Were you to dine among the Uzbeks, you would find rich offerings of osh (rice dishes), mutton, tea, and yogurt-based delicacies – foods of early origin from a people with roots in antiquity. Persian nomads were the first ancients in Uzbekistan, now a land-locked country at the heart of Central Asia where culture once flourished from a strategic Silk Road location. Alexander mired and halted here. Centuries later, the Mongols followed, disintegrated, and allowed the rise of Turkic-speaking empires that eventually melded into the Russian empire and then the Soviet Union. Uzbekistan obtained independence in 1991, but most Uzbeks live under the central authoritarian regime where basic human rights are threatened every day. Arbitrary arrests and torture are commonplace and basic civil rights to speak freely, worship, and gather are repressed.
· Today the world holds about 20 million Uzbeks.
· Aggressive cotton-growing practices have devastated the Aral Sea and polluted the soil with pesticides and fertilizers. Over a million are enslaved in the cotton fields.
· As in Afghanistan, southern neighbor to Uzbekistan, the rise of radicalism is a concern
· Pervasive human rights abuses overshadow life
· Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is an endemic problem
What One Person Can Do...
· Advocate for environmental reform to restore Uzbekistan’s arable land for the health of her citizens
· Share the Uzbek story about a land rich in gold, uranium, and natural gas enjoyed by a powerful few at the expense of impoverished millions
· Partner with efforts to address widespread health crises through non-profit agencies like Doctors Without Borders - they have been on the ground in Uzbekistan since 1997