Civil Society In Central Asia by M. Holt Ruffin

By M. Holt Ruffin

What shape will the significant Asian societies of Kazakstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan soak up the twenty first century? This booklet examines vital contemporary advancements within the area as they signify traits towards - or clear of - pluralism and democracy.

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Some human rights observers complained that the government monitored their movements and telephone calls. A presidential commission on human rights was established in Kazakhstan in 1993. 4 However. in the beginning of 1997, this department was liquidated. In Kyrgyzstan" a number of human rights groups operate without governmental restriction" investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. Government officials are generally responsive and sensitive to their views. S The country has faced serious human rights issues in the press area.

Yet a combination of developments, most of them :indigenous to the region but others originating elsewhere, have thrust this topic to the fore. This bas occurred with breathtaking speed, even though the development of civil society :in Central Asia is still at a rudimentary stage. The intensity of this process can be discerned at many levels. Whether one is speaking of the evolv:ing theoretical debate, of national legislation, or of practical developments :in the region's cities, towns, and countryside, the theme of civil society :in Central Asia is no longer avoidable.

The imposed isolation of Soviet rule has ended, and while the nations of the region are still far from being open societies, well integrated into the world community. there are many forces at work which suggest that trends will be in this direction, even for least-reformed Turkmenistan. Islam is clearly making a resurgence in the region and, while it is too early to tell how it will develop further, there appears to be a consensus among those who know the region that some kind of secular Islamic states are more likely to emerge than states controlled by Talibans or Khomeini-like leaders.

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