Re-thinking Stalinist terror in the transformation of post-soviet civil society of Central Asia
Dina Mukhamedkhan (Almaty, Kazakhstan)
All five countries of the former soviet Central Asia share not only historical background of classical period, but also Stalinist terror of the soviet period. Critical study and re-thinking of that period, however, still did not came into the center of public debates and discussions. That problem has to be raised not only on national and regional level, but has to be discussed internationally, because political terror is still a global phenomenon of our times. An open debate could give a real push for transformation of the society in post-soviet period and the process of integration of the region into contemporary international society.
Totalitarian regimes of all times and in all countries use same methods and same measures to suppress critical intelligence, people’s courage to articulate independent thoughts in standing up to authorities. Creation by authorities of false situations of existence of danger inside and outside helps to keep masses of people under strict control and in constant fright as this is here where manipulation of masses by authorities works. We have to develop analytical mind, culture of critical intelligence and courage to defend universally recognized human being’s values. In case we do not pay attention through education to these issues we simply give way to revival of the thinking and the ideas of those who suppressed freedom of thought and creativity of people in any field of life: literature, history, music, education, science. Times can go backwards to terror of the Stalin regime. We have already instances of putting plaques; giving names of streets to people who were embodiment of terrible regime ideology with relevant deeds, from whom many people suffered.
As an educator I am concerned that many projects on citizenship went with little effect. During repression of intelligentsia times many best people perished, many suffered tortures and psychological pressures in Karlag prisons for purely research ideas. Do we know real cases of those people’s lives, their courage? The analysis of the situation in education of humanities in Kazakhstan shows that few educational materials of the kind exist, few related to this time of our history topics are being discussed with students in class. The mission of educators, policy analysts, researchers and educators themselves is to revive this knowledge, to create island of our memory through paying tributes to real citizens who became victims of the regime time for us to live a better life. This situation only hinders the humanistic idea of nurturing free and dignified citizens. We need to speak up, to write real cases devoted to those who did not betray ideas that we are now are proud of. Those who were tortured, suffered but stayed Human being and kept their ideas for us to be proud of by not letting their human dignity go down in front of authorities.
In my presentation I am highlighting the case of Kayum Mukhamedkhanov who did not betray his research ideas; who continued creative work of a man of letters being in Karlag. I also show how this knowledge can be transformed in case analysis and integrated in teaching many humanities.