Die Deutsche Welle hat sich von dem usbekischen Partnerinstitute getrennt. Deren Leiterin Gulnara Babadschanowa hatte in einem Hassfilm gegen Journalisten mitgemacht. Damit wurde sie und ihre Organisation für die Deutsche Welle nach anfänglichem Zögern dann doch untragbar. Sie und ihre Organisation ist von der Webseite der Deutschen Welle verschwunden. Ich hatte über den Skandal auf Ruhrbarone, im NDR und in der Taz berichtet. Gulnara Babadschanowa beschreibt nun auf der regimenahen webseite uzreport.com in Usbekistan ihre Sicht der Dinge. Der Text wurde extra für geneigte Leser außerhalb Usbekistans auch ins Englische übersetzt. The floor is open…
"Shamelessness and lies as life principles
Western periodicals have recently published the materials of a scandalously known journalist, Markus Bensmann. Shortly after the NDR Channel in Germany broadcasted a film produced on his initiative. These materials speak primarily of journalism in Uzbekistan, the activity of the International Centre for the Training of Journalists (ICTJ) of the country and its cooperation with the Deutsche Welle Academy.
Under the cover of high ideals, with great theatrics, the author, in reality, tries to play on the emotions of the audience, while reversing the facts 180 degrees.
Behind all his absurd accusations is blunt commitment and "yellow" thrill, although in his materials he criticizes just this. Making the activity of the Centre subject to criticism, the author intentionally attempts to undermine the reputation of the media institution, and break its relations with Deutsche Welle Academy, with which the Centre has successfully cooperated as a part of educational programs for journalists across Central Asia for nearly 10 years. Among the participants of these courses are many journalists from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, who are always prepared to confirm the efficiency, quality and importance of these trainings intended to develop civil journalism. And now, only at the demand of Mr. Bensmann, all this work should apparently be stopped in light of his deceitful and dirty accusations.
But in spite of this, our Centre continues to successfully cooperate with a number of international organizations, such as the UN Development Program, UNESCO, World Bank, American, German, Swiss non-governmental organizations, etc. All of them provide assistance in educating the students of journalism faculties and improving the qualifications of Uzbek journalists. Of course, the reputations of Mr. Benson’s and our organisation’s are well-known and incomparable, which is why his libelous articles based on made-up facts could be compared to a storm in a glass of water. An old Uzbek saying describes this even better: "A glorious will leave glory, a inglorious will leave a complaint."
As for the facts, I can say that in the letter directed to Deutsche Welle regarding the Uzbek film about the work of the Ð Ð¡Ð• in no way did I move away from the idea of the film, I only disagreed with the terrible violation of some ethical norms. The whole material of the film was indeed based on factual evidence base, with real witnesses. I do not know at what stage of the delivery of my message the content of my response was changed, but never do I diverge from my principles and I do not deny my words.
The film broadcasted by the NDR contained an interview with a woman providing a fake name, Elena. Everything she said regarding me is complete falsification, because I have not ever even had any business with this lady. It is obvious this was a total set up, as in a breath-taking detective story.
Regarding the activity of our media centre, I could quote multiple positive feedbacks provided by our international partners and renown journalists. For instance, here is what a recognized reporter Alo Hojaev said in our talk:
"Every now and then in the publications of some of the western media agencies, and public discussions we hear an opinion that foreign public non-governmental organizations, such as the offices of German Conrad Adenauer and Friedrich Ebert Foundations, should close their operations in Uzbekistan. Their presence in Tashkent and organisation of various joint projects in cooperation with the official authorities, such as scientific-practical conferences, symposiums, seminars, are viewed by the adherents of this strict opinion as mere visual expression of support on the part of the government.
"These Foundations work in the direction of political education of the citizens of many countries of the world, striving to provide assistance in construction of civil society.
"As far as I know, this is exactly what the representative offices of the German Foudnations in Tashkent do, and they have traditionally cooperated with the International Centre for the Training of Journalists. Liquidation of their activity or its absolute politicization will hardly assist the expansion of the society’s awareness and general vision, its ability to engage in public polemics, understand the values and ideas of a civil society. This concerns first of all the young generation, which makes up the majority of the Uzbek population."
Another famous journalist and a media-lawyer Karim Bahtiyor also shared his opinion about the work of the Centre in educating the journalists of Uzbekistan:
"Great mystic of the Orient Gazali wrote: "Yes it is hard. May be with our efforts we will not be able to change the course of things. But when the day comes, we will say: "Nothing has worked out, but when others sat down and sadly complained, we tried to do something. And knowing this we proudly stand in front of you Allah! And we are not ashamed."
"The International Centre for the Training of Journalists does and tries to do a lot of good things for professional and legal education of journalists of Uzbekistan, and not only Uzbekistan but also other countries of Central Asia, including Afghanistan. This organisation has conducted numerous seminars, trainings, roundtable sessions, and other events intended to improve the qualifications of journalists. The Centre has good business relations with non-governmental organizations in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, it cooperates with the National Association of Independent Media of Tajikistan, the Association of Television and Radio Broadcasters of Kazakhstan and other organizations.
A few days ago, the International Centre for the Training of Journalists presented the results of the research on the problems of coverage of gender issues in the media of Uzbekistan, which noted incidents of violation of gender balance in some of the national media outlets. Many useful books have been published with the support of the International centre for the Training of Journalists. Among them were about ten books on Internet journalism, on radio and television journalism, a brochure on "Gender and media" in Russian and Uzbek languages, and many others intended to teach the students of journalism faculties and improve the qualifications of journalists of the country.
"I have read the articles, seen the websites and some of the programs broadcasted by several foreign media criticizing the activity of the Centre and its manager Gulnara Babadjanova. I would like to express my opinion regarding this.
"Of course there are ethical problems in journalism in Uzbekistan. But there are quite as much in journalism in Europe and the United States, particularly in the activity of the Uzbek service of the Radio Freedom. I, personally, was "set up" at least three times when my private phone conversations with the reporters of the radio were broadcasted. I received calls with requests for an interview. Over the telephone I said: "I don’t want to be interviewed… You all have taken off to western countries, and it’s easy for you to speak from there. And I don’t want to go anywhere." I thought this to be a normal explanation. I clearly let them know that I don’t want my expressions to be recorded. I was very surprised when I heard my voice on the radio "Freedom" that night.
"I repeat, I do not share in the opinion of the authors that nothing should be done given all the problems in Uzbek journalism. On contrary, this is where all the work should be done, Uzbek journalism needs educational and civic programs more than anyone else. There is a new generation of young journalists coming up, who need to learn from international experience. This is exactly the field in which the International Centre for the Training of Journalists works.
"The authors’ logic is as follows: "If you give grants to us, it will benefit Uzbekistan. If you give to others – it will be a disgrace." Do not be proud! Be humane. And please do not think that it is not only you that the Uzbek journalism relies on, it will die in Uzbekistan without you. Be a little more modest.
We should thank the International Centre for the Training of Journalists and its leader Gulnara Babadjanova for their efforts, keeping in mind that it’s not easy at all for them to work in Uzbekistan. The authors criticizing the Centre are well-aware of the problems and often write about them.
"I absolutely cannot take the fact that there have been personal attacks at a woman, who puts so much efforts for the benefit of journalism in Uzbekistan. Please value and respect the honour of a woman, because it is her human right, protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Besides, personal attack and personal grudge never look good.
Another known journalist, Yuriy Chernogaev also made some interesting points:
"Uzbek journalists took the "freezing" of the joint projects between the Deutsche Welle Academy and the International Centre for the Training of Journalists through the initiative of Mr. Bensmann with surprise and deepest disappointment. In the past two years the Academy and the Centre carried out five joint projects and trainings which in turn served as a starting point for a series of almost two dozens seminars. The greatest efforts, greatest work. It is particularly important since the participants of the Center’s trainings are real practicing journalists – people who have already tied themselves to this profession.
"Inside the country the Centre has become an excellent link between higher cabinets and the journalists. The Centre is trusted, here everyone speaks openly and on the subject, which is why the trainings provide an opportunity to the invited senators, experts of the Ministry of Justice and representatives of other state bodies to speak, explain their intentions and plans, which when warily announced by the press services are not very clear..
One of the programmes of the Government of Uzbekistan is to build a civil society. What is a civil society and how it should be built – there are at least two viewpoints about this in the country. But everyone agrees that there is a need for free press – professional press, responsible press, otherwise freedom may be understood as "yellow" press. In general, in a developed civil society, where there is a pluralism of opinions, this type of press is rarely paid attention to, but it too, apparently, is needed to complete the "palette."
"All these and many other issues are the subject of regular seminars, trainings, discussions organized at the International Centre for the Training of Journalists. And now within a section the Centre should lose powerful support of a solid European educational institution, the Deutsche Welle Academy? Several programmes are now affected. Let’s leave all the accusations against the Centre aside for a second. They are not the point. What we are talking about here is that the journalists have been deprived of the only opportunity to work together on common problems. And there are no alternatives. It is important to understand that the Centre operates in a specific country, in a specific legal space, in specific historical settings with specific people.
"The opportunity of a dialogue with the Government is very important to us. In Europe, may be, it is not so obvious, because the responsibility of the government to communicate to the nation is a routine thing. The Centre provided the setting for the journalists to talk with the representatives of the organizations "closed" for the general public, and it is probably the only place where they (government representatives) were directly told what the citizens expected from them. Journalism of Uzbekistan is living some hard times today. There is a lack of staff, constant lack of financing. Decreasing public interest. There is an obvious shift of certain concepts. This problem can only be addressed through the projects such as the ones organized by the Centre, here in Uzbekistan, looking the opponent straight into the eyes every day. This is complicated and not everyone wants it. It is easier to work according to the established standard – this is definitely white, and this is the opposite. "Who is not with us is …".
"They say time sets it all straight. But we want justice today. The International Centre for the Training of Journalists has been accused of all sorts of things (what hasn’t it been accused of?!). I get the impression that someone has decided to answer the question of "How to make them all even worse?" in this way."
These are the thoughts evoked in my colleagues by the recent materials published by western journalists. I am very thankful to all those of my colleagues here in Uzbekistan and abroad who have immediately responded to deliberate lies and falsifications provided in these materials. They said everyone knows who is who and what is behind all this. Generally, analyzing the whole chain of recent informational attacks I have formed an opinion that Mr. Bensmann, in his materials, sought several goals. First of all, in the light of the growing competition among western broadcasting stations he tried to "knock off" the Deutsche Welle, which successfully developed cooperation in the field of journalists training in Central Asia, provided assistance jointly with the Institute of Goethe in teaching German language. Secondly, to condemn the situation in the field of media in Uzbekistan and the activity of the International Centre for the Training of Journalists, thereby creating an obstacle in the positively developing German-Uzbek relations in the sphere of culture, and development of media. And thirdly he simply wanted to make money! All these goals have nothing in common with his theatics of a fighter for the freedom of speech.
It is a pity this journalist applies his professional skills not for the direct intended purpose but to find some "fried" facts and use them for his one mercenary purposes. Many representatives of the international organizations in conversations with me said that repeated attacks of Mr. Bensmann’s at them are not even worth responding to, because they know better where and how to invest their money in Uzbekistan, and because they do not see him as a serious, reputed journalist. So I thought I better do the same. And that’s why in the future I will simply ignore all the dirty and fallacious attacks of this pseudo-journalist.
I have formed the same opinion about the Radio Freedom, with which I discussed all these developments for good 30 minutes, and then in the reports I found out that I allegedly refused to be interviewed. That is why in the future I will definitely not provide any comments to the representatives of this station, so as not to spend my time in vain. There is a lot of work ahead, a lot of new projects, and we should use this time to the best effect. And time will set it all straight and everyone in this life will receive what he deserves. As a great philosopher Seneka put it: "Tale, and life are valued not for the length, but for the content."
Director of the International Centre for the Training of Journalists (Tashkent, Uzbekistan)"