The Wall Did Not Fall For Everyone

by craig on November 12, 2009 1:23 pm in Uzbekistan

I have been watching the various celebrations of the fall of the Berlin Wall from the unusual vantage point of Accra. I have no mixed feelings over the fall of Soviet communist control over Europe. I don’t think Reagan’s use of the phrase “Evil empire” was wrong. The Americans have of course embarked on a new enthusiasm for their own evil empire since.

The euphoria of the spread of freedom seemwd to usher in an era of hope when I was 30. I still recall the images of the people on top of the Berlin wall, of Mandela’s walk from jail, and of the puzzled look on the face of Ceaucescu as he realised the crowd was booing him. It was a time to lift the heart.

But having worked in Poland’s transition from Communism in the mid 1990’s, I also know that much of Eastern Europe “lost” a generation of then middle aged workers who could not adjust from the communist system, and there was terrible economic hardship alongside the yuppie glitz. Life expectancy plummeted. It is not for nothing that Walesa and Gorbachev, who were the star guests in Berlin now, plunged to depths of political unpopularity in their own countries that make Gordon Brown seem adored.

But my main thought is that people must realise that the wall did not come down for everybody. Uzbekistan is still a totalitarian state and still does indeed lock its people in. Uzbeks still need an exit visa to leave – and only three weeks ago I was contacted over the most recent case of an Uzbek resident in the UK, who had been arrested travelling in Russia and deported back to Tashkent because they had no valid Uzbek exit visa.

Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and even the Ukraine have all with increasing frequency been deporting Uzbeks – who were legally in those countries – back to Tashkent, very often because their Uzbek exit visas expired, or because they were political dissidents wanted by the Uzbek authorities.

The original evil empire is not quite dead yet. The wall did not fall for everybody.

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7 Comments

  1. All the more reason for us to insist in this country on our right to have and articulate opinions that differ with our government’s, to demonstrate without having our civil entitlements jeopardised and on our M.P.s being paid to represent us in parliament, not the political parties to whom they have sold their souls.

    I cannot see how we can help other countries unless we have a proper system ourselves.

  2. It is horrifying that Uzbek defectors who travel within the former USSR can be deported back to Uzbekistan. It is comparable to China deporting repatriating refugees from North Korea. Evidently refugees from Uzbekistan won’t be safe till they reach Western Europe and become full citizens.

  3. Interesting that last night’s episode of Spooks was about Britain running out of gas and having to import it from the nasty fictional Tazbekstan, “who boil people alive”.

    As usual all the moral issues of this predicament were explored from the perspective of the different characters.

    But I wonder, if it isn’t rather more straightforward in reality and those in power just don’t give a stuff?

    It’s a pity you couldn’t write a review of the programme, exploring these moral dilemmas and whether there’s any soul searching at all.

    Are these moral dilemmas as totally fictional as the portrayal of the job roles of characters themselves?

  4. Indeed, not all walls have come down. One very big one around Israel springs to mind. A bunch of new prisons have been built, particularly in America, keeping about 1% of their population inside a wall. A large part of Baghdad is now sealed off with a monstrous wall. Communities that used to live, work, and intermarry with each other around Iraq now find themselves walled off and isolated. We have more ‘gated communities’ both in the US & the UK to a lessor extent. Then there is the ‘great firewall of China’, which the definitely not evil people from Google have provided, so Chinese citizens are untroubled with any reference to Tiananmen Square, and a search for “democracy” will return zero hits.

    There are walls of road-blocks and armed police at every airport and government building of any note, and a wall of silence from our representatives in government concerning our eroding liberties.

  5. Yes Craig, the Wall didn’t come down for everybody — and it didn’t come down in the UK either where there is a double standard in human rights. We have a glass ceiling above which our press and our human rights industry are scared to go. A couple of comments were published recently in the mainstream press that show the extent to which our freedom has been eroded. They are:

    http://russell46.livejournal.com/

    As I mentioned to John Leech MP, when they fired shots at my son, to pressure my wife and self, his witness was a German citizen. Born in the former East Germany she had had to come to the UK to witness a Stasi-style secret police operation courtesy of MI5/6. At some point we too will experience freedom, but not I think until there is constitutional change. Roderick Russell

  6. One very big wall has been built since the fall of the one in Berlin. It has been built in Palestine and in spite of the rhetoric, is daily blessed by the West with gold and swords.

    Blow up all walls!! Send ‘em crashing to the ground!

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