The sweeping protests in Iran following the 2009 elections have
often been described as a Twitter revolution. The social networking
service allowed protesters to organize in mass numbers on the fly
without having to worry about Iran's notorious Internet censorship. With Kyrgyzstan now plunged into chaos
by protesters, who may
have succeeded in ousting the president, will Kyrgyzstan also be called a Twitter revolution? Sarah Kendzior
, writing at the must-read Central Asia news site Registan, has "little doubt" it will be called that. But she's "skeptical" that the term is accurate. To understand what's happening, she says, we should keep records instead of leaping to apply labels:
The information coming out of
Kyrgyzstan is not always reliable. It is often biased, short-sighted,
confusing and contradictory. But it is giving us a view of Kyrgyzstan
that demands our attention — not only now, but in the months and years
to come, when we look back on these events and try to piece together
what happened. Unlike with the Andijon events, we might actually be able
to do so. But in order for that to happen, we need to create a record
of these materials. We need to preserve them before they are wiped away —
not necessarily by the Kyrgyz government, but by the true foes of
revolution: apathy and neglect. Many of the Uzbek materials that I
archived are gone simply because those tending to them let them go. The
massacre became a memory, hopelessly unresolved. This is one of the
reasons that “Do not forget the Andijon massacre!” has become a rallying
cry of Uzbekistan’s political opposition. As the world’s interest in
Kyrgyzstan fades — and, believe me, it will — so too will the desire to
preserve the narrative of the events.
Kendzior recounts the 2005
"massacre" in Andjion, Uzbekistan, when first-hand bloggers allowed the outside world a rare glimpse
inside, as Twitter did in Iran 2009. But those Internet accounts disappeared with time, deleted or
forgotten. Will the same thing happen with Kyrgyzstan?
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mfisher at theatlantic dot com.
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