Events Calendar

CESS 2019 20th Annual Conference @ Central Asia Program, Elliott School of International Affairs The George Washington University
Oct 10 – Oct 13 all-day
Dangerous Work: A Study of Reprisals Against Environmental Defenders in the Former Soviet Union and the United States @ Voesar Conference Room 412, Elliott School of International Affairs
Oct 17 @ 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Dangerous Work: A Study of Reprisals Against Environmental Defenders in the Former Soviet Union and the United States @ Voesar Conference Room 412, Elliott School of International Affairs

In partnership with Crude Accountability, GW’s Central Asia Program is pleased to host the public launch of:

Dangerous Work: A Study of Reprisals Against Environmental Defenders in the Former Soviet Union and the United States

Crude Accountability, in partnership with the EcoForum of NGOs of Kazakhstan and Fractracker (based in Pittsburgh, PA), is proud to announce the public launch of a publication, Dangerous Work, which reports on reprisals against environmental defenders in the US and in countries of Eurasia. Environmental defenders are under increasing threat around the world, including in the regions highlighted in our report. In 2018, 164 environmental defenders lost their lives around the world; many more suffered harassment, threats, and violence.

Dangerous Work is a compilation of stories of reprisals against environmental defenders, describing the multitude of ways that governments and corporations and their watchdogs retaliate against activists, particularly those working in the extractive sector. It also describes the disturbing trends of increasing threats to environmental defenders in each of the countries highlighted in the report.

Click here to RSVP and for more information about our speakers.

Tajikistan: Barriers to Aid for Domestic Violence Victims @ Voesar Conference Room 412
Oct 24 @ 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM

“Violence with Every Step”: Human Rights Watch Examines Weak State Response to Domestic Violence in Tajikistan

Domestic violence affects at least one out of five women in Tajikistan, taking a devastating toll on the lives of women and girls from all regions and backgrounds. Yet Tajik state authorities are failing to tackle this epidemic of abuse effectively by not providing adequate protection, services, or access to justice for survivors. The new, 93-page report, “‘Violence with Every Step’: Weak State Response to Domestic Violence in Tajikistan,” documents obstacles to help and justice for domestic abuse survivors. Despite laws that guarantee survivors’ rights to protection and social services, Human Rights Watch found ongoing gaps in police and judicial responses to domestic violence, including refusing to investigate complaints, failing to issue or enforce protection orders, and treating domestic violence as a minor offense.

Based on over 80 interviews, including with 55 survivors of domestic abuse, “Violence With Every Step” documents prolonged severe domestic violence, usually perpetrated by husbands or partners, including rape, strangulation, beatings with sharp and heavy objects, being suspended from the ceiling for hours, public humiliation, stabbing, and withholding food and access to the bathroom. Tajikistan adopted a law on the prevention of violence in the family in 2013 and has taken important steps to address domestic violence. But, as this report documents, significant gaps remain in the government’s response to such abuse.

GWU’s CAP invites you to a discussion with Steve Swerdlow, Senior Central Asia researcher and the author of the new report, who will discuss its findings and recommendations for the government of Tajikistan and Tajikistan’s international partners.


About the Author

Steve Swerdlow, esq. is a Senior Central Asia researcher in the Europe and Central Asia division of Human Rights Watch. An attorney with two decades of scholarly and human rights experience researching and advocating on the post-Soviet region, Swerdlow heads Human Rights Watch’s work on Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, was the founding director of HRW’s Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan field office, and has been among the first independent human rights workers to conduct extensive fieldwork on the ground in Uzbekistan since the Uzbek government’s decision to allow human rights organizations back into the country in 2017. Swerdlow was a fellow in the U.S. State Department’s Young Leaders for Public Service program in Russia and worked earlier as a human rights monitor for the Union of Council for Soviet Jews (UCSJ) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Russia. Prior to joining Human Rights Watch, Swerdlow practiced law in San Francisco at Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, and served as a law clerk to the Honorable Judge Dean Pregerson of the United States District Court for the Central District of California. Swerdlow received his J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley (Boalt Hall) School of Law and M.A. in International Affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs with a certificate in Post-Soviet Studies from the Harriman Institute.

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Webs of Corruption: Trafficking and Terrorism in Central Asia @ Voesar Conference Room, Suite 412
Nov 15 @ 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM

With Authors, Mariya Y. Omelicheva and Lawrence P. Markowitz

Counterterrorism experts and policy makers have warned of the peril posed by the links between violent extremism and organized crime, especially the relationship between drug trafficking and terrorism funding. Yet Central Asia, the site of extensive opium trafficking, sees low levels of terrorist violence. Webs of Corruption is an innovative study demonstrating that terrorist and criminal activity intersect more narrowly than is widely believed—and that the state plays the pivotal role in shaping those interconnections.

Mariya Y. Omelicheva and Lawrence P. Markowitz analyze the linkages between the drug trade and terrorism financing in Central Asia, finding that state security services shape the nexus of trafficking and terrorism. While organized crime and terrorism do intersect in parts of the region, profit-driven criminal organizations and politically motivated violent groups come together based on the nature of state involvement. Governments in high-trafficking regions are drawn into illicit economies and forge relationships with a range of nonstate violent actors, such as insurgents, erstwhile regime opponents, and transnational groups. Omelicheva and Markowitz contend that these relationships can mitigate terrorism—by redirecting these actors toward other forms of violence. Offering a groundbreaking combination of quantitative, qualitative, and geographic information systems methods to map trafficking/terrorism connections on the ground, Webs of Corruption provides a meticulously researched, counterintuitive perspective on a potent regional security problem.
Dr. Mariya Y. Omelicheva is a Professor of Strategy at National War College. She holds PhD (2007) in Political Science from Purdue University and JD in International Law (2000) from Moscow National Law Academy. Dr. Omelicheva’s research and teaching interests include international and Eurasian security, counterterrorism and human rights, democracy promotion in the post-Soviet territory, Russia’s foreign and security policy, and terrorism/crime nexus in Eurasia. She has published on these subjects in Terrorism and Political Violence, Europe-Asia Studies, International Journal of Human Rights, Central Asia Survey, Cambridge Review of International Relations, and other journals. She is the author of Counterterrorism Policies in Central Asia (Routledge 2011), which received an Outstanding Academic Title award by Choice, Democracy in Central Asia: Competing Perspectives and Alternate Strategies (University Press of Kentucky 2015), and Webs of Corruption: Trafficking and Terrorism in Central Asia(Columbia University Press, 2019, with Lawrence Markowitz), and editor of Nationalism and Identity Construction in Central Asia: Dimensions, Dynamics, and Directions (Lexington 2015).
Lawrence P. Markowitz is Professor of Political Science at Rowan University and Visiting Associate Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. He specializes in comparative politics with research and teaching interests in state building, authoritarianism, and political violence in post-Soviet Eurasia. In addition to a number of articles and book chapters, Markowitz is the author of two books: State Erosion: Unlootable Resources and Unruly Elites in Central Asia (Cornell University Press, 2013) and (with Mariya Y. Omelicheva) Webs of Corruption: Trafficking and Terrorism in Central Asia (Columbia University Press, 2019).

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The Central Asia-Azerbaijan Fellowship Program’s Seminar: Youth as a Factor of Social Change in Central Asia @ Voesar Conference Room, Suite 412
Nov 19 @ 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM
The Central Asia-Azerbaijan Fellowship Program's Seminar: Youth as a Factor of Social Change in Central Asia @ Voesar Conference Room, Suite 412

The Central Asia Program is proud to announce our CAAFP 2019 Fellows’ Final Research Presentation. Join us for a half-day seminar featuring our scholars from Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan presenting their research on social and political changes brought by youth in Central Asia. The seminar will be followed by a reception.


4:00-5:00 PM

“Choosing Your Battles: Different Languages of Kazakhstani Activism,” by Nafissa Insebayeva, Japanese Government Scholarship (MEXT) PhD Candidate at the University of Tsukuba, Japan.
“Unveiling Girls’ Madrasah in Kyrgyzstan: The Drivers to Study in Religious Schools” by Aichurek Kurmanbekova, Independent Researcher in Kyrgyzstan.

5:00-6:00 PM

“Digital Generation and Startups in Tajikistan,” by Ilhom Aliev, former Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Tajikistan.
“Tajik Youth Lead Social Change,” by Lola Ulugova, Independent Art Curator and Art Activist in Tajikistan.

6:00-7:00 PM – Reception

For more information and to RSVP, click here