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Uzbekistan: Bloggers stand for Umida Akhmedova

GV has already covered a story of the Uzbek documentary photographer Umida Akhmedova, accused of insult and slander against Uzbek people and traditions. This fact caused indignation among local and foreign journalists, photographers and Internet users.

At the moment, more than 600 people from various countries signed the online petition “Protest and Anger”, initiated by the International Coalition of Journalists “Caucasia”. Vibrant discussions of the topic are also taking place among bloggers.

Ivanivanch writes (ru):

The Uzbekistan authorities are well known for their inadequacy towards journalists, photographers and even tourists, although my friends say that common people of Uzbekistan are very nice (…) After the whole situation around Umida Akhmedova, I realize that stories about the natives – as well as all rumors about the Uzbek officials – are true.

Many bloggers condemn authoritarian actions of the state bodies. Kinobomj is much more outspoken (ru):

I am shocked, why idiots from the government always try to shut the artists’ mouths? I express my protest and I ask my friends to do the same – or, at least, pay attention to the situation.

Responding to this, vikarasik writes (ru):

(…) the authorities are too far from the people. And if they want to knock someone down, nothing will prevent this.

Blogger mulioshka thinks that Umida's problems can be related to the issue of ethnic minorities in Uzbekistan – a topic, which the authorities always tries to avoid discussing. She writes (ru):

While studying ethnography of Uzbekistan, the issue of the territory where native Tajiks live – and which was given to the Uzbek republic in Soviet times – automatically appears.

Many believe that the main reason for prosecution of photographer Umida Akhmedova is her active civil position. Albatrossdoc writes (ru) that Umida Akhmedova and her husband Oleg Karpov (director of Tashkent Film Museum) were way too active for Uzbekistan – making films, photos and showing social topical movies in the Film Museum.

Albatrossdoc guesses that there could be people, who didn’t like it. The Museum has been closed for the last three months and no official explanation was given.

Having a look at Umida’s pictures one can see that she makes photos of the ordinary Uzbek people. Many of them live in poverty – and many are in desperate poverty. Blogger kambodjaa says this was the main reason for persecution of the photographer (ru):

Great photos. But on some of them one can see what exactly is the most disturbing thing for the patriarchal-authoritarian society. It is clear why they charge her.

All Photos by Umida Akhmedova, from photopolygon.com

  • Pingback: Умеда Аҳмадова зиндонй мешавад? « Салими Аюбзод

  • Lynne Johnston

    Beautiful photos. They show life as it is in so many countries with beautiful people doing everyday things. It is a record of life as it is, not good or bad, just real. These are real people doing things that we all do that we can relate to. If the authorities don’t want the world to know the way it is because they are ashamed of some aspects of life, then they could change and improve it rather than hide it. All they are doing now is drawing world attention to the issues they are not dealing with.

  • http://nixenator.deviantart.com/gallery Raine

    The Uzbek government is being absolutely astonishing. They’re showing a profound lack of understanding of artistic purpose and freedom. Truly sad. Though thankfully it brings to light the number of people around the world who can and do appreciate a beautiful photograph.

  • Jacquot

    Umida Akhmedova’s photographs are wonderful, and they present Uzbekistan as a fascinating country with equally fascinating people. I’d love to visit the country, but if the authorities are prepared to arrest and jail a photographer on a flimsy pretext, they seem to be rather backward, and I couldn’t be sure of my or my family’s safety if we visited and committed some undefined offence punishable by an arbitrary punishment. They need to grow up, and they could start by releasing and apologising to Umida Akhmedova.

  • Joy

    As an American and Swiss dual citizen, I wish to assure the authorities that “local color and traditional culture” are the reason that tourism exists. People do not travel to see whether one country’s businessmen and businesswomen look like those of their own country. They do not travel to see if one country’s modern hospital looks like that of another. They travel looking for traces of history that remain in modern life, folk traditions and folk art that remain, and the ways in which tradition can be accommodated in modern life. It is possible that to an Uzbeki eye, there are some subtle features of the pictures that carry inappropriate connotations, but to a foreign eye, they are vibrant, innocent, beautiful and welcoming. In short, they are the sorts of pictures that we try to take in our own countries, of our own people, when we want to celebrate our history.

    Looking at pictures such as these, and reading about the history of the area, my mother was captivated. She has signed up for a historical tour passing through Uzbekistan and the surrounding countries. It is therefore not only a human rights problem to charge this fine photographer–it is also a huge publicity gaffe. Perhaps the authorities would next like to stand up in public and put money through the shredder.

    (I am also trying to post this comment on the original blog mentioned above–no idea if it will work given the different character set.)

  • Ryan

    Countries who stamp on their citizens’ freedom of expression, debate the arts in the courtroom and reward artistic merit with imprisonment, should be putting their own authorities on trial for defamation, negative portrayal and being uncultured. The photos are snapshots of reality, it is the authorities who are artistically interpreting them saying what they think they portray. So if she is found guilty, then the Uzbek government are simply proving that everything they say the photos portray is in fact the truth. It’s self defeating.

  • Shahzod

    This is a joke. i have been living in that country for 12 years and was brought up with all those hardships. How can the authorities claim that those images distort reality? If you have been to Uzbekistan, chances are you have seen whats it like for the locals. If not, you can check out Youtube and see what it is like, just type Samarkand. Thats where i am from. However, its not surprising that the government going all this height to ban her talent. Its not the first time. Uzbekistan is a communist country with a sly dictator that is covered with a democratic-white blanket to cover its ass.

  • Pingback: Support Umida Akhmedova « Abolish Torture

  • http://www.AbolishTorture.com Wael – AbolishTorture.com

    It’s important to allow freedom of expression. Even if the photographs depict poverty and hardship, that should be commended and seen as a call to action, in order to improve the lives of the people. It should never be a crime. When freedom of expression is suppressed, governments can get away with anything.

    How about also including some email addresses for the Uzbekistan government so we can protest to them.

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