Jahangir Mamatov

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Jahangir Mamatov is a senior linguist, author, journalist and a well known political analyst of Central Asian issues.

During the Soviet era[edit]

Mamatov was born on September 1, 1955, in Samarkand Province,[1] married in 1980, and has four children. He was educated in Samarkand, and at the Department of Journalism of Tashkent State University [2] from 1973–1979, pursuing research on ethics in journalism and linguistics until 1981. He started his journalistic career with the Toshkent Haqiqati newspaper in 1973, and from 1974–1979 with the Qishloq haqiqati newspaper.

He worked as an editor at the State TV-Radio Company from 1980-1981. Then he worked for the Lenin Yoli newspaper in Samarkand province from 1982-1985.

From 1985–1990 he worked as a correspondent of O’zbekiston Ovozi in Samarkand province, and for Mushtum satirical magazine and the Qishloq Haqiqati newspaper. During these years more than a thousand of his satirical, critical, and analytical articles were published. Some of his articles were published in the Youth reference book, Pure Dawn, and 525 days that Shook Samarkand books.

In 1990, at the age of 35, Mamatov received the title of "Honored Journalist of Uzbekistan". In the same year he was elected from the Jomboy electoral district to the Uzbek Supreme Soviet (parliament), serving as a high rank official on its Glasnost Committee until 1993. He wrote Press Law and founded the newspaper Xalq So’zi, the main publication of the Uzbek Parliament.

Uzbek independence[edit]

On June 20, 1990, the Supreme Soviet issued Uzbekistan's Declaration of Independence. Mamatov was one of the authors of this historic document.

Mamatov organized an investigative group in the parliament regarding violence in Bekobod, Boka, Parkent and concluded that those incidents were masterminded by the Uzbek government. He reported evidence that the KGB stood behind the terror acts among the ethnic Uzbeks and Meskhet Turks in the Parkent district of Tashkent province. After those events Mamatov was pursued by the Uzbek government. The central Committee of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan accused Mamatov of criticizing the Chairman of the Party, Islam Karimov, and the chief justice of the Supreme Court on his TV program asked the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet for permission to arrest him, but the attempt was rejected for lack of parliamentary support.

On August 17, 1991, as his protest against the 1991 Soviet coup d'état attempt|attempted coup in Moscow aimed at opposing Mikhail; Gorbachev|Gorbachev's reform program and the Union of Sovereign States|new union treaty that he decentralised power to the republics, Mamatov went to demonstrate with some of his colleagues in front of the Parliament building and publicly burned his Party member certificate. He later stood for election as chairman of the Uzbek Journalists Association, and claimed that the government falsified the election results.

The Glasnost Committee in the Uzbek Parliament was eventually shut down by President Islam Karimov and his suuporters; once Mamatov resigned, the committee was re-instated.

In 1991 in the 7th session of the Uzbek Parliament, Mamatov along with his fellow-deputies, put forward measures before the Parliament to limit Karimov’s attempts to absolute dictatorship. Under pressure from democratic deputies, the Uzbek government had to permit the organization of a committee, regulating the relations between the President of Uzbekistan and the Parliament. Mamatov became the Presidential Advisor for Parliamentary Relations in that committee, and subsequently was appointed as a Chief of Uzbek State Television-Deputy of the State Radio and Television Committee.

In opposition[edit]

However, as a result of the Karimov administration’s attacks on human rights and on democracy in the country, in 1992 after the bloody events in Tashkent city’s Student Town, Mamatov felt compelled to resign his position in protest. Before his resignation from his position Mamatov declared that dictatorship was reigning in Uzbekistan. It was the first historical event in which a high government official declared his resignation as a sign of protest to Karimov.

Mamatov continued to lead a group of opposition representatives in the Uzbek parliament, who strongly and openly criticized the emerging dictatorship under Karimov's rule, and who persisted in fighting for democracy. Mamatov quickly emerged among the most prominent critics of Karimov regime’s state policy. Mamatov was one of the organizer's of the March 28, 1992, Uzbek Democratic Coalition Forum that took place in the building of the Erk/Freedom Democratic Party.

After that, Mamatov led the non-government Turon a language research organization. Even though, this organization could be shut down only by a decision of the Supreme Court, the Ministry of Justice, violating the law, stopped the function of the Turon organization. The belongings of the organization were confiscated.

Jahangir Mamatov wrote the book Games of Palace about Karimov’s actions. Even though the government confiscated the manuscript of the book, the copies became very popular and it was published in the newspaper of ERK Democratic Party in 1994.

On February 7, 1993 the Uzbek government banned the newspaper Erk (Freedom), which was affiliated with the ERK Democratic party, the main party of the democratic political opposition in the country. At that time, Mamatov was a chief editor of the paper, and also deputy chairman of the ERK Democratic Party itself.

On February 13, 1993, the Uzbek government, using the police, forcibly evicted Mamatov and his family from their house in Tashkent, and the house was seized by the government and he was forced to move to his hometown Samarkand. He was charged with criticizing President Karimov in the parliament for his dictatorial behavior.

On April 17, 1993 Mamatov was arrested in Samarkand by Uzbek authorities.

In exile[edit]

With the help of supporters Mamatov was able to escape Uzbekistan. His wife, the mother of four children, was put under pressure to divorce him but refused to do so, and was convicted and sentenced for two years.

After securing his family's exit from Uzbekistan, Mamatov moved to Turkey. From 1994–1998 he worked in Koch University in Istanbul, as a correspondent of the BBC Uzbek Service, and as a columnist for the newspaper Turkiye. While living abroad he wrote his book Quvg’in ("Exile", trilogy), which was critical of the tyrant regime in Uzbekistan.

The Uzbek government sent secret agents three times to eliminate Mamatov, this led to Mamatov being granted political asylum from the United States through the UN in February 1998.

Mamatov resumed his career as a journalist in the Voice of America|VOA Uzbek Service, USA from 1999-2004. Due to his critical reports the Uzbek government ordered the arrest of Mamatov’s relatives and his sisters. With pressure by US Congress, US Government, and International Human Rights Organizations, Mamatov's relatives were released.

In 2005 Mamatov brought together leaders of the Uzbek democratic opposition who had been unable to effectively coordinate their activities over the past 15 years. A Congress of Democratic Uzbekistan (CDU), open to all opposition groups and individuals, convened on September 25, 2005, of which Mamatov was the Chairman until 2011.

Mamatov also taught Uzbek in language schools and since 2001 has been working as a senior linguist at the Language Research Center (LRC).


Jahangir Mamatov is the author of nearly 40 books. Many of his books were published in the United States, Turkey and Azerbaijan, yet his books are strictly forbidden in his homeland Uzbekistan. He is the author of six linguistic books which were all published in the United States.

He has been publishing his personal website, jahonnoma.com and the CDU website turonzamin.org since 2001.


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