The Memorial Complex and Museum in memory of the victims of political repression
Jadidism is the name given to a Muslim intellectual movement from the late 19th − early 20th century, which advocated the reform of the traditional educational system of religious schools and the introduction of modern schooling methods in Central Asia. The reform was viewed as a prerequisite for social change and cultural reawakening, and as a means of improving the region’s economic and technical competitiveness. Inspired by the European education model, Jadids called for social reform through education, literacy and the use of print media.
Many of the movement’s activists advocated the ideals of freedom and independence, along with liberation from colonial rule. The followers of the Jadid movement included many prominent figures, such as Behbudi, Munavvar qori, Fitrat, Qadiri, Chulpon and Avloni.
With their profound faith in the power of knowledge and education, the movement’s activists set up progressive schools, where local children were taught not only religious but also secular studies. They launched publishing houses, founded newspapers and periodicals in local languages, and opened libraries and charitable foundations.
Jadids were instrumental in launching the first university in Central Asia − the Turkestan People’s University, now called the National University of Uzbekistan, which remains the largest university in our country.
Tragically, almost all the key figures of the Jadid movement fell prey to the campaign of Soviet political repression in the 1930s. Hundreds of the movement’s followers were sent to prison camps and executed during Joseph Stalin’s Great Terror, on charges of being “nationalists” and “enemies of the people”. Their works, which could arouse the feelings of national identity and people’s pride in their own background and history, remained banned for over half a century. The reading and even storage of their books was deemed a criminal offence. The names of some of the best minds of our nation, such as Fitrat, Munavvar qori, Avloni, Behbudi, Zokhiriy and Khoji Muin, were virtually erased from people’s memory and fell into oblivion.
From the early years of independence, President Islam Karimov stressed the importance of reviving the spiritual, cultural and historical heritage of the Uzbek people, and raised the matter to government policy level. The rich scientific and literary legacy of the Jadid movement’s activists began to be widely researched, their books were republished and included in school and university curriculums.
For many years during the Soviet era, it was a taboo subject that the abandoned wasteland near the Bozsu canal in downtown Tashkent was a mass burial site for intellectuals persecuted during Stalin’s great purges. At President Karimov’s request, the Memorial Complex and Museum in memory of the victims of political repression were established there. The 31st August was declared Remembrance Day for the Victims of Political Repression.
The restoration of memory and truth about the followers of the Jadid movement, who gave their lives for the sake of their motherland’s freedom and progress, was truly a triumph of historical justice.