Blogger Miraziz Bazarov has become the topic of heated discussions in Uzbekistan in recent days. International organizations are siding with him. But should they not consider the other side of the coin as well – that he deliberately ignited this hatred against himself by insulting Uzbek women? Shouldn’t his speeches on social networks be considered as a deliberate act aimed at inciting strife among the population? Should he not be held accountable before the law?
Bazarov was beaten by unknown individuals near his house in the evening after a brawl occurred in front of the Amir Temur Square in Tashkent on March 28. He is currently hospitalized with bodily injuries. On this fact, a criminal case has been initiated under Article 105-2, Paragraph “I” of the Criminal Code (intentional infliction of moderate bodily harm).
Following the incident, international organizations, not knowing the whole picture, viewed the blogger as a victim and issued statements alleging that he had been persecuted for exercising his right to freedom of expression.
But was he actually attacked just because he was a supporter of LGBT rights? Or did he deliberately incite people to commit such an act? It can be assumed that he did it on purpose, he insulted people – the whole society – and played with their feelings.
A chronology of events related to his activities in the social network is presented below.
Miraziz Bazarov has been actively promoting LGBT rights on the Internet since 2020. In the past, neither the government nor Uzbek social network users paid much attention to it. He became known only after his last provocative speeches and was hated by many.
Bazarov said on March 5, 2021, that he fully supports the article published by ILGA-Europe on the decriminalization of homosexuality in Uzbekistan. At the same time, on Instagram, he tagged well-known bloggers on social and religious topics, and also posted a false post claiming that these bloggers also support his ideas about LGBT. As a result, a conflict situation arose between the parties.
On his TikTok page on March 11, he called on LGBT rights activists to gather every Friday in Tashkent’s Khastimom Complex. “LGBTs should refrain from coming, people may beat you there, they may kill you – others, who support the basic rights of LGBT people, should come to Khastimom tomorrow and every Friday,” he said.
His next seriously provocative speech appeared on March 20. He said that he would run for the presidency of Uzbekistan and that if was elected, there would be “swing mahallas” in the country, that is, men will share their wives with other men and pave the way for same-sex relationships. As he noted, the reason for this is that Muslim women, especially Uzbek women, are constantly betraying their husbands, having an affair with other men.
Moreover, he gathered Anime and K-pop fans, mostly teenagers, on Amir Temur Square in early March. During the coverage of the process, two teenage girls were also shown kissing. As a result, the public perceived that this was an LGBT party as well.
His remarks have angered social media users, including bloggers and public activists. Posts in the spirit of hatred for his speeches, calls for him to be punished have increased.
Apparently, Bazarov grossly violated a number of legal requirements and insulted the feelings of believers. In this way, these all served to trigger the riots of March 28.
It would be appropriate for international organizations to study the chronology of issues. They should have focused on the blogger’s goals and aggressive actions and have evaluated accordingly.
Flagging freedom of speech and human rights, he insulted other people’s dignity, beliefs, trampled on concepts that were sacred to the majority of the country’s population and made intolerable slanders against Uzbek women. It was natural that his such activities undermine the self-esteem of Uzbek men. As a result, lynching was organized against him.
Both the illegal rally and the lynching case have been condemned by the majority of Uzbek people.
The actions of all offenders, bloggers who committed provocative actions, including Bazarov and those who injured him, will be legally assessed by law enforcement agencies. After all, in Uzbekistan, only the rule of law should be a priority, but not lynching.
At this point, we would like to address to parents: pay attention to the upbringing of your children, do not allow them to participate in various public events whose goals are not noble! Pay attention to what your sons and daughters are doing in their spare time, who they are following on social media. Don’t be indifferent.
It should be recalled that according to Article 156-2 of the Criminal Code of Uzbekistan (incitement to national, racial, ethnic or religious hatred), intentional actions, aimed at inciting hatred, intolerance towards national, racial, ethnic or religious affiliation, insulting national honor and dignity, insulting the feelings of citizens on the basis of religion, are punishable by two to five years of restriction of liberty or up to five years of imprisonment.
According to Article 201 of the Administrative Responsibility Code, violation of the order of holding meetings, rallies, street marches or demonstrations, entails a fine of 60 to 80 BCAs or administrative detention for up to 15 days.
The new draft Criminal Code provides for criminal liability for mental, psychological, physical or other pressure on a person through the use of force, threats, beatings, torture or other unlawful acts for the purpose of arbitrary punishment.
At the same time, such cases in practice are considered under Article 277 of the Criminal Code (Hooliganism) and articles related to intentional bodily harm (Articles 104, 105, 109, etc.).