Spotlight: Save the Tweets From Kyrgyzstan

Registan's Sarah Kendzior reminds us of the impermanence of Internet accounts

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The sweeping protests in Iran following the 2009 elections have often been described as a Twitter revolution. The social networking service allowed protesters to organize in mass numbers on the fly without having to worry about Iran's notorious Internet censorship. With Kyrgyzstan now plunged into chaos by protesters, who may have succeeded in ousting the president, will Kyrgyzstan also be called a Twitter revolution? Sarah Kendzior, writing at the must-read Central Asia news site Registan, has "little doubt" it will be called that. But she's "skeptical" that the term is accurate. To understand what's happening, she says, we should keep records instead of leaping to apply labels:

The information coming out of Kyrgyzstan is not always reliable. It is often biased, short-sighted, confusing and contradictory. But it is giving us a view of Kyrgyzstan that demands our attention — not only now, but in the months and years to come, when we look back on these events and try to piece together what happened. Unlike with the Andijon events, we might actually be able to do so. But in order for that to happen, we need to create a record of these materials. We need to preserve them before they are wiped away — not necessarily by the Kyrgyz government, but by the true foes of revolution: apathy and neglect. Many of the Uzbek materials that I archived are gone simply because those tending to them let them go. The massacre became a memory, hopelessly unresolved. This is one of the reasons that “Do not forget the Andijon massacre!” has become a rallying cry of Uzbekistan’s political opposition. As the world’s interest in Kyrgyzstan fades — and, believe me, it will — so too will the desire to preserve the narrative of the events.

Kendzior recounts the 2005 "massacre" in Andjion, Uzbekistan, when first-hand bloggers allowed the outside world a rare glimpse inside, as Twitter did in Iran 2009. But those Internet accounts disappeared with time, deleted or forgotten. Will the same thing happen with Kyrgyzstan?

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.