It’s been weeks since the massacre in Andijon, Uzbekistan. Unlike when events were transpiring in Kyrgyzstan (and I was writing two posts a day), I was unable to even vocalize how I was feeling. I felt like I had been kicked in the gut, and that the place I had come to know and love for two years was not real. The place I served in during my time in the Peace Corps was a fantasy Uzbekistan, where people went about their daily lives and were not killed in the streets as if their lives meant nothing.
Even when the Peace Corps decided to leave Uzbekistan (and anyone with any sense knew it was a matter of time after last year’s sit-in to get our visas renewed), I was still speechless. I didn’t really think of the volunteers. Some of them would be happy to leave anyway, and the ones that weren’t would probably be transferred somewhere else (Peace Corps Fiji maybe?) that needed their help too. I was really thinking about my school and my host sister. Everyone who felt a little happier and a little more like their lives were brighter for having Americans around to do strange American things.
How did it all go so pear shaped? How was it that one of the most hospitable places is now suddenly not? I think of the Rose Revolution and the events after that, the credit (or blame) placed on America and American organizations has made all these dictators fear the influence of anything American. Then there’s the very small group of people coming into Uzbekistan who think that it would be another Islamic state if only the secular president could be overthrown. Of course, they never realize that very few Uzbeks follow Islam the way they do. I think of all the people I talked to and taught and I know that most of them will leave the country sooner rather than later. Everything I worked for will go with them and won’t stay in the place I called home but eight months ago.