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China Letter-News and Human Rights

China human rights news with focus on the Uygur of Xinjiang, Tibetans and Tibet, Chinese mining workers, religion, corruption and censorship.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Violence in Uzbekistan Not Terrorism?


Pacific News Service

Uzbek Police check vehicles after recent bombings in Uzbekistan. Pic courtesy Yahoo News-Whilst not pretending to be a Central Asian expert the recent events in Uzbekistan do have ramifications for China and the Uygur of Xinjiangas well.

Uzbekistan and Implications For China

In my post a couple of days ago which was carried by the Asia Times On Line (my thanks to them for giving a "blogger" a go). I looked at possible reactions from the Chinese to the events in Uzbekstan.

The Uygur/Uzbekistan link arises from claims made by China shortly after "9/11" that there existed "Uygur Terrorist" organisations with links to al Qaeda and more importantly, as it concerns the current events, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) whose name has been thrown into the ring as one of the likely suspects in the Uzbek bombings.

My assessment in that article was that, for a variety of reasons, the Uzbek events should have no real effects on China's immediate policies on the Uygur and as the dust settles this so far has been true.

But by going through that exercise I have come to the conclusion that the events in Uzbekistan are not terrorist linked.


Criteria For Terrorism

One of the very basic criteria for terrorism is that it's acts are meant to instill fear to the degree that it can be called "terror" in a wide section of a community and by community I mean civilian, not military, not government infrastructure and certainly not the police..

As well it always used as an "advertisment" for the objectives of the terrorist or terrorist organisation. In other words they want the world to know who did it and why they did it.

These two basic criteria for terrorism are very often forgotten whenever a bomb is let off in any part of the world. All too easily we immediately think terrorist and in doing so automatically look for the hand of al Qaeda.

And I am beginning to think some of our political leaders want us to do exactly that.

But if we look at the events in Uzbekistan neither of these criterion is met. There is no widespread terror among the population and there has been no "claiming" of responsibility.


Police The Target?


The targets appear to have been the police not the public. Whislt 47 died only 13 of the dead were people not associated with the bombers and these were mainly police officers. There is of course an air of uneasiness in Uzbekistan cities but it is by all reports far short of terror. In fact some reports have people actually "happy" that the considerably corrupt police have suffered quite heavily.

Then there is the lack of "claiming". No one has put their hand up and said it was us and this is why we did it. In Uzbekistan with the highly unpopular and repressive regime run by Karimov one would think there are plenty of reasons for such demonstrations against the state and plenty of people only too pleased to claim responsibilty.

But no-one has stepped up to the plate. No-one has taken advantage of the immense international publicity the events have generated to espouse their cause. What is the use of bombings if no one knows why it was done or what it is for? That is not "terrorism"

But perhaps in this case the message that traditional terrorism attempts to get across to a wider target market has been received loud and clear but by a very particular target market. Maybe because we have been trained to instantly make a "Pavlov dog" progression from bomb blast to "terrorism" then to al qaeda that we can not see the wood for the trees.

Possible Drug Angle?

Uzbekistan is the hub of the Central Asian drug trade. A staging point and conduit for many gangs and organised criminal organisations, to run drugs into China Asia Russia and Europe.

They may have been trying to get a message across about their cause , not to the general public and the world , but to a select group namely law enforcement in Uzbekistan.

The message would be clear to the target market and therefore no need to publicise to a larger world as a terrorist would need to, thus the lack of "claiming" as we have seen here.

This is not the work of al Qaeda they are far too quickly brought up in any situation like this and that tends to be more than providential for certain governments looking to use the "War on Terror" for their own political ends.

It is more than likely not the work of the IMU who, by many reports, have either been neutered or have chosen not to follow violence as a path to obtain their aims. It is probably no other Islamic extremist group either.

Most likely it is "gangland" and drug related but once again the terrorism angle best suits the political agendas of many people, parties and governments and that is the one that will be publicised regardless.