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Award of Excellence
William Daniels
Panos Pictures

"Faded Tulips"


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Award of Excellence
William Daniels
Panos Pictures


"Faded Tulips"

The 2005 Tulip Revolution brought hope of more democracy and justices to Kyrgyzstan. Motivated mostly by social injustices, the Kyrgyz people overthrew the authoritarian and corrupted regime of President Askar Akayev and elected in his place Kurmanbek Bakiyev, an opposition leader and former prime minister. The international community broadly welcomed the uprising. Four years later, hope is fading. Inequalities and poverty are still strongly part of the Kyrgyz daily life and democracy seems to be regressing. Elections are rigged, Bakiyev's opponents are arrested while some 15 others have sought political asylum abroad since 2005 and parts of the media are censored. The economic situation is dire: 40% of the population live below the poverty line and the country is one of the most indebted in the world. Nearly half of the population say that they regret the passing of the communist era. In July 2009, Bakiyev was re-elected with 78% of the vote. Local and international monitors reported that the contest was marred by widespread irregularities and the misuse of administrative resources. The president has played a skilful balancing act between Russia and the United States, both of which have military bases in Kyrgyzstan. The US base, used as a supply hub for the war in Afghanistan, was supposed to be closed in 2009 but Bakiyev allowed the Americans to stay in exchange for a tripling of the rent. Observers speculated that the move had also encouraged the US government to muzzle its public criticism of the Kyrgyz regime. The revolution, it seems, is dead.

During the soviet era, most of the electric bulbs of the USSR where made in Maliuu Suu factory, south of Kyrgyzstan, which was the biggest in all USSR and one of the pride of the country. Today, only one third of the factory is still working and many workers haven't been paid for months.

 

 

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