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Central Asia: Anti-Democrats Are Getting It Together

There is an interesting piece posted recently on Foreign Policy’s website that highlights how authoritarian-minded leaders in Eurasia are becoming adept at leveraging thuggish behavior.

The article, titled “The League of Authoritarian Gentlemen,” is written by Alex Cooley, a Central Asia specialist at Columbia University. It examines the ways in which Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan have used the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) to stifle dissent.

As Cooley, author of Great Games, Local Rules: The New Greater Power Contest in Central Asia and an occasional contributor to EurasiaNet.org, tells it: “They've [SCO members] been working hard to forge an international front of anti-democrats, developing a new set of counter-strategies and regional legal tools. It seems to be working.”

SCO members, as Cooley shows, have persistently used the excuse of fighting “terrorism, extremism, and separatism” to extradite and even engage in the outright kidnapping of groups and individuals deemed “extremists” by their home countries. In this way, in 2010, Kazakhstan returned 29 political refugees who fled Uzbekistan after the Andijan massacre to their home country. That action constituted a violation of Astana’s obligation to shelter asylum seekers from being returned where “the risk of torture exists in the receiving state,” according the UN Committee Against Torture.

Counter-acting the anti-democrats will not be easy, Cooley indicates: “Confronting Eurasia’s new authoritarian architecture will require both Washington and Brussels to challenge the legality and purpose of these authoritarian practices.”

Central Asia: Anti-Democrats Are Getting It Together

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