For the first time since the end of Soviet rule in Central Asia, the Basmachi movement is being honored by the erection of a monument in one of its former strongholds. The Basmachi fought a guerrilla war against the imposition of Soviet rule in Central Asia during the early 1920s and against forced collectivization during the early 1930s. They were a loose coalition of Islamic, secular nationalist and pan-Turkic groups, operating in the Ferghana Valley and in southern parts of Central Asia, and using supply bases in Afghanistan.
A committee made up of scholars, civic leaders and descendants of Basmachi militants is about to begin the construction of a monument to the Basmachi in Osh, the center of an Uzbek-inhabited region in Kyrgyzstan. The design of the sculptural composition represents a group of Basmachi leaders and bears the inscription, “to the victims of the red terror.” Incongruously, a monument to the early executor of that terror, Feliks Dzerzhinsky, continues to disgrace the city of Osh (Russian agencies, January 11).
In Turkmenistan today, the country’s government marks Remembrance Day, in honor of those killed by Russian troops in 1880 at the Geok-Tepe fortress (Itar-Tass, January 12). That battle climaxed and ended the Turkmen tribes’ resistance to incorporation in the Russian Empire–a struggle renewed later under different circumstances by the Basmachi.