Uzbek opposition movement to hold another peaceful “white” campaign

Saidjahon Zaynabitdinov won the September photo competition
A new Mass Joy campaign (Ommaviy Shodlik, the initials of which, OSH, in Uzbek also mean the holiday dish pilaf), timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Uzbekistan’s constitution, will be held between 1 and 10 December in the country.

“The purpose of the next OSH marathon is to draw the population’s attention to the constitution, to advocate objectives of the country’s basic law,” the leader of the Birdamlik opposition movement in Uzbekistan, Malohat Eshankulova, has said.

In her opinion, the ignorance of the constitution leads to numerous human rights violations and suppression of citizen’s rights in the country.

“Every citizen of the Republic of Uzbekistan must know the constitution and observe every law in order not to fear to demand their rights from officials, local authorities and law-enforcement bodies,” Eshankulova said.

How to take part in OSH?

Every Uzbek citizen aged between seven and older can take part in the OSH action, according to a statement by Birdamlik.

The action is peaceful, so participants are only required to wear a white headwear or a scarf between 1 and 10 December.

“White colour is a symbol of opposition to darkness and oppression, therefore we urge people to fight against dictatorship by wearing white clothes,” Eshankulova said.

The action provides for a photo competition. Under its terms, citizens should have their own or collective pictures taken wearing a white headwear or a scarf and send pictures to the jury via the Internet.

The deadline for submitting pictures is 15 December. Collective pictures taken against the background of administrative buildings or a square in front of the Alay market in Tashkent will have the best chance to win.

In the Alay market

On this square on 8 December, when Uzbekistan marks the Constitution Day, Birdamlik plans to hold another action at 12 o’clock in the afternoon. This is a quiz game called “Do you know your constitution?”

Organisers have not yet announced what prizes will be given to the photo competition winners and the quiz game, but promised “considerable money prizes and other expensive presents”.

On 8 December, Birdamlik also plans to distribute copies of the constitution of Uzbekistan free of charge.

The previous OSH action was held in Uzbekistan between 1 and 10 September this year, participants of which were asked to wear white clothes in token of solidarity and unity and to send their pictures to a photo competition.

Then the main prize went to Andijan-based human rights activist and former political prisoner Saidjahon Zaynabitdinov, who spent 10 days travelling through his city on a bike, wearing white clothes and carrying a bag that read OSH.

The campaign White Hopes was launched by Birdamlik leader Bahodyr Choriyev five years ago, on 8 March 2007, when he planned to assemble 500 people for a rally outside the Palace of Textile Workers in Tashkent.

Choriyev and his comrades-in-arms promote solely peaceful and non-violent methods of struggle and believe that only the country’s conscientious population will manage to get rid of oppression and create worthy living conditions for themselves.