Could Central Asia have an 'Arab Spring?'
Secretary Clinton visited Uzbekistan and Tajikistan Saturday and spoke about the need for Central Asian governments to do better on human rights.
October 22nd, 2011
04:38 PM ET

Could Central Asia have an 'Arab Spring?'

By Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty covering the Secretary of State in Tashkent, Uzebekistan

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan (CNN) - At a town hall meeting filled in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton listens as an earnest young woman quotes the words of former U.S. President John F. Kennedy: "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty."

How, the woman asks, can Clinton possibly meet the following day with the president of neighboring Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, whose security forces killed hundreds of protesters in May 2005, in what became known as the Andijan massacre?

The United States "strongly objected" to the events in Andijan, Clinton assures the woman.

"We have had ongoing discussions with the government of Uzbekistan that I will continue when I go there tonight," she adds, "raising issues of human rights, of rule of law, the kind of fundamental freedoms that the United States strongly supports."

Then Clinton leans in to give the young audience, many of whom were born after the Soviet Union collapsed, a history lesson.

When Kennedy was president, she says, he tried to work with the Soviet Union despite very strong disagreements about policy "because we believe it is important to try to continue to exercise whatever influence we can on behalf of people who themselves may not have a voice.

"There are many countries that have taken severe actions against the rights of their citizens in history - this is nothing new - but today, everybody knows about it. There is no way to keep it secret. It will be on the Internet. When President Assad in Syria sends his security forces to kill peaceful demonstrators, they can't hide that anymore."

Here in Central Asia, a region still swirling in transition 20 years after the end of the Soviet Union, human rights are being re-defined daily by governments and by their people. The Soviet constitution extolled its citizens' rights while, in many cases, subverting them. The old slogans today ring hollow.

In post-Soviet Tajikistan, for example, a predominately Muslim country, the government says it is concerned about the threat from radical Islam. It now has a "parenting" law that restricts the ability of young people under the age of 18 to attend mosques. There also is a campaign against women wearing the hijab and men growing beards.

A senior State Department official says the United States is concerned.

"What we said to our friends in the (Tajik) government is that these kinds of actions, first of all, undercut the ability of people to worship - their freedom to worship. But they also risk driving a lot of people underground and basically can be destabilizing," the official said.

At the town hall, Clinton takes up the theme: "The problem for many societies in transition who have a predominant religion in their society, which they respect and cherish because it is their national tradition, a particular religious orientation, is how to make sure you do not impose religion but you create space so that religion can operate.

"I think this is one of the biggest challenges facing many democracies in transition and many Muslim-majority countries," she says, "because there's a new opportunity to try to define what one means by democracy, civil society, and human rights, including the right to have your own religion.

"I believe that everyone is entitled to practice their faith, but no one is entitled to impose their faith on someone else. So how do you balance those two very strong principles? That's what you have to work out in this country and so many other countries."

At almost every stop on her week-long trip to Malta, Oman, Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, Clinton brings up the issue of human rights for women. The town hall in Dushanbe filled with young women in business suits as well as some in traditional attire, is no exception. Speaking about Afghanistan, Clinton says: "There cannot be a peace that sacrifices the rights of women. You will not have a sustainable peace and it would be wrong."

In Tajikistan, the State Department official who spoke on background because of diplomatic sensitivities, says there has been "backsliding" on religious freedom and in the way the government deals with the media. Several reporters have been arrested for stories on corruption and on the arrest of a religious figure, the official says.

In Uzbekistan, the key human rights issues are human trafficking and religious freedom, but the official says the United States does "see more willingness on the part of the Uzbeks to work with us on these big issues."

In her meeting in Tashkent with the Uzbek president, Clinton discussed human rights and "noted the need for progress," the State Department official said.

President Karimov, who has been strongly criticized by some human rights groups, gave what some might consider a surprising reply.

"President Karimov commented that he wants to make progress on liberalization and democratization," the U.S. official told reporters, "and he said that he wants to leave a legacy for both his kids and his grandchildren."

Could Central Asia see its own "Arab Spring" like the uprising that swept through North Africa and the Middle East this year, removing from office long-time dictators? Central Asia, too, has some leaders who have been in power for years. It also has many of the factors that fueled the Arab Spring, including poverty and lack of opportunity for young people.

"I think there has been a demonstration effect around the world of the Arab Spring," the State Department official says.

Still, each nation in Central Asia is different, just as each "Arab Spring" country is different.

Many of Tajikistan's "angry young men" are working in Russia and Kazakhstan because they cannot find jobs at home. They send home crucial remittances to their families. But unemployment is not as bad as in Egypt and Tunisia. Also, social media in Tajikistan is much more controlled. It is more difficult for young people to organize, the official points out.

"So I don't see that there's going to be any imminent sort of Arab Spring-like movements here," the official says. "Nonetheless I think it's important for all of these leaders to pay attention to that and be responsive to the cares and needs of all their people, particularly their young people."

soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Ismaili girl

    medication time women ... WHAT????????

    October 24, 2011 at 9:26 am | Reply
  2. pilot1

    It would be great if there was a Chinese uprising like in Libya. We could mobilize NATO and use that to our advantage and take over that country too. Russia would then shit their pants.

    October 23, 2011 at 9:43 am | Reply
    • InternationalAmerican

      Central Asia is not Asia.

      October 23, 2011 at 10:17 am | Reply
  3. Felicia Birman

    There is indeed a global movement of people not just in North Africa and the Middle East. We have witnessed people gathering in most capital cities of the world including New York. People globally feel that something is wrong – the social, political and economic systems are no longer working. Not understanding the reasons for what is happening, we start blaming the authorities. We naively believe that replacing one government or one system by another will solve our problems.
    I agree with Einstein when he stated “I have now reached the point where I may indicate briefly what to me constitutes the essence of the crisis of our time. It concerns the relationship of the individual to society. The individual has become more conscious than ever of his dependence upon society. But he does not experience this dependence as a positive asset, as an organic tie, as a protective force, but rather as a threat to his natural rights, or even to his economic existence. Moreover, his position in society is such that the egotistical drives of his make-up are constantly being accentuated, while his social drives, which are by nature weaker, progressively deteriorate. All human beings, whatever their position in society, are suffering from this process of deterioration. Unknowingly prisoners of their own egotism, they feel insecure, lonely, and deprived of the naive, simple, and unsophisticated enjoyment of life. Man can find meaning in life, short and perilous as it is, only through devoting himself to society.”

    The problem lies in the connection between us and through our unity we will be able to establish a new world.

    October 23, 2011 at 8:05 am | Reply
  4. BK

    After having tested the most fashionable coctail `revolution 2.1 whoa boy i love al-qaeda' in Libya and being fully teased, the administration can't wait to serve a longer drink of it to everyone. America... yeah.

    October 23, 2011 at 8:03 am | Reply
    • InternationalAmerican

      The US Embassy was bombed in Tashkent six years ago by an Uzbek branch of al Qaeda, so does this pertain to your Libya comment? This has nothing to do with terrorism, but internal regional unrest caused by dictatorship. Uzbeks are not free to succeed commercially, are under a firewall within a government controlled media, unable to run for offices in any sort of fair public elections, afraid of disappearing if anyone says anything around the corrupt secret police, and unable to consolidate militarily if willing to rebel against Karimov. You would be surprised to know the real truth of the US relationship with Uzbekistan. America has very little influence there, but, ironically, the black marketrelies on the US dollar. Why is this?

      October 23, 2011 at 8:19 am | Reply
      • BK

        Yeah, and we had 11.09.01 even before that, so what? It doesn't prevent us from puppeting those radicals for our own good.

        October 23, 2011 at 8:30 am |
    • InternationalAmerican

      Uzbekistan kicked out the US Military base set up for supporting the war in Afghanistan. Then Sen. John McCain got congress to pay 22 million after the fact. Who's the puppet?

      October 23, 2011 at 8:58 am | Reply
      • BK

        Boy, do you have comprehension issue? I thought I had already written it: radicals (like muslims from LIFG from Derna) make you a perfect puppet. Yeah, sometimes they could bite our hands too, but didn't we get used to concept of "collaterial damage" here?

        October 23, 2011 at 9:51 am |
      • InternationalAmerican

        You did not say who the radicals are that you referred to. Uzbekistan supresses religious people and ideologies. The country is Muslim, but not the state itself. Sometimes they throw Muslims into jail just for attending regular sermons. You are misjudging the actual situation, and assuming all the Central Asizn countries are the same. This is typical and not surprising.

        October 23, 2011 at 10:27 am |
      • BK

        Funny, I was not reffering to Uzbekistan radicals in my 11.01 remark. Comprehension ftw.

        October 23, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
  5. damon

    Could Central Asia have an 'Arab Spring?' Methinks it couldn't ,for it will be answered by Russian or Chinese nuclear winter. It is very safe to assume that NATO will NOT intervene if and when such a "season" eventuates.

    October 23, 2011 at 7:02 am | Reply
  6. sam ogbo

    @Serenadda, did i hear u say "RACIALLY MOTIVATED VIOLENCE AGAINST WHITE" ???

    October 23, 2011 at 6:16 am | Reply
  7. fairvoice.wordpress.com

    central Asian countries will face protest of their people because of high price of living,

    October 23, 2011 at 5:59 am | Reply
  8. wasso

    Is OWP "Arab Spring" for the US ?

    October 23, 2011 at 5:36 am | Reply
  9. Sindhi

    Could North America and Northern Europe have an 'Arab Spring?'

    October 23, 2011 at 5:36 am | Reply
    • noname

      And what? Turn them into dictatorship? communism?

      Havn't u heard of the phrase that, 'Democracy is the worst type of government, except for all others.'

      October 23, 2011 at 6:03 am | Reply
      • pera zdera

        i assume that you do not know what you are talking about, but for the rest of the world, since Berlin wall fell down, USA and Western Europe make Evil Empire. There is a quite small difference to Nazi Germany or fascist Japan.

        October 23, 2011 at 7:30 am |
  10. Paul

    " It also has many of the factors that fueled the Arab Spring, including poverty and lack of opportunity for young people."

    We have "Poverty" and "Unemployment" in the US too. Do you want to know how America would treat it's own "arab spring"?

    October 23, 2011 at 5:22 am | Reply
    • noname

      U dumbshit. What do you expect America to become? Communism?

      October 23, 2011 at 6:01 am | Reply
      • Truth

        A true democracy? U do know that US democracy is far from real democracy! Check some european real democracy countrys and look back at US, then u will see.

        October 23, 2011 at 7:04 am |
  11. Vorps

    Serenada LMAO now that is unadulterated crazy.

    October 23, 2011 at 1:25 am | Reply
  12. Virginia

    lol at Serenadda

    October 23, 2011 at 1:00 am | Reply
  13. ytuque

    The young Tajik woman asked Hillary a good question which like any good politician she ducked.

    October 22, 2011 at 11:25 pm | Reply
  14. tom

    stop warmongering usa government your storing up trouble for your selves ,citizens of America do not let your government create more war for wealth and oil ...................

    October 22, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Reply
    • InternationalAmerican

      Uzbekistan, in particular, has done a good job of not allowing US meddle with their affairs. The result is continuation of torture, slavery, and drug trafficking. This has nothing to do with the USA. Rumours of revolution have been ongoing since Spring in Tashkent. They banned rock and roll, for goodness sakes! If Uzbeks care to revolt, then they will, however they know that Karimov will kill thousands dduring the conflict. He alrady did this once before in the Fergana Valley.

      October 23, 2011 at 6:32 am | Reply
  15. SERENADDA

    WHITES AREN’T WELCOME IN AMERICA ANY LONGER !!! OUT OF AMERICA WITH WHITES NOW !!!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xGfYOAydjw OR http://www.youtube.com/user/BostjanAvsec <== OBAMA'S HEALTH CARE RECORDED LIVE IN 2009. These are hard facts about lunatic Obama/Bush's twilight zone administrations(HORROR) or genocide against white population

    Ask your local newspaper/media why do they keep silent about crime/genocide !!? Ask them why do they KNOWINGLY participate in crime/genocide !!! BECAUSE SILENCE = CRIME !!!

    ANTI WALL STREET PROTESTS = TRANSFER OF OWNERSHIP = COMMUNISM

    WALL STREET PROTESTS...NOT ANTI WALL-STREET AT ALL, BUT INSTEAD RACIALLY MOTIVATED VIOLENCE AGAINST WHITES !!!

    ANTI WALL-STREET PROTESTS ARE ALSO KNOWN UNDER ZIONIST "TRANSFER OF OWNERSHIP" IN AMERICA !!! TRANSFER OF OWNERSHIP FROM HANDS OF WHITE AMERICANS TO SO CALLED "MINORITIES"(COMMUNISM) http://multiculturalismisterrorism.blogspot.com/

    THEY WERE MURDERING YOU WITH AND INSIDE OF THEIR CORPORATIONS FOR OVER 66 YEARS !!! THEY HAVE CLOSED DOWN ALMOST EVERY SMALL COMPANY(FARMS) IN UNITES STATES OF AMERICA AND NOW, THEY WANT YOU TO GO OUT THERE AND PROTEST FOR THEM AGAINST WALL STREET(because corporations = Wall-street) !!!

    THEY CRIME CONTEMPLATED AGAINST US PER EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION FOR OVER 66 YEARS AND NOW, THEY WANT YOU TO RAISE COMMUNIST FLAG UNDER AMERICAN SKY !!! ONE RACE; RAT RACE(Wall street protesters are Obama's raise of the planet Apes army which spread from London per Zionist Washington DC and communist Moscow where new Stalin is in place – PUTIN) !!!

    IF YOU PROTEST(YOU SHOULD), MAKE SURE TO RAISE SIGN WHERE DISPLAYED I CITE "66 YEARS OF GENOCIDE AGAINST WHITES IS NO LONGER ACCEPTABLE" OR GET LOST HOME IF NOT ALREADY HOMELESS(I despise people who starve to death out there and are afraid to say out loud what is truth...I despise people who only see themselves and do NOT care even about children of their own...children who will be turned one day in white refugees as seen on above video thanks to their parents who are awaiting...awaiting in fear to become homeless and what is inevitable at any given moment) !!!

    CREATE AWARENESS AND POST THIS VERY SAME VIDEO ON YOUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL.

    WAKE UP YOUR FRIENDS AND SAVE YOURSELF FROM AGONY(did you know that over one hundred million of so called minorities lives already in United States very today and as a result, over 450 million whites worldwide were murdered with economic genocide/oppression since WWII just as seen and proven in above video !!?)...

    THERE IS ESTIMATED THAT ONGOING GENOCIDE TREND WILL CONTINUE TO GO ON FOR AT LEAST ANOTHER 50 YEARS IF NOT DESTROYED(is completed only 30% so far) AND IS ONLY MATTER OF TIME WHEN YOU ARE NEXT IN LINE FOR THE SAKE OF MULTICULTURALISM(TERRORISM)...

    911 WAS CREATED FOR PEOPLE TO WAKE UP(deliberately by CIA)....HOWEVER, WAKE UP EITHER WHAT IS TRUTH(sanity) OR WAKE UP TO LIES(insanity = with what your self elected governments have brainwashed you when forcefully jobless/persecuted....therefor­­e, I want you to think about "WAKE UP" when watching next time ALEX JONES = CIA)

    WHEN YOU WAKE UP, I WANT YOU TO WAKE TO YOURSELF AND NOT TO SOMEONE ELSE'S DREAM (ZIONIST/COMMUNIST/LIBERAL DREAM CATCHERS/THIEFS, WHO PLOTTED 911 TO WAKE YOU AFTERWARDS WITH ECONOMIC OPPRESSION IN A WORLD OF LIES !!!)

    HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT TRUTH IS !!? WHATEVER YOU WERE BORN IS WHAT YOU ARE(truth therefore) AND FOR WHATEVER REASONS YOU HAVE CHANGED(distorted yourself) SINCE 9/11 IS WHAT YOU ARE NOT !!!

    IS IT INDEPENDENCE THAT WE CELEBRATE OR DEPENDENCE (what are your credit card bills or alimony saying about it) !!? HOW IS YOUR DIABETES AND LOST MARRIAGES !!? FORECLOSURES AND JOB SEARCH !!? THAT IS THE QUESTION TO BE OR NOT TO BE !!! IS IT LAND OF THE FREE OR STATE OF TERROR AGAINST OWN WHITE POPULATION !!? IT IS TIME TO LET THEM KNOW WHAT COLOR ARE THE STRIPES ON OUR STAR SPANGLED BANNER !!! TIME TO DETERMINE WHOSE INDEPENDENCE/AMERICA, WE CELEBRATE TODAY(who wants to erase us and denies us the right to exist) !!! IT IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW WHOM WE ADDRESS WITH "PRESIDENT" (STOP HUMILIATING YOURSELF) !!!

    YES , WE CAN..YES , WE CAN..WE WILL WIN IN WAR ON TERROR (30 whities or what are terrorists will never come back alive due to Afghanistan helicopter crash...thank you lord..aamen).

    Whitie is fighting war on terrorism just to come home and be pronounced as terrorist...turned in Timothy, jobless, homeless ..YESSS, WE CAN....FISH CAN & TENT CITY USA CAN...GABBY OPENED HER EYES CAN(psycho Tucson)

    OS(B)AMA IS MOVING OUT OF AFGHAN FEW DAYS AFTER MY POSTING ONLINE(out of Iraq few months before elections) AND IS WILLING TO IMPROVE ECONOMY(genocide against whites) FEW MONTHS AHEAD OF ELECTIONS(what is the difference between temporary and permanent jobs in USA!!?) !!

    ALL THESE JUST SO YOU CAN CLICK AGAIN ON ELECTRONIC VOTING MACHINES WHICH CAN BE ALL CONTROLLED(AND ARE CONTROLLED OR COMPUTER OPERATED) FROM A SINGLE CELLULAR PHONE(for entire USA)...JUST SO YOU CAN CHOSE AGAIN BETWEEN WHATEVER WAS ALREADY CHOSEN FOR YOU TO CHOOSE FROM BY ZIONIST/JEWISH LOBBY IN WASHINGTON DC.

    Don't worry O(s)bama, you have just saved lots of Dollars in your DEBT DEALS(DEAD & ILL) as those America best (Navy Seals) would also grew older and then you already know how it goes !!!

    WAKE-UP !!! WAKE UP PEOPLE BEFORE IT GETS ALL TO LATE ON PLANET APE !!! TEARS WON'T DO YOU ANY GOOD !!! AS BUSH STATED "THAT'S WHAT THEY ARE PAID FOR"(to die ) !! STOP THE GOVERNMENT TERRORISM AND TERROR AGAINST WHITES WORLDWIDE IN THE NAME OF MULTYCULTURALISM OR NWO !!

    EVEN IF IRAQ WOULD BE WAR FOR OIL, VETERANS WOULDN'T NEVER EVER HAVE TO BE HOMELESS PEOPLE THE WAY THEY ARE AND NOR WOULD OUR PEOPLE DIE ALLOVER THE PLACE THEY DO AND TO VERY TODAY(never ending war story)...BECAUSE EVEN IF WAR WAS FOR THE SAKE OF MONEY, MONEY SHOULD BE USED FOR AMERICAN CITIZENS AND NOT WHAT THE CASE IS OR AGAINST WHITES(66 YEARS AFTER WWII, THEY HAVE EATEN YOU IN AND OUT LIKE IN GERMANY PRIOR TO WWII...all your sacrifice during WWII was for nothing and the worse is yet to come in America)...

    October 22, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Reply
    • Hey

      i saw your 23 min video and i still dont get wtf your talking about its to broken up can you make it more clear

      October 23, 2011 at 3:10 am | Reply

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