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Freedom Democratic Party (Uzbekistan)

Last modified: 2011-06-10 by phil nelson
Keywords: uzbekistan | freedom democratic party (erk) | bashimi | crescent: hoistwise | star: white |
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[Freedom Democratic Party flag] image by David Martucci

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Freedom Democratic Party (ERK)

The ERK ( Freedom ) Democratic Party grew out of the Birlik (Unity) Popular Front of Uzbekistan which was started by Muhammad Salih and two of his friends in November, 1988. ERK took its name from a Turkistani nationalist party of the same name that was active among intellectuals in Central Asia in the 1920s. The ERK party distinguished itself from the rest of the Birlik movement by stressing the principle of "Independence First" rather than the notion of "First Democracy, Then Independence" which had become the slogan of pro-Moscow factions of the movement.

ERK was officially founded on April 11,1990, and Muhammad Salih was elected the party leader on April 30, 1990. The party's platform articulated the goals of independence for Uzbekistan, a multi-party democratic system, a market economy, private enterprise and land reform.
researched by Jarig Bakker

[ERK-Birlik ] image by Ivan Sache

The Birlik website says that Birlik is "Popular Movement of Uzbekistan". Foundation of Erk was promoted by Uzbek president Ismail Karimov, who required a more "loyal", constructive opposition than Birlik. Birlik was not allowed to have a candidate to the general elections in 1991, whereas Muhamad Solih was appointed as Karimov's "official challenger". In 1992, Erk became too radical in Karimov's eyes, and a new "opposition" party called Vatan Taraqqiyoti (Fatherland Progress) was founded. In 1995, two new parties called Adolat (Justice) and Miliy Tiklanish (National Rebirth) were founded on Karimov's direct "advice", and many parliament members were "asked" by the government to join these parties. Karimov's party, the successor of the local branch of Communist Party in Soviet era, was renamed in 1991 People's Democratic Party.

On the party website front page,,, there is the flag shown on , with the caption "Turkiston bayrogi" (Turkestan flag), and a link to a page which seems to be in Uzbek. A flag similar to the Erk flag, but in proportion 1:2 is reported in Drapeaux de l'Islam (Pierre Charles Lux-Wurm) as the flag used by the Islamic Republic of Turkestan (April 1922-January 1924). The information about this flag is more or less the same as our report on (Central Asian khanates), which quotes a special issue of The The Flag Bulletin"> by Trembicky. The source of Lux-Wurm is probably The Flag Bulletin, too. Lux-Wurm says that the wolf's head used as finial was explicitely mentioned in the flag description, and the wolf (bozkurt) was considered by the Turkish clans as their common ancestor (see Gengis Khan, nicknamed the Blue Wolf). The colour of the orange rectangle is said to be "santal", and should recall Uighur standards and flags of preislamic sultanates in Turkestan [I thought a sultanate was necessarily Islamic.] Moreover, the interpretation of the nine stripes in Lux-Wurm is slightly different from ours: We have for the nine Turkish peoples: Azeris, Ottomans, Kirghiz, Kazhaks, Turkomans, Uzbeks, Tatars, Karakapaks and Eastern Turkomans whereas Lux-Wurm has, from top to bottom of the flag: Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Uighurs, Tadjiks, Turkmens, Kirghiz, Kara-Kalpaks, Pamirians, and smaller tribes spread over Turkestan. Lux-Wurm also refers to the nine historical regions of Turkestan, as follows: Kichi-Ghuz, Ortha-Ghuz, Ulu-Ghuz, sultanate of Kashgar, sultanat of Herat, khanat of Khiva, khanat of Kokand, khanat of Turcomans, emirate of Bukhara. Lux-Wurm does not say anything about the flag blue border. sent separately.
Ivan Sache