Central Asia Program - Azerbaijan

Allow me first, to express my deepest gratitude to The George Washington University – Elliott School of International Affairs Central Asia Program (CAP) for its Central Asia – Azerbaijan Fellowship Program. I would like to apply for Central Asia – Azerbaijan Fellowship Program because I want to write about the theme “Transformation of Media in Tajikistan”. I am Akbar Vatanshoev from Tajikistan Dushanbe. Since childhood, I had a deep interest to learn foreign languages, especially English. Evidently, a good grasp of the English language has provided me with opportunities for self-development and employment.

I have graduated in Economy of International Tourism (Diploma of Economist in sphere of Tourism) at Tajik State National University in 2010. In addition, I studied Tradition and Change course, Aga Khan Humanity Program, the University of Central Asia, which helped me to know about pluralism, multiculturalism, critical thinking, etc.

Later I went to India, where I attended Political Science Courses at Pune University. There I learned a lot about politics, human rights, and international relations.

Studying in India helped me a lot to develop my worldview and mindset. I was able to get acquainted with different political thinkers and ideas. The professors were smart and polite. I was especially inspired by attending Professor Santishree D. Pandit’s lectures on International Relations and World Politics. The students expressed their viewpoints openly on different international issues of world politics. Under her guidance, I submitted assignments about Central Asia and Tajikistan, which helped me to pass the exams and get good scores. In addition, I was greatly influenced by Dr.

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Mangesh Kulkarni, who taught the subjects of Political Theory and Human Rights. He was very precise in his explanations of every political and theoretical concept.

These explanations helped me better understand both the theory and its practical implications. From the Political science and Public administration department, I had twelve days of internship in National Centre for Advocacy Studies. This Advocacy centre advocates the rights of marginalized people. For example, farmers in remote villages need help with local government and this centre advocates the farmers’ rights to the government. Upon return to Tajikistan, I began to work in different international organizations as a translator, program assistant, and community mobilizer. Taking into consideration my educational and professional background, I decided to write about the situation of Mass Media in Central Asia, specifically Tajikistan, and the country where I am from. Because the situation with Mass Media in Tajikistan is very instable.

There are lots of human rights violation and restrictions on freedom of expression toward journalists, political activists and freedom – thinkers. The authoritarian system intensified in 2015 with the current ruling government completely suppressing any opposition increasing since 2017. The regime acts like a one-part system and there little chances to challenge the status quo. The dominant government has reinforced their power, notably through the amendments made into the constitution in 2016 that made the current president “Leader of the Nation” and successfully guarantying him unlimited power and authority. Meanwhile, the government has banned opposition groups, jailed human rights lawyers, censored the media, and increasingly regulated civil society. Tajikistan is a nepotocracy as the major sectors of economy and politics are ruled by the members of the presidents’ family.

Corruption is rife. Control of state agencies allows businesses under the authority of the presidential family to avoid following regulations, or paying. Corruption is widespread in the country as the elite group avoid paying taxes and tariffs or obey to any laws. Those who challenge the presidential family face severe repercussions. While the ruling family has consolidated its position, it has continued to crack down on dissent. Civil society continued to come under pressure from the government in 2017. Following amendments to the Law on Public Associations in 2015, all nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) must report funding from foreign donors to the Ministry of Justice. In May, the president signed amendments to the Law on the Fight against Corruption, stipulating that public associations need to report risks of corruption within their organization to the State Agency for Financial Control and Combating Corruption.

Frequent inspections by the tax committee, fire department, anticorruption agency, and other bodies hamper the work of civil society organizations. Tajikistan’s government continues to severely curtail freedom of information. While the constitution, Law on Access to Information, Law on Television and Broadcasting, and Law on Periodical Print and Other Mass Media grant freedom of expression, and prohibit censorship and state interference with the media, in reality, the state tightly regulates independent media. Article 137 of the Criminal Code prohibits “slandering” the president, and Article 330 prevents journalists from insulting other officials. Most journalists practice self-censorship, and many of the most critical outlets are now based overseas.

Journalists who write critical stories are likely to receive threats from the intelligence services, or face libel charges or even arrest. In 2016, the National Association of Independent Media recorded 160 complaints or comments about situations involving free speech and independent media. Considering this turbulent situation, which directly influences Mass Media in Tajikistan, I find this program very relevant. Through this program, I will be able to enhance my research and analytical skills and seek to become public policy leader in my own country. Moreover, the program will provide a platform for the exchange of ideas and build lasting intellectual networks among the Central Asian, Azerbaijani, and U.S. scholarly and policy communities.

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Central Asia Program - Azerbaijan. (2023, Jan 10). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/central-asia-program-azerbaijan/

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