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Uzbeks Know What Kids Won't Be Doing This Summer

  • RFE/RL's Uzbek Service

Children are not allowed "to wander the streets," or go to arcades to use the Internet or play video games. Swimming in "pools, brooks, canals, lakes, and rivers" is also prohibited, as is leaving the country.

Children are not allowed "to wander the streets," or go to arcades to use the Internet or play video games. Swimming in "pools, brooks, canals, lakes, and rivers" is also prohibited, as is leaving the country.

School's out for the summer, but there will be no swimming, hanging out at arcades, or even praying at the local mosque.

These and other free-time activities are officially barred by the authorities, according to a letter sent to RFE/RL from the eastern city of Andijon.

It's not clear if the ban extends to other areas of Uzbekistan, but the letter reveals that parents in Andijon are expected to acknowledge that they know which activities are unacceptable, and guarantee that their children will not be engaging in them.

Praying in mosques tops the list of banned activities, a familiar approach in Uzbekistan, where the authorities have previously banned minors from attending Friday Prayers or services during Eid in an effort to curtail the influence of extreme forms of Islam.

They are also barred from joining "various religious movements" and attending "illegal schools" -- a term widely used for underground madrasahs, or religious schools.

The guarantee letter also demands that parents not let their children work in bazaars, or sell goods from pushcarts, a widespread practice across the country.

Children are also banned from trying to earn money by selling gasoline, washing cars, or begging in the streets.

"I guarantee that my child will obey ethical-moral principles," the letter reads.

The list requires that children stay home after 6 p.m., but it doesn't allow for much free-ranging during the daytime either.

They are not allowed "to wander the streets," or go to arcades to use the Internet or play video games. Swimming in "pools, brooks, canals, lakes, and rivers" is also prohibited, as is leaving the country.

The letter places an emphasis on health and safety, too, reminding parents that their children are expected to follow road-safety rules, and are barred from carrying sharp objects and "consuming hazardous substances."

An Andijon housewife provided an image of the letter to RFE/RL on condition that her name not be revealed. She said she was given three copies of the letter by the administration of School No. 30, which her three children attend.

"I signed one letter last week when a teacher brought it to my home. I need to sign two more by the end of May," the woman said on May 9, adding that she supported the measure.

"The teachers are doing their job," she said. "It's not easy for them, either." According to the parent, the guarantee letters apply to children aged 10 to 15.

School administrations say the letter is based on Article 30 of the Education Law, which stipulates that parents and guardians are responsible for defending the rights and interests of underage children.

"If I fail to follow the mentioned requirements, I accept legal liability," reads the passage before the signature line. "I don't object to the requirements."

Written by Farangis Najibullah based on reporting by RFE/RL's Uzbek Service
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