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Do the Uigurs have any problems?
Aziz Kamilov (Tashkent)
During the Soviet era, the Uighur people divided the Uighur people into two unequal parts: most of them lived in the XUAR of the People's Republic of China, the smaller - in Central Asia and Kazakhstan. By the end of the twentieth century, the ethno-social features between them had already become quite tangible, and this process acquired a steady trend. There even appeared peculiar ethnonyms emphasizing the differences: Chinese Uygur (Khailik) and Soviet Uygur. After 1991, the state border appeared in Central Asia. Gradually, the countries of the region became different from each other, and this affected the behavioral algorithm of the peoples of these countries. Already today, it can be stated that there are serious differences even between the Uigurs of the three main republics of Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan).

On the territory of modern Uzbekistan a significant part of the Uyghur people live from the second half of the XIX century. Basically, the Uighurs are traditionally deployed in the Fergana Valley, which is closely adjacent to the Kashagr oasis. Until the early sixties, especially in the 1930s and 1940s, the Uygur Theater (Andijan) functioned in Uzbekistan, periodicals were published in Tashkent, numerous books and educational materials (Tashkent, Samarkand), there were schools with Uygur language of instruction (Fergana Valley) , in the eastern faculty of the Central Asian State University, Uigur philologists, teachers of the Uygur language and literature were trained. According to various sources, by the early 1950s, up to 500,000 ethnic Uighurs lived in Uzbekistan. During this period, the republic was the cultural and scientific center of the region, which later moved to Alma-Ata.

According to the census of 1959, just over 19 thousand Uigurs lived in Uzbekistan. Such a noticeable reduction in the number of the Uyghur population is associated with the consequences of the Uzbek assimilation, which occurred mostly due to the special proximity of the language and culture of both peoples. Another reason was the policy of the government to consolidate the country's population and many representatives of the Turkic peoples (Uigurs, Kazakhs) were forcibly recorded as Uzbeks.

According to the last census, there are more than 35 thousand Uighurs in the Republic of Uzbekistan. The overwhelming majority are those Uighurs and their descendants who migrated to the territory of the country from China in the years of the so-called “cultural revolution”, fleeing repression. A small part are the Uygurs of Semerechye, who previously lived in Kazakhstan and moved to Uzbekistan in the seventies-eighties of the last century.

At present, the Republican Uygur Cultural Center (Chairman S. Tokhtamov), which is not an independent public organization, functions in Uzbekistan. Structurally, it is part of the Republican International Cultural Center (RICC), which unites all such entities of different ethnic groups of Uzbekistan. Only in agreement with the RICC, the Republican Uygur Cultural Center (RCC) can hold certain events that are mainly cultural.

The tasks that confront Rukts today are traditional for several decades now. This is, first of all, the opening of cultural centers in places of compact residence of the Uighurs at the district and city levels. So, today there is the Uygur Cultural Center of Tashkent, the Andijan Regional Uygur Center and several similar formations in a number of districts of Tashkent. Among the priorities of the work of these local centers is the organization of electives for the study of the Uygur language and literature in schools, where the interest of students is possible. Where Uighur children study, organize school libraries in Uigur language. Within the framework of the Center itself, various circles of folk art, folk music, etc. are created from time to time. This work is carried out with varying success and rests only on the enthusiasm of individual members of the Center. All work is practically built on a voluntary basis, and, unfortunately, is not very productive.

In 2004, a number of Uyghur businessmen re-organized the Uygur ensemble, which operates on an ongoing basis.

There are no publications in the ROCC. In Tashkent almost no books are printed in the Uigur language. All literature comes from Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. There are also receipts from the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China, but they are extremely irregular. In addition, this literature is written in Arabic script, and only older people, people from XUAR, can read it. The RCC is an absolutely non-politicized organization, and the authorities strictly follow this. When in the late nineties there was an attempt to create the Organizing Committee of the International Union of Uigur organizations in Central Asia, the leaders of the RCC, which was formally a public organization, did not support this initiative. At the same time, the authorities of Uzbekistan, for well-known reasons, prohibit the spreading of Xinjiang (East-Turkestan) problems in any context, in order not to irritate official Beijing.

The RCCC traditionally holds two main events of the year: Navruz on April 21 and Mustakillik - Independence Day on September 1. These days in the Park of Culture and Rest. A small concert is held in Tashkent in Beaubourg, a demonstration-tasting of Uigur dishes, an exhibition of paintings by Uyghur artists, etc. Among other events held in the framework of the cultural center, one can note the celebration of anniversaries of Uighur representatives of various fields of activity. Most often these are the anniversaries of Uighur writers and scholars.

At the present stage, the problem of assimilation is most acute for the Uigurs of Uzbekistan. There are quite close linguistic and cultural ties between the Uzbeks and the Uighurs, almost a common historical past. It is quite difficult to preserve one’s identity, language and customs of the thirty-five thousand people in the twenty-five million republic. If at all possible. True, the citizens of Uzbekistan, regardless of their nationality, do not feel any discomfort in the mono-national republic. In the presence of socio-economic difficulties, the problems of nationalities go far back. And after two or three decades, there may be none at all.
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Codtn
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23.03.2005
In fact, this is Reuters information http://www.reuters.com/locales/c_newsArticle.jsp?type=businessNews&localeKey;=en_RU&storyID;=7983550
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