Flying the Kazakh standards

From the Editor-in-chief:We are publishing an excerpt from the book "Kazakhstan: A Chronicle of Three Millennia" by S.G. Klyashtorny and T.I. Sultanov (pp. 341-343). In doing this, my objective is to remind those who have read the book, and to show those who have not, about the spirit of this monumental work on Kazakhstan's history. But why now? Tursun Sultanov, the Chair of the Central Asia, Caucasus, and Oriental faculty of the St. Petersburg University and co-author of the book urgently needs a heart operation. Over the last decade Tursun Sultanov has survived two major heart attacks.On April 21 I asked readers of the newspaper to help and I am proud to be able to say that some money for Professor Sultanov has already been sent. I will keep readers updated over future editions. For those wanting to make a contribution, here are Tursun Sultanov's bank details (the account was opened specially on April 22nd):I remember that, when I was editing and preparing the book to be published, I read this extract for the first time. What struck me then was: how is it that the Kazakhs haven't had their own banner since that time?T.S.'s answer was simply: "We can't help it, sources say so."But isn't there reason to be glad? Almost 10 years on, Kazakhstanis are open-heartedly helping Professor Sultanov, and I my reply to T.S. is that "No, the banner was not lost."We shall see.For the time being here are some exerts from the history of all of our land.Tursun Sultanov (From the book "Kazakhstan: A Chronicle of Three Millennia")An indispensable part of the nomads' military equipment were their war standards (tug, bunchuk). The standards performed at least two functions: they were an important sacred symbol and they were an efficient way to manage the army both when marching and in battle. Every tribe, ulus Sultan, and of course, every Khan, had its own standard. According to tradition, each Khan could have not more than nine standards. When people spoke of a "Khan with nine standards" (toguz togluk khan) they meant a powerful ruler. According to medieval chronicles, the first Kazakh rulers were "Khans with nine standards." The standard was not only an illustration of power, but it also symbolised military valour and the honour of both a commander and the army. The main standard, being a national relic, was kept away during peacetime and was taken out only for war. During campaigns one of the sultans or influential byis was usually appointed as custodian of the standard. This meant the highest rank in the army, after the supreme commander, with a special troop guarding the standard. During battle the enemy's standards were considered valuable prizes. The death of the standard bearer (tugchi) always greatly worried warriors, while the fall or disappearance of the main standard meant defeat for the army.The work "The sea of mysteries of high features of virtuous people" by the Central Asian historian of the 17th century, Mahmud ibn-Vali, contains a very relevant story, about the Kazakhs' battle standard. This story is interesting in many aspects, and hence we have published it in full. "While Abd ar-Rashid* (1533-1560) was ruler of Yarkend, he appointed his sons to govern different regions of the state. It was then that Abd al-Latif, the new Sultan of Aksu made a raid on the Kazakhs, Kyrgyzs and Kalmaks. He destroyed all of the property of these tribes in a wave of plundering and embezzlement. As this treatment had neared the limits of excessiveness, the Kazakhs and Kyrgyzs united, and when sultan Abd al-Latif had repelled their united forces for the fifth time, and was returning home, they, along with the kazakh sultan of Buidash, gave chase. Having caught up with him, they pounced upon Abd al-Latif and only after he had killed a number of his attackers, did he himself die from an arrow wound, taking his cause with him to the grave. When this deplorable news reached Abd ar-Rashid-khan: His mood became so painfullyAlarming,As if: "Spring of life had been trampled on."He ordered the army to take to the field, As fate needed bloodshed�Abd ar-Rashid-khan moved so fast that the sultan of Buidash was still within the limits of Issyk-Kul when the advanced detachment of the Khan's army met the sultan's rear guard. As the sultan of Buidash was in no position to take on the Yarkend army, he was forced to flee his new territory and take to the valley to escape. The Khan ordered his famous emirs to pursue the Buidash army, and he himself pursued the sultan. After twenty days of rash chase (the Kazakhs and Kyrgyzs were at this point unable to even pause to rest) the army was caught in the Kilma-Kadjura territory. Forced to rest, the Kazakhs and Kyrgyzs had to stop. The enemies met in battle.The flames of resentment rose so high that they scorched almost all of the evildoers in battle. Later that day nine Kazakh standards appeared in the hands of the Yarkend army. The sultan of Buidash fled in disgrace, along with scant remains of his army, surviving only thanks to speed of their horses. The Kazakh tradition of raising the bunchuk and elevating the standard ceased from that day on. Even today they are peculiar in that they have no standard and that they continue to form their army without any standard." * The ruler of Mogulstan, the ulus (territory) given to descendants of Chagatai, the second son of Genghis-khan. The Chagatai's estates stretched from the southern Altai to the Amudarya and included Eastern Turkistan, most of Semirechiye and Maverannahr (i.e. the country between Syr-Darya and Amu-Darya rivers). 

Press Freedom Under Attack From �Defenders� Analysis From Washington

By Paul Goble Washington, 21 Apr(RFE/RL)

Press freedom is so widely recognized as a universal human right that even those authoritarian leaders who seek to subvert it in practice feel compelled to defend it in principle. That pattern, repeated in two otherwise very different countries this week, simultaneously allows these leaders to exercise control in the short term but creates the conditions for radical change in the future. In Iran, the country's parliament earlier this week approved a press law banning any criticism of the constitution, extending responsibility for publication from publishers to writers, and allowing hardline revolutionary courts to prosecute journalists. Then on Wednesday, Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told an audience of 100,000 at Tehran's Grand Mosque that pro-reform press outlets have become "the bases of the enemy" within Iran, serving the interests of "U.S., British, and Zionist media" rather than of the Iranian people and its revolution. Indeed, he added, some 10 or 15 of the papers appear to be "controlled from a single center" abroad. A week earlier, Khamenei suggested that the use of "Islamic violence" against such enemies of the state was entirely legitimate. But this week, Khamenei felt compelled to add that "I am not against press freedom" � even though the new laws and the measures he personally has advocated have the effect of undercutting any possibility of its realization. Then, on Thursday, Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev made statements paralleling those of Ayatollah Khamenie. On the one hand, he said his government would increase its control of the press in order to crack down on media "provocateurs" who he claimed are "working against Kazakhstan" and seeking "to sabotage it and its relations with neighboring countries." In remarks before a conference on fighting crime and corruption that was televised across Kazakhstan, Nazarbaev said that the state security apparatus had adopted an overly liberal attitude to the media in the past and that he expected the authorities to adopt a much tougher line in the future. But like his Iranian counterpart, Nazarbaev concluded that "I have always defended freedom of the press and will continue to do so." What makes these two pairs of comment so striking is their timing. Khamenei's remarks come following the victory of reformers in the Iranian parliamentary vote. Nazarbaev's came only a day after U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright departed from Central Asia where she had called for greater democratization and openness throughout the region. But the remarks of these two leaders have three broader implications not only for these two countries but for all who seek to suppress freedom of the press First, their comments underscore the power of the press to affect elite opinion even in countries whose governments seem to be unresponsive. In both these countries, the government already exercises almost total control over the electronic media. But key elites read newspapers and consequently these regimes are increasingly agitated by the messages these uncontrolled outlets are carrying. Such authoritarian regimes appear to be especially concerned because these governments are fighting what even their leaders see is a losing battle to control access to information. Indeed, on the very day that Khamenei made his remarks, another part of the Iranian government announced plans to broaden opportunities Iranians will have to go online on the Internet. Second, the remarks of Khamenei and Nazarbaev highlight the power of press freedom as an idea that no leader can attack openly even if he or she tries to undermine it at home. Until recently, many authoritarian rulers simply suppressed the media without feeling the need to deny what they were doing. Now, in deference to international public opinion and the attitudes of their own people, ever more of them try to justify what they are doing on other grounds and maintain their image as defenders of press freedom. But such defense has the effect of setting the agenda for their opponents, allowing them to raise the banner of freedom for something that the rulers say they actually respect. The contrast between what these leaders do and what they say is thereby transformed into a crisis of political authority, precisely the thing that such leaders are trying to avoid. And third, and particularly in countries like Iran and Kazakhstan, this combination of suppression and respect drives the discussion of key issues underground. That entails a variety of more serious consequences both for these governments and for their international supporters. Not only does it limit the ability of the governors to know what is going on in the minds of their citizens, but it creates conditions under which the future is likely to be ever more unstable, just the opposite of what these leaders and their defenders intend.

All Over the Globe is published by IPA House.
© 1998 IPA House. All Rights Reserved.