Galima Bukharbaeva

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Galima Bukharbaeva
Born 1974
Nationality Uzbekistani
Occupation journalist
Organization Institute for War and Peace Reporting
Known for account of Andijan massacre
Awards International Press Freedom Award (2005)

Galima Bukharbaeva (born 7 July 1974, Tashkent) is an Uzbek journalist known for her reporting on state authoritarianism and her eyewitness account of the 2005 Andijan massacre.

Early career[edit]

Bukharbaeva began her career reporting for the France-based Agence France Presse (AFP) and the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR).[1] With these agencies, Bukharbaeva covered topics including repression of Islamic activists, police torture, and state sponsorship of harassment and violence against human rights activists and journalists.[2]

Her stories on these topics proved unwelcome to the Uzbek government, which soon attempted to restrict her ability to report.[1] In 2002, the government refused to renew her accreditation with the IWPR, and in 2003, her AFP accreditation renewal was also refused.[1] She continued to work at the IWPR nonetheless, becoming its country director for Uzbekistan.[3] According to Bukharbaeva, the organization's office remained under surveillance by an unmarked government car throughout most of 2004 and 2005.[1]

Andijan Massacre and aftermath[edit]

Main article: Andijan Massacre

In May 2005, the city of Andijan saw several weeks of protests over the controversial trials of 23 businessmen accused of Islamic extremism.[4] Following weeks of peaceful demonstrations, a group of masked gunmen attacked the jail where the men were being held on the night of 12 May, freeing them as well as protesters who had been arrested the day before.[4] On 13 May, tens of thousands of protesters blockaded the roads, taking control of the city center.[5] A small percentage of them were armed.[3] Bukharbaeva spent the day reporting live from Bobur Square for CNN, BBC News, and other international agencies.[6]

At 1800 local time, security forces massed for an assault, and soldiers began firing on the crowd of protesters from armored personnel carriers.[4] Bukharbaeva later described the massacre in a story for the Committee to Protect Journalists:

Without warning, the soldiers opened fire into the crowd. Bodies fell like mown hay, row upon row. People in the center of the square ran in all directions, but soldiers had blocked off side streets. A helicopter clattered overhead, pointing out those trying to escape to the troops below. I don't know how I escaped. I just ran. "They think we are just dirt," a woman cried to me.[5]

When Bukharbaeva reached safety, she discovered that a bullet had passed through her backpack, leaving a hole in her press card and her Che Guevara notebook.[5]

Bukharbaeva subsequently conducted interviews with other eyewitnesses, who confirmed that soldiers were executing the injured who had been unable to flee the Square.[4] The bodies of women and children were reportedly being removed from public view and concealed by authorities.[4] The following morning, she attempted to return to the square with Reuters correspondent Shamil Baygin.[7] However, they were intercepted by armed men who took them to the local police station.[7] After two hours, Bukharbaeva and Baygin were released with an order to leave the city.[7]

On 25 May, twelve days after the massacre, the government newspaper Pravda Vostoka accused Bukharbaeva and IWPR of instigating the Andijan violence.[7] The article recommended that their pictures be shown on television "to warn citizens against them".[7] Amnesty International subsequently issued an appeal on behalf of Bukharbaeva, Baygin, and numerous other journalists.[7] In September, the government formally charged Bukharbaeva and other journalists who had reported on the massacre with providing "informational support to terrorism".[6]

Exile[edit]

Bukharbaeva then spent some time in Kyrgyzstan, first in a refugee camp[5] and later in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, where she was received as a hero by the opposition community.[8] However, she soon moved on to the US for fear that Uzbek security forces might attempt to kidnap her and return her to Uzbekistan for a show trial.[8] She then received a Fulbright Award to pursue a Master's in journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.[9] While in the US, she also testified before the Helsinki Commission of the US Congress about her experiences on the day of the massacre.[10] In 2008, three years after Andijan, she wrote an editorial in the New York Times accusing Western nations of having already forgotten the massacre by beginning to normalize relations with Uzbekistan.[11]

Bukharbaeva currently works as the editor-in-chief for the Uzbek news website uznews.net.[12] As of 2010, the website had been blocked within Uzbekistan by state authorities for several years.[13] In 2007, she also served as a founder and chairwoman of the Real Union of Journalists of Uzbekistan.[14]

Recognition[edit]

In 2005, Bukharbaeva won the International Press Freedom Award of the Committee to Protect Journalists.[2] The award citation recognized the dangers she faced in her reporting and stated that she had earned "a reputation as one of Central Asia's most outspoken journalists".[2] In 2011, Newsweek recognized her as "one of ten female journalists that risked their lives" in pursuit of a story, stating that "her reporting on Uzbekistan's authoritarianism led to her being denounced as a traitor".[15]

Personal life[edit]

Bukharbaeva is married to a German journalist, Marcus Bensmann, who works for the Swiss daily newspaper Neue Zurcher Zeitung.[8] Bensmann, Bukharbaeva's boyfriend at the time, was also present at the Andijan massacre and was also subsequently labeled a terrorist by the Uzbek government.[8] They currently live in Düsseldorf, Germany.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Central Asia: Journalists Still Face Harassment, Threats". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 28 April 2006. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c "IPFA 2005 - Galima Bukharbaeva". Committee to Protect Journalists. 2005. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Galima Bukharbaeva (13 May 2005). "Eyewitness: Uzbek protests". BBC News. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "How the Andijan killings unfolded". BBC News. 17 May 2005. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c d Galima Bukharbaeva (25 October 2005). "Dangerous Assignments: Witness to a Massacre". Committee to Protect Journalists. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  6. ^ a b Galima Bukharbaeva (21 September 2008). "Uzbekistan: Where journalism is branded terrorism". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f Galima Bukharbaeva (23 June 2005). "Uzbekistan: Human Rights Defenders and Freedom of Expression at risk". Amnesty International. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  8. ^ a b c d Jeff Kingston (23 July 2006). "Convenient Foes: Faces of terrorism". Japan Times. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  9. ^ Gulnoza Saidazimova (23 November 2005). "Uzbekistan: Journalist Honored For Coverage Of Andijon Unrest". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  10. ^ Galima Bukharbaeva. "Testimony :: Galima Bukharbaeva". Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  11. ^ a b Galima Bukharbaeva (May 9, 2008). "Remember Andijan?". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  12. ^ "Uzbek embassy tells police to stop campaign for release of journalists". uznews.net. 11 May 2011. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  13. ^ Felix Corley and Mushfig Bayram (16 March 2010). "Uzbekistan: Internet censorship continues". Forum 18. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  14. ^ "Join the Real Union of Journalists of Uzbekistan!". uznews.net. 30 October 2007. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  15. ^ "Galima Bukharbaeva". Newsweek. 20 February 2011. Retrieved 10 June 2011.