The 'laborious' decolonisation of the peoples of Central Asia
The former Soviet countries of the region busy recovering the deep dimensions of their own memory. Kyrgyzstan still lagging behind. Further ahead Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The history of peoples begins with that of families. The humiliating labour migration to Russia and Europe from the region.
Moscow (AsiaNews) - "We have invited guests from 13 countries to document the repressions, and the arduous exit from colonisation of the past... today with the war in Ukraine this issue has become truly crucial".
This is explained by Gulzat Alagoz, a specialist of the historical research platform 'Esimde', which has been engaged for years in recovering the deep dimensions of the memory of the Central Asian peoples.
Esimde studies the history of Kyrgyzstan between the 20th and 21st centuries, presenting the stories and testimonies of individuals and groups of people, collecting archival documents and publishing these materials for a wide audience. In Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, the academic body organised the international conference 'On the Bridge of Memory'. Various scholars, social workers, activists and artists involved in this field took part, with guests also from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Russia.
The aim of the initiative is to 'save our culture and language from tyranny', a liberation to be achieved through science, art, economics and in every field of social life. It is the 'return to self' with the memory and rehabilitation of the victims of persecution, which must accompany the consciousness of contemporaries. Alagoz also appreciates the efforts in this regard by the neighbouring countries in the region and the former Soviet peoples.
According to the expert, Kyrgyzstan should take an example from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, where the respective governments have passed much more effective laws for these purposes, while 'we are very slow on this'.
On 7-8 October, Kyrgyzstan celebrates the 'Days of History and Ancestors'. In other states in the region, there are instead special 'Days of Remembrance for Victims of Repression'. The Kazakhs dedicate them to the 'victims of the repressions and the Holodomor', the famine caused by the Stalinist collectivisations that mainly affected the Ukraine, but was also very much felt in Central Asia.
Uzbekistan has rehabilitated many people who had participated in the 'Basmacy' and 'Dzhadidy' movements, reformers and intellectuals from the Muslim area who had been severely repressed, to whom specific museums and archives have been dedicated, something that has not yet been achieved in Kyrgyzstan. During the conference, the successes and delays of many countries on these initiatives were compared.
The president of the Russian Memorial Association, Jan Racinsky, also spoke, noting that it is necessary to insist on keeping all archives open: 'Throughout the post-Soviet space, access to archives remains a problem, because in 70 years of the regime, information was not disseminated, which cannot be found in books and other publications, and much data is still buried... hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people do not know what happened to their fathers and predecessors, often not even where they were buried. The history of peoples begins with the history of families.
The director of the memorial museum in Tashkent, Bakhrom Irzaev, studied the fates of young people from Turkestan who had gone to study in Germany in the years before the rise of Nazism. One of them, Timur Kazybekov, had returned to Uzbekistan after his studies, becoming an important public figure, establishing textile companies and spreading German culture, only to be shot by the Soviets in 1938 in Fergana. Visiting the house-museum dedicated to him, Kyrgyz President Zaparov said that 'Uzbekistan is at least a decade ahead of us'.
Issues of memory and identity are also linked to the last thirty years post-Soviet, characterised above all by the humiliating labour migration from these countries to Russia and Europe, on which many speakers dwelt. Esimde had already given two lectures in 2018 and 2020, on the 'Language of Memory' and the 'Sons of Mankurt', the name of the slave from a novel by Cinghiz Ajtmatov.