Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Basmachi were ‘Taliban of Their Times,’ Uzbek Says in Objecting to Their Rehabilitation

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 7 – At the end of last month, the Supreme Court of Uzbekistan posthumously rehabilitated 115 people, most of whom had been active in the anti-Soviet Basmachi movement that at least one Uzbek who objects to this argues were “the Taliban of their times.”

            Bakhtiyor Ergashev, head of Tashkent’s Ma’po Center for Research, says he was particularly disturbed by the rehabilitation without any public hearing of Ibragimbek Chakabayev, who led a band of 1,000 Basmachis back from Afghanistan in 1931 in an attempt to overthrow Soviet power in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan (stanradar.com/news/full/46447-reabilitatsija-basmachej-v-uzbekistane-neudobnye-voprosy-bez-otvetov.html).

            His band was defeated; he was captured; and after a trial in Tashkent, Chakabayev was executed, Ergashev recounts. What one must ask, he says, is how could anyone rehabilitate someone whose program was as reactionary and oppressive as the Taliban in Afghanistan have been?

            The Basmachi leader wanted to “overthrow Soviet power, restore the monarchy, return the former orders and above all the power of landlords and shariat courts,” Ergashev says. What that means is that he was “deeply reactionary and anti-modernization.” According to him, Chakabayev lost because the people did not want to return to that past.

            What can those in Tashkent, driven by anti-communism and anti-sovietism, have been thinking by rehabilitating someone like that? Such people do not understand what they are doing or do understand and want to keep it hidden from the population. “In essence, Ibragimbek and on the whole the Basmachi movement are exactly what the Taliban now are.”

            We criticize the Taliban but we are now rehabilitating the Basmachi. What’s next? Handing out awards posthumously, of course, to such people and making them honorary citizens of this or that Central Asian city? Or completely rehabilitating the Turkestan Legion of the Nazi SS?

            Such an approach not only ignores history but morality as well, Ergashev says; and it should not be tolerated. He says he has a personal reason for his convictions. His grandfather fought against Ibragimbek, and his mother worked to liquidate illiteracy among the peoples of Central Asia.

            What would they think if they could see those they fought against being rehabilitated by their own government? Because they would certainly know what their fate would have been had those they fought against won out. His grandfather would have been enslaved; and his grandmother would have been left illiterate and forced to wear a burqa.

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