provide the followers of this religion with cultural and political priority in the Kagan headquarters. [6] Most of the Turkic population retained their religion. The sources mention the following Turkic deities: Tangri (Sky), Umay (Mother Goddess), Yer-sub (Earth-Water) and Erklig (Lord of Hell), among which Tengri, the ruler of the Upper World, held a dominant position. [7]

The conquest of Central Asia by Muslim Arabs, which was completed in the eighth century AD, brought to the region a new religion that continues to be dominant. The Arabs first invaded Transoxiana in the middle of the seventh century through sporadic raids during their conquest of Persia. Available sources on the Arab conquest suggest that the Soghdians and other Iranian peoples of Central Asia were unable to defend their land against the Arabs because of internal divisions and the lack of strong indigenous leadership. The Arabs, on the other hand, were led by a brilliant general, Qutaybah ibn Muslim, and were also highly motivated by the desire to spread their new faith (the official beginning of which was in AD 622). Because of these factors, the population of Transoxiana was easily subdued. The new religion brought by the Arabs spread gradually into the region. The native religious identities, which in some respects were already being displaced by Persian influences before the Arabs arrived, were further displaced in the ensuing centuries. Nevertheless, the destiny of Central Asia as an Islamic region was firmly established by the Arab victory over the Chinese armies in 750 in a battle at the Talas River. [8] [ full citation needed ]

Despite brief Arab rule, Central Asia successfully retained much of its Iranian characteristic, remaining an important center of culture and trade for centuries after the adoption of the new religion. Transoxiana continued to be an important political player in regional affairs, as it had been under various Persian dynasties. In fact, the Abbasid Caliphate, which ruled the Arab world for five centuries beginning in 750, was established thanks in great part to assistance from Central Asian supporters in their struggle against the then-ruling Umayyad Caliphate. [8]

During the height of the Abbasid Caliphate in the eighth and the ninth centuries, Central Asia and Transoxiana experienced a truly golden age. Bukhara became one of the leading centers of learning, culture, and art in the Muslim world, its magnificence rivaling contemporaneous cultural centers such as Baghdad, Cairo, and Cordoba. Some of the greatest historians, scientists, and geographers in the history of Islamic culture were natives of the region. [8]

As the Abbasid Caliphate began to weaken and local Islamic Iranian states emerged as the rulers of Iran and Central Asia, the Persian language continued its preeminent role in the region as the language of literature and government. The rulers of the eastern section of Iran and of Transoxiana were Persians. Under the Samanids and the Buyids, the rich Perso-Islamic culture of Transoxiana continued to flourish. [8]

In the sixth century, the continued influx of Turkic nomads from the northern steppes brought a new group of people into Central Asia. [9] These people were the Turks who lived in the great grasslands stretching from Mongolia to the Caspian Sea.

Later, introduced mainly as slave soldiers to the Samanid Dynasty, these Turks served in the armies of all the states of the region, including the Abbasid army. In the late tenth century, as the Samanids began to lose control of Transoxiana (Mawarannahr) and northeastern Iran, some of these soldiers came to positions of power in the government of the region, and eventually established their own states, albeit highly Persianized. With the emergence of a Turkic ruling group in the region, other Turkic tribes began to migrate to Transoxiana. [10] [ full citation needed ]

The first of the Turkic states in the region was the Persianate Ghaznavid Empire, established in the last years of the tenth century. The Ghaznavid state, which captured the Samanid domains south of the Amu Darya, was able to conquer large areas of eastern Iran, Central Asia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan during the reign of Sultan Mahmud. The Ghaznavids were closely followed by the Turkic Qarakhanids, who took the Samanid capital Bukhara in 999 AD, and ruled Transoxiana for the next two centuries. Samarkand was made the capital of the Western Qarakhanid state. [11]

The dominance of Ghazna was curtailed, however, when the Seljuks led themselves into the western part of the region, conquering the Ghaznavid territory of Khorazm (also spelled Khorezm and Khwarazm). [10] The Seljuks also defeated the Karakhanids, but did not annex their territories outright. Instead they made the Karakhanids a vassal state. [12] The Seljuks dominated a wide area from Asia Minor, Iran, Iraq, and parts of the Caucasus, to the western sections of Transoxiana, in Afghanistan, in the eleventh century. The Seljuk Empire then split into states ruled by various local Turkic and Iranian rulers. The culture and intellectual life of the region continued unaffected by such political changes, however. Turkic tribes from the north continued to migrate into the region during this period. [10] The power of the Seljuks however became diminished when the Seljuk Sultan Ahmed Sanjar was defeated by the Kara-Khitans at the Battle of Qatwan in 1141.

In the late twelfth century, a Turkic leader of Khorazm, which is the region south of the Aral Sea, united Khorazm, Transoxiana, and Iran under his rule. Under the rule of the Khorazm shah Kutbeddin Muhammad and his son, Muhammad II, Transoxiana continued to be prosperous and rich while maintaining the region's Perso-Islamic identity. However, a new incursion of nomads from the north soon changed this situation. This time the invader was Genghis Khan with his Mongol armies. [10]

As Turks began entering the region from the north, they established new states starting from the 11th century and began to change the demographics of the region. After a succession of states dominated the region, in the twelfth century, Transoxiana was united in a single state with Iran and the region of Khwarezm, south of the Aral Sea. In the early thirteenth century, that state was invaded by Mongols, led by Genghis Khan. Under his successors, Iranian-speaking communities were displaced from some parts of Central Asia. Under Timur (Tamerlane), Transoxiana began its last cultural flowering, centered in Samarqand through the Timurid Renaissance. After Timur the state began to split, and by 1510 Uzbek tribes had conquered all of Central Asia. [13]

The Mongol invasion of Central Asia is one of the turning points in the history of the region. The Mongols had such a lasting effect because they established the tradition that the legitimate ruler of any Central Asian state could only be a blood descendant of Genghis Khan. [14] [ full citation needed ]

The Mongol conquest of Central Asia, which took place from 1219 to 1225, led to a wholesale change in the population of Mawarannahr. The conquest quickened the process of Turkification in some parts of the region because, although the armies of Genghis Khan were led by Mongols, they were made up mostly of Turkic tribes that had been incorporated into the Mongol armies as the tribes were encountered in the Mongols' southward sweep. As these armies settled in Mawarannahr, they intermixed with the local populations which did not flee. Another effect of the Mongol conquest was the large-scale damage the soldiers inflicted on cities such as Bukhara and on regions such as Khorazm. As the leading province of a wealthy state, Khorazm was treated especially severely. The irrigation networks in the region suffered extensive damage that was not repaired for several generations. [14] Many Iranian-speaking populations were forced to flee southwards in order to avoid persecution.

Following the death of Genghis Khan in 1227, his empire was divided among his four sons and his family members. Despite the potential for serious fragmentation, Mongol law of the Mongol Empire maintained orderly succession for several more generations, and control of most of Mawarannahr stayed in the hands of direct descendants of Chaghatai, the second son of Genghis. Orderly succession, prosperity, and internal peace prevailed in the Chaghatai lands, and the Mongol Empire as a whole remained strong and united. [15] [ full citation needed ] But, Khwarezm was part of Golden Horde.

In the early fourteenth century, however, as the empire began to break up into its constituent parts, the Chaghatai territory also was disrupted as the princes of various tribal groups competed for influence. One tribal chieftain, Timur (Tamerlane), emerged from these struggles in the 1380s as the dominant force in Mawarannahr. Although he was not a descendant of Genghis, Timur became the de facto ruler of Mawarannahr and proceeded to conquer all of western Central Asia, Iran, Asia Minor, and the southern steppe region north of the Aral Sea. He also invaded Russia before dying during an invasion of China in 1405. [15]

Timur initiated the last flowering of Mawarannahr by gathering in his capital, Samarqand, numerous artisans and scholars from the lands he had conquered. By supporting such people, Timur imbued his empire with a very rich Perso-Islamic culture. During Timur's reign and the reigns of his immediate descendants, a wide range of religious and palatial construction projects were undertaken in Samarqand and other population centers. Timur also patronized scientists and artists his grandson Ulugh Beg was one of the world's first great astronomers. It was during the Timurid dynasty that Turkic, in the form of the Chaghatai dialect, became a literary language in its own right in Mawarannahr, although the Timurids were Persianate in nature. The greatest Chaghataid writer, Ali Shir Nava'i, was active in the city of Herat, now in northwestern Afghanistan, in the second half of the fifteenth century. [15]

The Timurid state quickly broke into two halves after the death of Timur. The chronic internal fighting of the Timurids attracted the attention of the Uzbek nomadic tribes living to the north of the Aral Sea. In 1501 the Uzbeks began a wholesale invasion of Mawarannahr. [15]

By 1510 the Uzbeks had completed their conquest of Central Asia, including the territory of the present-day Uzbekistan. Of the states they established, the most powerful, the Khanate of Bukhara, centered on the city of Bukhara. The khanate controlled Mawarannahr, especially the region of Tashkent, the Fergana Valley in the east, and northern Afghanistan. A second Uzbek state, the Khanate of Khiva was established in the oasis of Khorazm at the mouth of the Amu Darya in 1512. The Khanate of Bukhara was initially led by the energetic Shaybanid Dynasty. The Shaybanids competed against Iran, which was led by the Safavid Dynasty, for the rich far-eastern territory of present-day Iran. The struggle with Iran also had a religious aspect because the Uzbeks were Sunni Muslims, and Iran was Shia. [16] [ full citation needed ]

Near the end of the sixteenth century, the Uzbek states of Bukhara and Khorazm began to weaken because of their endless wars against each other and the Persians and because of strong competition for the throne among the khans in power and their heirs. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, the Shaybanid Dynasty was replaced by the Janid Dynasty. [16]

Another factor contributing to the weakness of the Uzbek khanates in this period was the general decline of trade moving through the region. This change had begun in the previous century when ocean trade routes were established from Europe to India and China, circumventing the Silk Route. As European-dominated ocean transport expanded and some trading centers were destroyed, cities such as Bukhara, Merv, and Samarqand in the Khanate of Bukhara and Khiva and Urganch (Urgench) in Khorazm began to steadily decline. [16]

The Uzbeks' struggle with Iran also led to the cultural isolation of Central Asia from the rest of the Islamic world. In addition to these problems, the struggle with the nomads from the northern steppe continued. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Kazakh nomads and Mongols continually raided the Uzbek khanates, causing widespread damage and disruption. In the beginning of the eighteenth century, the Khanate of Bukhara lost the fertile Fergana region, and a new Uzbek khanate was formed in Quqon. [16]

In the sixteenth century, the Uzbeks established two strong rival khanates, Bukhara and Khorazm. In this period, the Silk Road cities began to decline as ocean trade flourished. The khanates were isolated by wars with Iran and weakened by attacks from northern nomads. Between 1729 and 1741 all the Khanates were made into vassals by Nader Shah of Persia. In the early nineteenth century, three Uzbek khanates—Bukhara, Khiva, and Quqon (Kokand)—had a brief period of recovery. However, in the mid-nineteenth century Russia, attracted to the region's commercial potential and especially to its cotton, began the full military conquest of Central Asia. By 1876 Russia had incorporated all three khanates (hence all of present-day Uzbekistan) into its empire, granting the khanates limited autonomy. In the second half of the nineteenth century, the Russian population of Uzbekistan grew and some industrialization occurred. [13]

The following period was one of weakness and disruption, with continuous invasions from Iran and from the north. In this period, a new group, the Russians, began to appear on the Central Asian scene. As Russian merchants began to expand into the grasslands of present-day Kazakhstan, they built strong trade relations with their counterparts in Tashkent and, to some extent, in Khiva. For the Russians, this trade was not rich enough to replace the former transcontinental trade, but it made the Russians aware of the potential of Central Asia. Russian attention also was drawn by the sale of increasingly large numbers of Russian slaves to the Central Asians by Kazakh and Turkmen tribes. Russians kidnapped by nomads in the border regions and Russian sailors shipwrecked on the shores of the Caspian Sea usually ended up in the slave markets of Bukhara or Khiva. Beginning in the eighteenth century, this situation evoked increasing Russian hostility toward the Central Asian khanates. [17] [ full citation needed ]

Meanwhile, in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries new dynasties led the khanates to a period of recovery. Those dynasties were the Qongrats in Khiva, the Manghits in Bukhara, and the Mins in Quqon. These new dynasties established centralized states with standing armies and new irrigation works. However, their rise coincided with the ascendance of Russian influence in the Kazahk steppes and the establishment of British rule in India. By the early nineteenth century, the region was the scene of the "Great Game", a series of political maneuverers between the two powers to prevent the other from gaining power in Central Asia. The Central Asian powers took little notice of this political bickering between the European powers, continuing to wage wars of conquest amongst themselves. [17]

In the nineteenth century, Russian interest in the area increased greatly, sparked by nominal concern over increasing British influence in Central Asia by anger over the situation of Russian citizens held as slaves and by the desire to control the trade in the region and to establish a secure source of cotton for Russia. When the United States Civil War prevented cotton delivery from Russia's primary supplier, the southern United States, Central Asian cotton assumed much greater importance for Russia. [18] [ full citation needed ]

As soon as the Russian conquest of the Caucasus was completed in the late 1850s, the Russian Ministry of War began to send military forces against the Central Asian khanates. Three major population centers of the khanates—Tashkent, Bukhara, and Samarqand—were captured in 1865, 1867, and 1868, respectively. In 1868 the Khanate of Bukhara signed a treaty with Russia making Bukhara a Russian protectorate. In 1868 the Khanate of Kokand was confined to the Ferghana Valley and in 1876 it was annexed. The Khanate of Khiva became a Russian protectorate in 1873. Thus by 1876 the entire territory comprising present-day Uzbekistan either had fallen under direct Russian rule or had become a protectorate of Russia. The treaties establishing the protectorates over Bukhara and Khiva gave Russia control of the foreign relations of these states and gave Russian merchants important concessions in foreign trade the khanates retained control of their own internal affairs. Tashkent and Quqon fell directly under a Russian governor general. [18]

During the first few decades of Russian rule, the daily life of the Central Asians did not change greatly. The Russians substantially increased cotton production, but otherwise they interfered little with the indigenous people. Some Russian settlements were built next to the established cities of Tashkent and Samarqand, but the Russians did not mix with the indigenous populations. The era of Russian rule did produce important social and economic changes for some Uzbeks as a new middle class developed and some peasants were affected by the increased emphasis on cotton cultivation. [18]

In the last decade of the nineteenth century, conditions began to change as new Russian railroads brought greater numbers of Russians into the area. In the 1890s, several revolts, which were put down easily, led to increased Russian vigilance in the region. The Russians increasingly intruded in the internal affairs of the khanates. The only avenue for Uzbek resistance to Russian rule became the Pan-Turkish movement, also known as Jadidism, which had arisen in the 1860s among intellectuals who sought to preserve indigenous Islamic Central Asian culture from Russian encroachment. By 1900 Jadidism had developed into the region's first major movement of political resistance. Until the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, the modern, secular ideas of Jadidism faced resistance from both the Russians and the Uzbek khans, who had differing reasons to fear the movement. [18]

Prior to the events of 1917, Russian rule had brought some industrial development in sectors directly connected with cotton. Although railroads and cotton-ginning machinery advanced, the Central Asian textile industry was slow to develop because the cotton crop was shipped to Russia for processing. As the tsarist government expanded the cultivation of cotton dramatically, it changed the balance between cotton and food production, creating some problems in food supply—although in the prerevolutionary period Central Asia remained largely self-sufficient in food. This situation was to change during the Soviet period when the Moscow government began a ruthless drive for national self-sufficiency in cotton. This policy converted almost the entire agricultural economy of Uzbekistan to cotton production, bringing a series of consequences whose harm still is felt today in Uzbekistan and other republics. [18]

By the turn of the twentieth century, the Russian Empire was in complete control of Central Asia. The territory of Uzbekistan was divided into three political groupings: the khanates of Bukhara and Khiva and the Guberniya (Governorate General) of Turkestan, the last of which was under direct control of the Ministry of War of Russia. The final decade of the nineteenth century finds the three regions united under the independent and sovereign Republic of Uzbekistan. The intervening decades were a period of revolution, oppression, massive disruptions, and colonial rule. [19] [ full citation needed ]

After 1900 the khanates continued to enjoy a certain degree of autonomy in their internal affairs. However, they ultimately were subservient to the Russian governor general in Tashkent, who ruled the region in the name of Tsar Nicholas II. The Russian Empire exercised direct control over large tracts of territory in Central Asia, allowing the khanates to rule a large portion of their ancient lands for themselves. In this period, large numbers of Russians, attracted by the climate and the available land, immigrated into Central Asia. After 1900, increased contact with Russian civilization began to affect the lives of Central Asians in the larger population centers where the Russians settled. [19]

Russian influence was especially strong among certain young intellectuals who were the sons of the rich merchant classes. Educated in the local Muslim schools, in Russian universities, or in Istanbul, these men, who came to be known as the Jadidists, tried to learn from Russia and from modernizing movements in Istanbul and among the Tatars, and to use this knowledge to regain their country's independence. The Jadidists believed that their society, and even their religion, must be reformed and modernized for this goal to be achieved. In 1905 the unexpected victory of a new Asiatic power in the Russo-Japanese War and the eruption of revolution in Russia raised the hopes of reform factions that Russian rule could be overturned, and a modernization program initiated, in Central Asia. The democratic reforms that Russia promised in the wake of the revolution gradually faded, however, as the tsarist government restored authoritarian rule in the decade that followed 1905. Renewed tsarist repression and the reactionary politics of the rulers of Bukhara and Khiva forced the reformers underground or into exile. Nevertheless, some of the future leaders of Soviet Uzbekistan, including Abdur Rauf Fitrat and others, gained valuable revolutionary experience and were able to expand their ideological influence in this period. [20] [ full citation needed ]

In the summer of 1916, a number of settlements in eastern Uzbekistan were the sites of violent demonstrations against a new Russian decree canceling the Central Asians' immunity to conscription for duty in World War I. Reprisals of increasing violence ensued, and the struggle spread from Uzbekistan into Kyrgyz and Kazak territory. There, Russian confiscation of grazing land already had created animosity not present in the Uzbek population, which was concerned mainly with preserving its rights. [20]

The next opportunity for the Jadidists presented itself in 1917 with the outbreak of the February and October revolutions in Russia. In February the revolutionary events in Russia's capital, Petrograd (St. Petersburg), were quickly repeated in Tashkent, where the tsarist administration of the governor general was overthrown. In its place, a dual system was established, combining a provisional government with direct Soviet power and completely excluding the native Muslim population from power. Indigenous leaders, including some of the Jadidists, attempted to set up an autonomous government in the city of Quqon in the Fergana Valley, but this attempt was quickly crushed. Following the suppression of autonomy in Quqon, Jadidists and other loosely connected factions began what was called the Basmachi revolt against Soviet rule, which by 1922 had survived the civil war and was asserting greater power over most of Central Asia. For more than a decade, Basmachi guerrilla fighters (that name was a derogatory Slavic term that the fighters did not apply to themselves) fiercely resisted the establishment of Soviet rule in parts of Central Asia. [20]

However, the majority of Jadidists, including leaders such as Abdurrauf Fitrat and Fayzulla Khodzhayev, cast their lot with the communists. In 1920 Khojayev, who became first secretary of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan, assisted communist forces in the capture of Bukhara and Khiva. After the Amir of Bukhara had joined the Basmachi movement, Khojayev became president of the newly established Bukharan People's Soviet Republic. A People's Republic of Khorezm also was set up in what had been Khiva. [20]

The Basmachi revolt eventually was crushed as the civil war in Russia ended and the communists drew away large portions of the Central Asian population with promises of local political autonomy and the potential economic autonomy of Soviet leader Lenin's New Economic Policy. Under these circumstances, large numbers of Central Asians joined the communist party, many gaining high positions in the government of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic (Uzbek SSR), the administrative unit established in 1924 to include present-day Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The indigenous leaders cooperated closely with the communist government in enforcing policies designed to alter the traditional society of the region: the emancipation of women, the redistribution of land, and mass literacy campaigns. [20]

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the Jadidist movement of educated Central Asians, centered in present-day Uzbekistan, began to advocate overthrowing Russian rule. In 1916 violent opposition broke out in Uzbekistan and elsewhere, in response to the conscription of Central Asians into the Russian army fighting World War I. When the tsar was overthrown in 1917, Jadidists established a short-lived autonomous state at Quqon. After the Bolshevik Party gained power in Moscow, the Jadidists split between supporters of Russian communism and supporters of a widespread uprising that became known as the Basmachi Rebellion. As that revolt was being crushed in the early 1920s, local communist leaders such as Faizulla Khojayev gained power in Uzbekistan. In 1924 the Soviet Union established the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic, which included present-day Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Tajikistan became the separate Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic in 1929. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, large-scale agricultural collectivization resulted in widespread famine in Central Asia. In the late 1930s, Khojayev and the entire leadership of the Uzbek Republic were purged and executed by Soviet leader Joseph V. Stalin (in power 1927–53) and replaced by Russian officials. The Russification of political and economic life in Uzbekistan that began in the 1930s continued through the 1970s. During World War II, Stalin exiled entire national groups from the Caucasus and the Crimea to Uzbekistan to prevent "subversive" activity against the war effort. [13]

In 1929 the Tajik and Uzbek Soviet socialist republics were separated. As Uzbek communist party chief, Khojayev enforced the policies of the Soviet government during the collectivization of agriculture in the late 1920s and early 1930s and, at the same time, tried to increase the participation of Uzbeks in the government and the party. Soviet leader Joseph V. Stalin suspected the motives of all reformist national leaders in the non-Russian republics of the Soviet Union. By the late 1930s, Khojayev and the entire group that came into high positions in the Uzbek Republic had been arrested and executed during the Stalinist purges. [21] [ full citation needed ]

Following the purge of the nationalists, the government and party ranks in Uzbekistan were filled with people loyal to the Moscow government. Economic policy emphasized the supply of cotton to the rest of the Soviet Union, to the exclusion of diversified agriculture. During World War II, many industrial plants from European Russia were evacuated to Uzbekistan and other parts of Central Asia. With the factories came a new wave of Russian and other European workers. Because native Uzbeks were mostly occupied in the country's agricultural regions, the urban concentration of immigrants increasingly Russified Tashkent and other large cities. During the war years, in addition to the Russians who moved to Uzbekistan, other nationalities such as Crimean Tatars, Chechens, and Koreans were exiled to the republic because Moscow saw them as subversive elements in European Russia. [21]

Following the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953, the relative relaxation of totalitarian control initiated by First Secretary Nikita Khrushchev (in office 1953–64) brought the rehabilitation of some of the Uzbek nationalists who had been purged. More Uzbeks began to join the Communist Party of Uzbekistan and to assume positions in the government. However, those Uzbeks who participated in the regime did so on Russian terms. [22] [ unreliable source? ] Russian was the language of state, and Russification was the prerequisite for obtaining a position in the government or the party. Those who did not or could not abandon their Uzbek lifestyles and identities were excluded from leading roles in official Uzbek society. [ citation needed ] Because of these conditions, Uzbekistan gained a reputation as one of the most politically conservative republics in the Soviet Union. [22]

As Uzbeks were beginning to gain leading positions in society, they also were establishing or reviving unofficial networks based on regional and clan loyalties. These networks provided their members support and often profitable connections between them and the state and the party. An extreme example of this phenomenon occurred under the leadership of Sharaf Rashidov, who was first secretary of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan from 1959 to 1982. During his tenure, Rashidov brought numerous relatives and associates from his native region into government and party leadership positions. The individuals who thus became "connected" treated their positions as personal fiefdoms to enrich themselves. [22]

In this way, Rashidov was able to initiate efforts to make Uzbekistan less subservient to Moscow. As became apparent after his death, Rashidov's strategy had been to remain a loyal ally of Leonid Brezhnev, leader of the Soviet Union from 1964 to 1982, by bribing high officials of the central government. With this advantage, the Uzbek government was allowed to merely feign compliance with Moscow's demands for increasingly higher cotton quotas. [22]

Moscow's control over Uzbekistan weakened in the 1970s as Uzbek party leader Sharaf Rashidov brought many cronies and relatives into positions of power. In the mid-1980s, Moscow attempted to regain control by again purging the entire Uzbek party leadership. However, this move increased Uzbek nationalism, which had long resented Soviet policies such as the imposition of cotton monoculture and the suppression of Islamic traditions. In the late 1980s, the liberalized atmosphere of the Soviet Union under Mikhail Gorbachev (in power 1985–91) fostered political opposition groups and open (albeit limited) opposition to Soviet policy in Uzbekistan. In 1989 a series of violent ethnic clashes involving Uzbeks brought the appointment of ethnic Uzbek outsider Islam Karimov as Communist Party chief. When the Supreme Soviet of Uzbekistan reluctantly approved independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Karimov became president of the Republic of Uzbekistan. [13]

During the decade following the death of Rashidov, Moscow attempted to regain the central control over Uzbekistan that had weakened in the previous decade. In 1986 it was announced that almost the entire party and government leadership of the republic had conspired in falsifying cotton production figures. Eventually, Rashidov himself was also implicated (posthumously) together with Yuri Churbanov, Brezhnev's son-in-law. A massive purge of the Uzbek leadership was carried out, and corruption trials were conducted by prosecutors brought in from Moscow. In the Soviet Union, Uzbekistan became synonymous with corruption. The Uzbeks themselves felt that the central government had singled them out unfairly in the 1980s, this resentment led to a strengthening of Uzbek nationalism. Moscow's policies in Uzbekistan, such as the strong emphasis on cotton and attempts to uproot Islamic tradition, then came under increasing criticism in Tashkent. [23] [ full citation needed ]

In 1989 ethnic animosities came to a head in the Fergana Valley, where local Meskhetian Turks were assaulted by Uzbeks, and in the Kyrgyz city of Osh, where Uzbek and Kyrgyz youth clashed. Moscow's response to this violence was a reduction of the purges and the appointment of Islam Karimov as first secretary of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan. The appointment of Karimov, who was not a member of the local party elite, signified that Moscow wanted to lessen tensions by appointing an outsider who had not been involved in the purges. [23]

Resentment among Uzbeks continued to smolder, however, in the liberalized atmosphere of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's policies of perestroika and glasnost. With the emergence of new opportunities to express dissent, Uzbeks expressed their grievances over the cotton scandal, the purges, and other long-unspoken resentments. These included the environmental situation in the republic, recently exposed as a catastrophe as a result of the long emphasis on heavy industry and a relentless pursuit of cotton. Other grievances included discrimination and persecution experienced by Uzbek recruits in the Soviet army and the lack of investment in industrial development in the republic to provide jobs for the ever-increasing population. [23]

By the late 1980s, some dissenting intellectuals had formed political organizations to express their grievances. The most important of these, Birlik (Unity), initially advocated the diversification of agriculture, a program to salvage the desiccated Aral Sea, and the declaration of the Uzbek language as the state language of the republic. Those issues were chosen partly because they were real concerns and partly because they were a safe way of expressing broader disaffection with the Uzbek government. In their public debate with Birlik, the government and party never lost the upper hand. As became especially clear after the accession of Karimov as party chief, most Uzbeks, especially those outside the cities, still supported the communist party and the government. Birlik's intellectual leaders never were able to make their appeal to a broad segment of the population. [23]

The attempted coup against the Gorbachev government by disaffected hard-liners in Moscow, which occurred in August 1991, was a catalyst for independence movements throughout the Soviet Union. Despite Uzbekistan's initial hesitancy to oppose the coup, the Supreme Soviet of Uzbekistan declared the republic independent on August 31, 1991. In December 1991, an independence referendum was passed with 98.2 percent of the popular vote. The same month, a parliament was elected and Karimov was chosen the new nation's first president. [24]

Although Uzbekistan had not sought independence, when events brought them to that point, Karimov and his government moved quickly to adapt themselves to the new realities. They realized that under the Commonwealth of Independent States, the loose federation proposed to replace the Soviet Union, no central government would provide the subsidies to which Uzbek governments had become accustomed for the previous 70 years. Old economic ties would have to be reexamined and new markets and economic mechanisms established. Although Uzbekistan as defined by the Soviets had never had independent foreign relations, diplomatic relations would have to be established with foreign countries quickly. Investment and foreign credits would have to be attracted, a formidable challenge in light of Western restrictions on financial aid to nations restricting expression of political dissent. For example, the suppression of internal dissent in 1992 and 1993 had an unexpectedly chilling effect on foreign investment. Uzbekistan's image in the West alternated in the ensuing years between an attractive, stable experimental zone for investment and a post-Soviet dictatorship whose human rights record made financial aid inadvisable. Such alternation exerted strong influence on the political and economic fortunes of the new republic in its first five years. [24]

In 1992 Uzbekistan adopted a new constitution, but the main opposition party, Birlik, was banned, and a pattern of media suppression began. In 1995 a national referendum extended Karimov's term of office from 1997 to 2000. A series of violent incidents in eastern Uzbekistan in 1998 and 1999 intensified government activity against Islamic extremist groups, other forms of opposition, and minorities. In 2000 Karimov was reelected overwhelmingly in an election whose procedures received international criticism. Later that year, Uzbekistan began laying mines along the Tajikistan border, creating a serious new regional issue and intensifying Uzbekistan's image as a regional hegemon. In the early 2000s, tensions also developed with neighboring states Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan. In the mid-2000s, a mutual defense treaty substantially enhanced relations between Russia and Uzbekistan. Tension with Kyrgyzstan increased in 2006 when Uzbekistan demanded extradition of hundreds of refugees who had fled from Andijon into Kyrgyzstan after the riots. A series of border incidents also inflamed tensions with neighboring Tajikistan. In 2006 Karimov continued arbitrary dismissals and shifts of subordinates in the government, including one deputy prime minister. [13]

The activities of missionaries from some Islamic countries, coupled with the absence of real opportunities to participate in public affairs, contributed to the popularization of a radical interpretation of Islam. In the February 1999 Tashkent bombings, car bombs hit Tashkent and President Karimov narrowly escaped an assassination attempt. The government blamed the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) for the attacks. Thousands of people suspected of complicity were arrested and imprisoned. In August 2000, militant groups tried to penetrate Uzbek territory from Kyrgyzstan acts of armed violence were noted in the southern part of the country as well.

In March 2004, another wave of attacks shook the country. These were reportedly committed by an international terrorist network. An explosion in the central part of Bukhara killed ten people in a house allegedly used by terrorists on March 28, 2004. Later that day, policemen were attacked at a factory, and early the following morning a police traffic check point was attacked. The violence escalated on March 29, when two women separately set off bombs near the main bazaar in Tashkent, killing two people and injuring around 20. These were the first suicide bombers in Uzbekistan. On the same day, three police officers were shot dead. In Bukhara, another explosion at a suspected terrorist bomb factory caused ten fatalities. The following day police raided an alleged militant hideout south of the capital city.

President Karimov claimed the attacks were probably the work of a banned radical group Hizb ut-Tahrir ("The Party of Liberation"), although the group denied responsibility. Other groups that might have been responsible include militant groups operating from camps in Tajikistan and Afghanistan and opposed to the government's support of the United States since September 11, 2001.

In 2004, British ambassador Craig Murray was removed from his post after speaking out against the regime's human rights abuses and British collusion therein. [25]

On July 30, 2004, terrorists bombed the embassies of Israel and the United States in Tashkent, killing three people and wounding several. The Jihad Group in Uzbekistan posted a claim of responsibility for those attacks on a website linked to Al-Qaeda. Terrorism experts say the reason for the attacks is Uzbekistan's support of the United States and its War on terror.

In May 2005, several hundred demonstrators were killed when Uzbek troops fired into a crowd protesting against the imprisonment of 23 local businessmen. (For further details, see 2005 Andijan Unrest.)

In July 2005, the Uzbek government gave the US 180 days' notice to leave the airbase it had leased in Uzbekistan. A Russian airbase and a German airbase remain.

In December 2007 Islam A. Karimov was reelected to power in a fraudulent election. Western election observers noted that the election failed to meet many OSCE benchmarks for democratic elections, the elections were held in a strictly controlled environment, and there had been no real opposition since all the candidates publicly endorsed the incumbent. Human rights activists reported various cases of multiple voting throughout the country as well as official pressure on voters at polling stations to cast ballots for Karimov. [26] The BBC reported that many people were afraid to vote for anyone other than the president. [27] According to the constitution Karimov was ineligible to stand as a candidate, having already served two consecutive presidential terms and thus his candidature was illegal. [28] [29]

The lead up to the elections was characterized by the secret police arresting dozens of opposition activists and putting them in jail including Yusuf Djumayaev, an opposition poet. Several news organizations, including The New York Times, the BBC and the Associated Press, were denied credentials to cover the election. [28] Around 300 dissidents were in jail in 2007, including Jamshid Karimov, the president's 41-year-old nephew. [29]

In 2016, Karimov died, still being a president and was replaced by Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who was Uzbekistan’s interim leader since the death of Islam Karimov. In December 2016, Shavkat Mirziyoyev won the presidential election with signs of fraud. [30]

Uzbekistan — History and Culture

Uzbekistan has been inhabited since ancient civilizations walked the Earth. It has come under the rule of empires such as the Macedonian, the Arab, the Persian, and the Mongol. Modern Uzbeks only came into the picture in the 1500s with the creation of modern day Uzbekistan, which came into being after the dissolution of the Soviet States in the late 1900s.


The territory that has come to be known as Uzbekistan has always been at the crossroads of the civilizations of Central Asia and the Middle East. The first inhabitants of Uzbekistan were said to be the Indo-Iranians, who came to the region in 1000 BC. These people d

eveloped irrigation of the rivers of the area and eventually, their settlements grew into the cities now known as some of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world: Bukhara, formerly known as Bukhoro, Samarkand, or Samarqand, and the capital of modern Uzbekistan, Tashkent, formerly known as Chash.

By the 5th century BC, these Uzbek cities, particularly Bukhara and Samarkand, were poised to assume their role in history as centers of trade and commerce, and naturally, crossroads of cultures. It was during this time when the civilizations of China and Europe began trading along a highway that came to be known as the Silk Road. Bukhara and Samarkand, the two major settlements of Transoxania province, became two of the wealthiest and most influential cities on this route through Central Asia. They have been declared UNESCO World Heritage sites for their long history, cultural legacy, and architectural heritage.

In 327 BC, the historic regions of Sogdiana and Bactria, both forming parts of modern Uzbekistan, came under the rule of the Macedonian king Alexander the Great. Uzbekistan hence became the northernmost reaches of the Macedonian Empire, which stretched from the Ionian Sea in the Mediterranean to the western portions of the Himalayas.

After Alexander the Great, it was the Persians that ruled these lands, specifically the Parthian and Sassanid empires. In the 8th century the Arabs came, bringing with them Islam―perhaps the most lasting of the legacies left by any of the cultures that passed through the region. Uzbekistan formed part of the Islamic Golden Age wherein Arab scholars made headway in the fields of astronomy, art, poetry, philosophy, and many other areas of study.

Changes came when the Mongolian ruler Genghis Khan conquered Central Asia. He and his Mongol-Turkic culture eventually supplanted that of the Indo-Iranians. By the 14th century, long after Genghis Khan had died, the region began breaking up into tribes and one tribal chief, Timur, otherwise known as Tamerlane, became the dominant power. He established his capital in Samarkand and under his rule, artists and scholars once again flourished. Nomadic tribes living north of the Aral Sea, the Uzbeks, came into the picture after the death of Timur in the 15th century. The Uzbeks established a powerful state in Bukhara that controlled Tashkent, northern Afghanistan, and the Fergana Valley. The Uzbeks eventually became the predominant ethnic group in modern Uzbekistan.

Modern Uzbekistan was only established in the 1900s, the better part of which Uzbekistan, along with other states in Central Asia, was under the firm hold of the Soviet Union. It was only in 1991 that Uzbekistan declared itself an independent and sovereign country, with September 1 now celebrated as Uzbekistan’s National Independence Day.


Having been at the crossroads of civilization, Uzbekistan has been home to many cultures. The majority group is the Uzbek, forming 71 percent of the population, followed by the Russians, the Tajiks, the Kazakhs, and other minority groups. The population of Uzbekistan is predominantly Muslim. However, during the Soviet era, religion was suppressed by the state, which sponsored anti-religious campaigns, closed down mosques, and deported devotees. The observance of Islam has gradually increased since the Soviets left.

Music is an important part of Uzbek culture. Shashmaqam, a form of classical music which originated in Bukhara is similar to classical Persian music, featuring six parts played in six modes, beginning at a low register and ascending gradually to a climax before coming back down again. Today, apart from special events, folk music lives on in religious and family events such as weddings.

There are a number of customs that travelers need to be aware of when in Uzbekistan. The traditional Uzbek bread called lipioshka should never be placed upside down or on the ground, even if wrapped in paper or plastic. Women should always wear modest clothes, never shorts, in public places. Displaying wealth such as jewelry is generally frowned upon.

Civil unrest

2004 March - At least 47 people killed in shootings and bombings. Authorities blame Islamic extremists.

2004 April - European Bank for Reconstruction and Development slashes aid because of Uzbekistan's poor record on economic reform and human rights.

2004 July - Suicide bombers target US and Israeli embassies in Tashkent, and third blast hits prosecutor-general's office.

2004 November - Restrictions on market traders spark civil disorder in eastern city of Kokand. Thousands take part in street protests.

2005 May - Troops open fire on anti-government protests in the eastern city of Andijan, killing hundreds of demonstrators. 2005 August - In reaction to US condemnation of Andijan killings, government orders US forces to lave Khanabad air base used for the anti-Taliban campaign in Afghanistan.

2005 November - Supreme Court convicts 15 men of having organised the Andijan unrest and jails them for 14-20 years in trial with little legal credibility.

Agreement signed on closer military cooperation with Russia, signalling move away from alliance with USA.

2006 March - Government critics Sanjar Umarov and Mukhtabar Tojibayeva jailed for eight years on trumped-up ecnomic charges after condemning Andijan killings.

History of Uzbekistan

In the II millennium BC. on the territory of Central Asia the Indo-Iranian tribes appeared, they came here from the south-west. Later these tribes settled on the territory of Khorezm (to the south of the Aral Sea and along the Amudarya river) and Sogd, or Sogdiana (in Zarafshan basin and its surroundings). In the 4th century BC. after the campaigns of Alexander of Macedon in the south of the present territory of Uzbekistan the Greek influence established. The intensive development of trade concerns approximately by the same time. One of the three main caravan routes of the Great Silk Road laid across Central Uzbekistan and the Fergana Valley.

The spreading of Islam. The Turks and the invasion of the Mongols. Since the end of the 7 th century the Arabs raided Sogdiana, and in the 8 th century the systematic conquest of Central Asia by the Arabs began. By the 10 th century the whole territory of Transoxiana (the regions between the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers) had become Islamic. The Persian dynasty of the Samanids established in Sogdiana, and the Amu Darya delta remained under the authority of Khorezm. In the 10 th century the Turkic tribes of Transoxiana joined and their rulers, who converted to Islam, formed the dynasty of the Karakhanids. At the end of the 10 th century Samanid state was conquered by the Karakhanids. In the late 12 th century Khorezm increased and subdued a large part of Central Asia. By that time, mainly the process of forming the Turkic Uzbek nationality was finished. At the beginning of the 13 th century the Mongol armies of Genghis Khan encroached on the territory of Central Asia. The cities were left by the residents, and the ruined people went back to the nomadic way of life.

The Timurids and the period of the Khanates. At the end of the 14th century the power over Central Asia passed into the hands of one of the Turkic leaders - Timur, known as "lame" (Timur -Leng, Tamerlane in the European pronunciation). His possessions with the capital in Samarkand stretched from China to the Middle East. Timur crushed the Mongol and Tatar Golden Horde, protected the Muslim religion and art during his governing many of the famous architectural ensembles in Central Asia were built. After Timur&rsquos death (1405) the dissensions for power among his heirs, the Timurids, began, accompanied by the popular tumults all this undermined the power of Transoxiana. After the death of Timur&rsquos grandson, Ulugbek &ndash the scientist and educator, the nomadic Turkic tribes, known as the Uzbeks, invaded from the vast northern steppes. These tribes were assimilated with the local settled population, having given its name to it. By 1510 their leader Sheibani Khan, conquered almost the whole country, driven out of the Timurids. In the 16th century two grate khanates were formed on this territory. The larger of these, with its capital in Bukhara controlled the central, southern and eastern parts of the territory of modern Uzbekistan. Another, Khiva Khanate with its capital in Khorezm, occupied the Amu Darya delta and adjoining areas. Later, in the 18th century, the third Khanate was formed, the political center of which was Kokand (the Fergana Valley). The period between the 16 th and 19 th centuries was marked by the decline, due to the internecine strife between the khanates, the raids of the nomads and cutting trade along the Great Silk Road.

Uzbekistan under the authority of Russia. In the 17-19 centuries the Russian gradually extended their influence in the steppe regions north and east of the Syr Darya, and in 1860 invaded Transoxiana. By the beginning of 1870s the Kokand Khanate was annexed to Russia and became a part of the Turkestan Governor-Generalship with its center in Tashkent. Bukhara and Khiva Khanates acknowledged the vassalage from Russia. At first, the Russian administration did not intervene in the cultural and religious life. However, the development of industry required changes in the economy of the region, the cultivation of cotton crops took the central place in agriculture to the detriment of other crops and cattle-breeding.
At the end of the 19 th century the group of Central Asian intellectuals - " the Jadids ", began looking for ways to overcome the economic and social backwardness of the Uzbek people. The growth of national consciousness of the population under the direction of the Jadids led to mass actions and rebellions. In response, the imperial government tightened the political control in the region and interfered in local customs and culture. During the First World War, the Russian army suffered heavy losses at the front, and in summer, 1916 the Russian government issued a decree on the mobilization of Muslims in the army to rear works. This edict caused a large-scale uprising in Central Asia. During the uprising and its suppression many thousands of people died. Tashkent, the residence of the colonial administration, was the center of the revolutionary events of 1917 in Turkestan. The provisional government, which replaced the autocracy in February 1917, showed no desire to allow the Muslims to participate in the political life of Turkestan. The Bolsheviks promised to put an end to the national oppression.
The Soviet period. In November 1917, the Muslim religious leaders gathered the Extraordinary Congress in Kokand, where they declared about the autonomy of the southern part of Central Asia. However, in February 1918 "Kokand Autonomy" was defeated by the superior forces of the Red Army, sent from Tashkent. The severe suppression of Kokand led to a reciprocal Basmachi movement who fought against the Bolsheviks in various regions of Central Asia. In April 1918 the governor-generalship of Turkestan was reformed into the Turkestan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (ASSR). With the help of the Red Army the previous government in Bukhara and Khiva was overthrown, and Bukhara and Khorezm Republics became parts of the Turkestan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. In October 1924, new "national" administrative units were introduced one of them was the Uzbek SSR. From 1924 to 1929 Tajikistan exercising the rights as the Autonomous Republic was the part of the UzSSR. Originally, the capital of Uzbekistan was Samarkand, but in 1930 the capital was moved to Tashkent.

The Adoption of the First Five-Year Plan in 1928 was the beginning of a broad assault on the traditional economic structure, and culture of Uzbekistan. Collectivization, which was preceded by land and water reforms, assumed a mass character in the late 1929 by the spring in 1932 three quarters of the land holdings in Uzbekistan were socialized and included in the collective farms. Uzbek writing was changed from Arabic into Slavic graphical base, it was followed by the campaign to overcome illiteracy. The formation of Uzbekistan was accompanied by the Republican organization of the Communist Party and governmental establishment. The first chairman of the Uzbek government (Council of People's Commissars) was Fayzulla Khodjaev, the former jadid from Bukhara. In 1924 V.I.Ivanov was appointed the first secretary of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan. However, in 1927 he was replaced by Akmal Ikramov. Khodjayev and Ikramov retained their positions until 1937. At the end of 1920s &ndash beginning of 1930s, the number of members of the Communist Party in the country increased rapidly, with a simultaneous increase of Uzbeks among party members. By 1934 64% members of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan were Uzbeks. However, the party ranks greatly thinned out as a result of Stalin's repressions. The victims of party purges became many members of Uzbek party and economic elites, especially those who, like Ikramov and Khodjaev, were once closely connected with the Jadids. Ikramov and Khodjayev were sentenced to death at the last show trial, which was held in Moscow and they were executed in March, 1938. The most significant figure in the postwar Uzbekistan became Sharaf Rashidov, who was holding a post as the first secretary of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan for 24 years (from 1959 to 1983).

With coming to the leadership of Islam Karimov, the formation of a new policy, focused on national interests of Uzbekistan, appeared. Karimov began to follow the more popular policy among the population in the sphere of religious, cultural and economic life, social welfare and protection of the interests of Uzbekistan.
In August, 31 at the VI extraordinary session of the Supreme Council the political independence was proclaimed. The country received the name - the Republic of Uzbekistan. The 1 st of September was declared Independence Day - national holiday.
In March 2, 1992 at the meeting of the UN General Assembly the Republic of Uzbekistan was admitted to UN.

Uzbekistan History, History of Uzbek people, History of Uzbekistan

A new type of human being - the Neanderthal man - appeared in Central Asia at the Palaeolithic Age (about 100 - 40 thousands years BC). At that period the human had settled down almost throughout the territory of contemporary Uzbekistan. The ancient Palaeolithic sites had been found in Surkhan-Darya region, in Kashkadarya, Fergana and Tashkent province. The burial of a Neanderthal boy had been discovered in the Teshiktash grotto - a striking illustration of presence of some religious beliefs at that time.

The Early Palaeolithic Age (40 - 12 thousands years BC) was a period of modern human being formation - the Cro-Magnon man. At that time the natural habitat of man extended, community flat sites appeared and the quantity and diversity of tools incereased. Stone had become a main material for manufacturing of tools. People started occasional making fire by means of friction.

Rock paintings found in Zarautsay (Surkhan-Darya province) were done in red mineral paint (ochre) and are attributed to the Mesolithic Age (13 - 5 thousands years BC).

By the Neolithic Age (5 - 2 thousand BC) the process of tribe formation had completed and as a result first human families appeared. Archaeological excavations at the site of Djanbaz Kala (Bukhara region) have revealed the remains of large oval-shape dwellings and brass articles of that time.

The Bronze Age has seen exuberant growth in agriculture production unseen before. This had become possible due to human&lsquos bringing of irrigation farming into use.

At the Iron Age the iron metallurgy had become widely spread on the territory of the Southern Uzbekistan and the development of irrigated farming continued. All these factors made for the settlements to become economically stronger.

At the middle of the First Millennium BC the process of class hierarchy formation sped up dramatically resulting in the advent of such ancient states as Khorezm, Sogdiana, Baktriana and Margiana. At the turn of our era first ever transcontinental caravan road (The Great Silk Road) was paved on from China to Mediterranean Sea.

From the middle of the 6th century BC Persian kings of Achaemenid dynasty have spread their rule over a number of states of Central Asia. Their dominance lasted till up to the second half of the 4th century BC when Alexander the Great had conquered the territory of modern Uzbekistan.

The demise of the Great Conqueror happened in 323 BC has resulted in numerous revolts as well as disputes among the Alexander&lsquos associates. And eventually on the bigger part of the territory of Central Asia the Seleucid Empire had formed than followed by the Greek-Baktrian Empire (Baktria) and the Parthia.

For the period from the end of the 1-st century BC up to the middle of the 4-th century AD Central Asia was a part of Kushan Empire This period is characterized by growth of numerous cities, strengthening of trade communications and development of crafts. The ruins of multiple monuments dated to that time still can be seen. At the archaeological site of Dalverzin-tepe monuments of Buddhists culture had been found to demonstrate a unique syncretic culture of Kushan-Baktrian times incorporating the elements of local ancient Baktrian as well as Hellenic, Saka-Scythian and Indian cultures.

The first written reference to the ancient state of Konguiy dates back to the Chinese chronicles of 2nd century BC. The main areas of this state were situated along the river of Sirdarya.

At the middle of the 5th century AC a mighty Kingdom of Hephtalites had established its rule over Central Asia. The new type cities such as Samarkand, Bukhara, Chach (Tashkent) and alike had started sprawling around the fortresses of local rulers.

The Hephtalite state had collapsed under the onslaught of Turkic tribes (nomads of Altai and Central Asia), which resulted in creation of the vast and amorphous Turkic Khanate. Ancient Turks introduced sophisticated system of taxation and succession of thrown. But interminable feudal strives eventually generated numerous invasions by foreign aggressors attracted with richness of Sogdiana, Bukhara and Khorezm.

In the 7th and especially at the beginning of the 8th centuries the Arabs armies commanded by Kuteiba Ibn Muslim had intruded to the territory of Central Asia. But only in 70 years after Arabs had managed to established their power on all of the territory of contemporary Uzbekistan (called by Arabs as "Mavarounnahr"). The Arabs drastically implanted Islam and eliminated all previous religious cults existed before (Zoroastrism, Manikheism, Buddhism and Nestorian Christianity). The process did not go smoothly causing a number of revolts against Arabs to break up. Most significant rebellion under the command of someone Mukanna had lasted in Sogd for more than 20 years (762-783 AD). Full dominance of Arabs in Mavarounnahr had only been established in the first half of the 9th century AD.

Local Persian dynasty of Samanids had established its independent of Baghdad sway at the end of the 9th c AD. Strong and efficient centralised political system combined with well-organised powerful mercenary army had led to the stabilization of social, economic and political life in the area. This 120-year period, known under the name of "Muslim Renaissance", is characterised by massive construction of new irrigation canals, water reservoirs, intensive ore mining, smelting and trading development. Trading ties with different countries all over the Muslim world considerably expanded and strengthened at that time, many new urban centres, townships and villages appeared, copper craft, weaving and pottery trades developed. "Zandanechi Silk", "Samarkand paper" and "Shash pottery" had become brand names in all Muslim countries. Such great scientists and philosophers as Farobi, Ar-Razi, Avicenna, Beruni and Narshakhi lived and worked at that period.

By the of 11th century a mighty Turkic Kingdom Karakhanids emerged on the territory of Eastern Turkestan (Kashgar in China), which then expanded to include the adjacent regions such as contemporary Eastern Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan (without Khorezm).

In the 2nd half of the 10th century the Khorezmian State of Mamanids was successfully trading with Iran, Khazariya and Russia and continued to consolidate. Khorezm then was subdued by the Turkmen of Seldjukids (1044), then by Karakitays (middle of the12th century). Yet by the beginning of the 13th century the Khorezm state again had emerged on the political scene under the sway of Khorezmshah dynasty to become one of the largest kingdoms of the in East. Tashkent, Bukhara, Samarkand, Khorasan, Azerbaijan, EasternIrak, Western Iran - all this vast area was under control of Muhammad the Khoresmshah.

In 1219 the Tatar-Mongolian hordes of Genghis Khan invaded Mavarounnahr. In 1221 all territory of Central Asia fell prey to the might of Genghis Khan. "All men - into livestock, all settlements - into pastures" that was the motto of the nomadic khan that no one dared to resist. As a result hundred of towns were razed to ground, irrigation systems destroyed and abandoned, hundred of thousands of people enslaved or slaughtered. The rest had to buy their lives by paying enormous contributions to Mongols.

Central Asia has become part of Chagatay Ulus - the vast kingdom run by Chagatay, the son of Genghis Khan. By the middle of the 14th c AD the Mongol Empire has dissolved to a number of feudal possessions.

Taking the advantage of endless internecine wars, Amir Timur (1336-1405), the Turkified Mongol governor of Kesh area (present day&lsquos Shakrisabz) came to power in Mavarounnahr. He made Samarkand his capital in 1370. Firstly Timur (Tamerlane) had strengthened his absolute rule. He consolidated all the his territories remorselessly suppressing all the revolts. Having improved the domestic situation, in 1380 Timur started his permanent 25-years&lsquo military campaigns conquering Iran, Caucasus, Iraq, Syria, Asia Minor (Turkey) and Northern India. Timur`s Empire at that time was regarded as most vast and powerful state in the world. The huge amount of wealth that Timur had managed to accumulate was not wasted but, on the contrary, was used to improve the economic stance of his kingdom. It was at that time that his capital Samarkand was fully restored, renovated and marvellous monuments, orchards, palaces, irrigation canals and bridges built.

In 1405 during the preparation for a military campaign to China Tamerlane died and his huge state dissolved to several parts. The bigger part including Khorasan with its capital city of Great was governed by Shakhruh, the son of Tamerlane. And the smaller part including Mavarounnahr (the territory of the present Uzbekistan) Shakhruh entrusted to his son Ulughbek with the capital in Samarkand.

Under the Ulugbek&lsquos rule science and art flourished in Mavarounnahr. Best example of this is the construction of a unique astronomical observatory in Samarkand in 1429. However, orthodox Muslim clergy supported by feudal gentry were positioning themselves against Ulugbek`s cultural and scientific undertakings and eventually, skilfully playing on the antagonism and enviousity existed between Ulughbek and his beloved elder son Abdulatif, had organised a coupe and a murder of Ulghbek in 1449.

After the death of Ulugbek the state continued to decay and dissolved into several smaller parts. At the beginning of the 16-th century the Northern nomadic tribes led by Muhammad Sheibanikhan invaded Maverounnahr ousting the last Timurid ruler Babur from Maverounnahr. Bukhara had become the capital of the Sheibanid state. After some period of stability and economic development the Sheibanid state started gradually was coming to decline giving way to the dynasty of Ashtarhanids. By the beginning of the 18th century endless intestine wars resulted in emerging in Mavevarounnahr of three independent rivalling states: Bukhara Emirate, Kokand Khates (in Fergana valley) and Khiva Khanate (Khoresm).

Three states of Bukhara, Kokand and Khorezm were continuously at war with each other for hegemony in Central Asia. At the 19th century the territory of contemporary Uzbekistan was actually divided between the three.

Each state represented a feudal monarchy with the Khan as king (in Bukhara - Emir). There was an orderly management system in place. All states divided into administrative provinces (viloyats) with local appointed rulers as heads (khakims and beks). The role of Islam had become dominating over all aspects of political, administrative and cultural life as well as everyday behaviour of subjects of the states. Islamic clergy exerted control over each and every sphere of activities of people. International economic ties of that time had become sluggish.

Each of the three state conducted its own isolationistic economic policy based predominantly on agriculture. But pottery making, weaving, arms making as well as handicraft production and primitive mining activities were conducted too. All three states were in brisk trading relations with India, Russia and Kashgar. Such products as hand woven cotton and silks (velvet, brocade), wool carpets, leather goods, cotton fibre and cotton yarn were items of steady demand for export from the countries. Despite endless internecine wars there was no such notion as unemployment as permanent irrigation system improvement and repair provided jobs. At this time the importance of cities in Mavarounnahr increased, towns were growing in number and population and the tendencies of former nomadic tribes to settle to sedentary life became stronger.

In the middle of the 19th century Central Asia has become a focus of two vastly expanding colonial empires: Russia and Great Britain. The strategically advantageous location of Central Asia has made it a bone of contest between the two giants. Central Asia was viewed as a huge commodity market, a source of cheap raw materials and labour. Attracted to this region, Russia has made its first ever attempt of conquering Khiva as early as under the Peter the Great in 1717.

At the beginning of the 1850th Russia started its persistent and systematic advancement deep into Central Asia. In 1847 the mouth of the river Sir-Darya and later in 1853 - the Kokand fortress of Ak-Mechet (nowadays Kizil-Orda in Kazakhstan) were subjugated by Russian troops of general Perovsky. Thus a powerful bridgehead for further advancement had been founded. But the Crimean War (1853-1856) deferred the aggression for some time.

In 1863 Pishpek (nowadays Bishkek) and later in the spring of 1864 the Kokand fortresses of Turkestan and Chimkent had been captured by Russians. Tashkent had been successfully stormed in 1865. One year later in 1866 after seizure of Khodjent, Ura-Tube and Djizzak Russian Tsar Alexander the Second had enacted the Behest to set up the Turkestan General Governoship of Russia in Central Asia.

In 1873 the troops of all three states were smashed down and the Peace Accord with Russia concluded, under which Russia established its protectorate over the conquered territories. In effect all Central Asia had been colonised by Russia.

Immediately Russia had began implementation of its colonial ends, first of all developing of cotton growing industry for the sake of aggressively expending Russia&lsquos textile industry. Construction of Trans Caucasus Railway in 1888 as well Orenburg-Tashkent Railway, Fergana Railway had boosted that process up dramatically. By 1900, 171 industrial companies with Russian capital were set up in Central Asia such as ginning plants, creamery, winery and, partly, metal working shops. Most of them were backed up by Russian banking businesses that become flourishing and ludicrous at that time.

After the October Revolution of 1917 in Russia the power in Turkestan had been taken by Bolsheviks. The process of establishing Soviet power in Turkestan was accompanied by bitter strife of local Mujahitdins (Basmachis) led by warlords against Russian Soviet troops.

In 1918 the Independent (Autonomous) Turkestan Soviet Socialist Republic was proclaimed in Tashkent as a member of RSFSR (Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic). Its population at that time was 5.2 million.

By 1923 Soviet power was well established on the whole territory of the present Uzbekistan, but the struggle with the Basmachis (members of anti-Soviet movement in Central Asia) continued till the end of 1920th.

In 1924 the USSR had been constituted in Moscow and consequently the National Delimitation Law enacted to set boundaries for the Republics of Central Asia (the present boundaries of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan). Ever since Uzbekistan had became one of the republics of the Soviet Union.

The Soviet period in history of Uzbekistan continued from 1918 till 1991. For this time Uzbekistan turned into a modern state with well developed industry and agriculture, dozens of new towns, factory and other structures built.

After dissolution of the USSR in 1991 Uzbekistan was proclaimed an independent democratic republic. The first President of independent Uzbekistan has been Mr.Islam Karimov.

Over the years of independence, Uzbekistan has become a full-bodied member of many important international political, economical and financial organizations and is paving its own way in the strife for economic reforms aimed at better future for its people. Since independence dozens of new business links were established between Uzbekistan and many developed countries all over the world. In 2001 Uzbekistan has become the only former SU country to bring its real GDP level up to the level preceding independence in 1991.

The multinational country of well-developed infrastructure, highly educated population and huge mineral wealth, with optimism, Uzbekistan sees its future in line with most developed industrial countries of the world.

4 Cities in Uzbekistan: One of the World’s Ancient Civilizations

Uzbekistan is a country that holds a very special place in my heart. I grew up in Uzbekistan but left due to political issues in 2006, so returning to Uzbekistan was like coming home. It was wonderful to be able to cross the border without a visa – since the death of former president Karimov, the Uzbek government has been making big changes to promote tourism, including unilaterally declaring liberalizations in visa policy. UK citizens (that’s me!) can now enter Uzbekistan for 30 days visa-free. Americans can enter for five days if they enter and leave the country via Uzbek Airlines and otherwise qualify for simple e-visas that are good for 30 days.

The following resource combines short histories of four of Uzbekistan’s major cities, written by SRAS Assistant Director Josh Wilson, with my experience traveling to three of those great and ancient Uzbek cities as part of SRAS’ Central Asian Studies program.


A Brief History of Bukhara

Bukhara is estimated to be about 2300 years old. It was conquered by Alexander the Great and was also once ruled by the Kushan Empire. However, when the Samanids later came into power, they created a large feudal state, with Bukhara as its capital. It was part of what came to be called the Golden Road, the meeting point of the northern and southern branches of the Great Silk Road, and hence a great center for commerce, religion, and culture.

In Sanskrit, Bukhara means “Monastery,” and was revered the Medieval Muslim East as a stronghold of the faith. In the 10th century, Bukhara became a scientific and cultural center, home to famous poets like Rudaki and Dakiki, and Avicenna, the great scientist and physician.

By the mid 19th century, Russia and Britain were both trying to gain control of Central Asia: Russia from the north and Britain from India in the south. Isolated since the time of the Silk Routes, Central Asia had not seen Western visitors for hundreds of years. Although Russia gained control of much of the region by 1868, Bukhara managed to keep its Emir as the master of the city. Inside the high walls, a strong anti-westerner sentiment was always present, fanned by the Emir himself. In 1918 the Russian revolution spread to Uzbekistan, but Bukhara never really fell into the fold until the city was almost destroyed and thousands of people were massacred by the Red Army on September 6, 1920.

Although Soviet rule lasted until 1991, the city never lost its Eastern culture and atmosphere, or its independent spirit. With more than 140 architectural monuments dating back to the Middle Ages, Bukhara is today a “museum town” with lots of history to see.

The edge of a marketplace in Bukhara, Delights to be found in the market.

Visiting Bukhara Today

The tour started when I crossed the border from Turkmenistan. Having finished my time there, my tour guide escorted me to the border for the crossing. On the other side, a tour-arranged driver picked me up and drove me to Bukhara.

I was relieved that he waited, as it took 50 minutes to get through! Interestingly, I didn’t actually need to wait in lines as I was the only tourist so they bumped me to the front of all the queues. The reason it took so long was because the border was so wide and required two bus rides to get across.

Hotel Siyavush in Bukhara was lovely the rooms were decorated with Uzbek textiles, and everything was clean, with all the modern conveniences. The breakfast was also excellent, offering a selection of cereals, breads, salads, and fresh pastries. My one criticism is that the Internet was temperamental and when it did work, it wasn’t very fast. Uzbekistan, which was a much more closed country under the previous president, never prioritized developing its Internet and connections to the outside world. It currently ranks very low in world rankings for speed and quality of Internet overall. Hopefully they will work on this along with the visa policy. Besides this, I was very happy with my stay.

On the first day, I relaxed at the hotel, went for a walk in the surrounding area, and took some time to recover from my trip to Turkmenistan. The next morning, we began the group tours. We saw beautiful madrasahs, haggled our way through the bazaar, and lunched at an old caravan rest stop. For all this, Bukhara was my favourite city that we visited – ancient buildings, colorful bazaars, and friendly people made it a wonderful trip. The next morning we traveled on to Samarkand by train, arriving in the afternoon.


A Brief History of Samarkand

Samarkand was founded at the same time as Babylon, Memphis, Athens, and Rome – almost 2500 years ago. It has been called the “Pearl of the Muslim World,” “Eden of Ancient East,” and “Rome of the East.”

Samarkand has been conquered many times – by Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, and Tamerlane, for instance. Tamerlane made it his capital and named it the “Center of the Universe.” Here was a mix of those from Iran, India, Persia, and Mongolia, and being the central part of the Silk Road, was additionally influenced by China, the Middle East, and Europe. Samarkand saw its glory at the height of trade on the Silk Road, beginning in the 2nd century and lasting until the 16th century.

In May 1868, Samarkand fell to the Russian Empire, caught up in what is now known as The Great Game. Under Russian rule the city changed its face buildings and walls were torn down and the city was turned into a Russian military fortress. After the Russian Revolution, Samarkand became capital of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic.

Despite the destruction of the early Russian era and the Soviet “imports” of factories and concrete buildings, the city remains one of the most historical and beautiful in Central Asia. Today, the independant Uzbek Republic is working to bring back the glory and beauty of its ancient pearl.

Beautiful architecture in Samarkand

Traveling to Samarkand Today

Samarkand is a big city, somewhere between ancient and modern. There, we visited a lot of interesting sights. Amongst them included Registan Square, St Daniel’s Mausoleum, and Ulugbek Observatory. Registan Square was super cool for me, as I was able to recreate old pictures from my childhood! Our tour guide was friendly and informative but unfortunately didn’t have a very high level of English so we asked him to speak in Russian instead.

The hotel was very nice, and the owner was particularly friendly. On one of the days I became unwell so had to spend the day in bed – upon finding out, he sent up a pot of lemon tea, honey, and a plate of biscuits free of charge!

I wasn’t able to enjoy the tours of Samarkand, but my fellow student Camryn Vaughn describes them as such:

Our tour guide Sabir took us to the famed Registan Square with its surrounding madrassas and we sampled many dried fruits and sweets at Siab Bazaar. Following lunch at a cafe, we spent our free time walking to another bazaar to shop for souvenirs before we were driven to an arranged dinner at a local homestay where we were served a lot of delicious plov.

The next day began with Sabir showing us the mausoleum of the Prophet Daniel and how to drink three times from a nearby fountain of spring water, which was said to grant wishes. Next was the Ulug Beg Observatory, which also included a museum on-site that held artifacts from Ulug Beg’s astronomical studies and his immense contributions to the understanding of the cosmos. Following the observatory, we visited the Hojom silk carpet factory where we were given a tour and saw carpet-weaving in action. No wonder hand-made carpets are so expensive it is intricate and difficult work. After touring the factory (and its gift shop), we dined once more on plov, Uzbekistan’s proud national dish. Following lunch, our guide showed us the Gur-Emir Mausoleum, where Tamerlane is buried. This wrapped up our time in Samarkand.


A Brief History of Tashkent

Tashkent, or at least the region around it, has been home to humans for over 3,000 years. There is no written record of a settlement, however until Arabs took control of the area in the 8th century A.D. and the city flourished with trade along the silk route.

The Arabs remained in control until the arrival of Ghengis Khan in the 13th century. By this time it had already become one of the largest and most influential cities in Central Asia. With the fall of Ghengis Khan, the city passed to the control of Tamerlain. By 1449, Tamerlain’s great empire fell into anarchy, and the city eventually came under the control of the Khanate of Kokhand.

By 1865, Russian forces controlled the city and made it the capital of Russian Turkistan. When the Central Soviet Government broke Turkistan up into several regions, Tashkent replaced Samarkand as the capital of the Uzbek SSR in 1930, and today it is the capital of an independent Uzbekistan.

The largest city in Central Asia, Tashkent boasts the region’s only subway system, and is a splendid mix of old and new. The city was partially destroyed in a 1966 earthquake, and efforts continue even today to rebuild the old section of the city. As it is the largest center for cotton production in Asia, amongst certain age groups, it is hard to find someone who didn’t travel to Tashkent as a Soviet youth to work in the cotton fields for a summer.

As the main transportation hub (both air and rail) for Central Asia, most travelers to the region will likely pass through Tashkent.

Travel to Tashkent Today

After four days in Samarkand, we took the high speed train to Tashkent (launched just eight years ago) for the last part of our tour. Unfortunately it was raining hard on our last day, so it was a very cold and wet walking tour – as a Scot I didn’t mind too much, though it was difficult to get good quality photos. We visited Chorsu Bazaar, Amir Temur museum, and several monuments. In the afternoon we had some free time so my tour guide kindly took me to a park that I used to play in when I was a kid, and I had a chance to wander around reminiscing for a while. I spent the final evening getting a workout at the gym and eating dinner at a Turkish restaurant.

Overall, walking the silk road through Uzbekistan was a wonderful experience. I was able to see new things and reminisce over the old, catching a glimpse of a country merged by the ancient and the modern. My highlight? Eating plov every day! Needless to say, this trip is recommended for anyone who loves history, warm culture, and good food.

Central Asian Studies from SRAS
based in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan


A Short History of Khiva

Khiva is located in the Khorezm oasis inside the great Karakum Desert. While the Khorezm khanate was famous in the 4th century B.C. the actual date of origin of Khiva is lost in the mists of time. Some archaeologists believe it was founded about the same time as the birth of Christ, and was named after the ancient well of Kvivak, said to have been discovered by Shem, the Son of Noah. The remains of that ancient well are in the old city, and you are likely to see many newlyweds who come here to drink for good luck.

In the 10th century, the region was home to great philosophers, including Abu Ali Bin Sina (Avicenna) and was the center of a major agricultural civilization, whose armies routed the Roman legions of Marcus Crassus. Its power derived from sitting astride the great caravan routes from east to west, and in the 16th century, it became the capital of the Khorezm state. That state thrived until being decimated by the Mongols.

About the Author

Kathryn Watt

Kathryn Watt, at the time she wrote for this site, was a Russian and Linguistics student of The University of Edinburgh. She was also studying Russian language and Central Asian Studies with SRAS at the London School in Bishkek. Having grown up in beautiful Uzbekistan, she was delighted to return to Central Asia! Her long-term plans included pursuing a career in journalism, and getting exposure to language and culture was a core part of that pursuit.

View all posts by: Kathryn Watt

Josh Wilson

Josh Wilson is the Assistant Director for The School of Russian and Asian Studies (SRAS) and Communications Director for Alinga Consulting Group. In those capacities, he has been managing publications and informative websites covering geopolitics, history, business, economy, and politics in Eurasia since 2003. He is based in Moscow, Russia. For SRAS, he also assists in program development and leads the Home and Abroad and Challenge Grant scholarship writing programs.

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