D. Dalton Bennett ‘09 reports that he is in the heart of what he describes as a “protest (that) became a revolution in just one day” in Bishkek, the capitol of Kyrgyzstan.
A freelance journalist and contributor to Eurasianet.org, the 22-year-old Bennett is also co-founder of the Sons of Hedin foundation. That is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to enhancing global awareness of Greater Central Asia.
Bennett, a Richmond native who graduated from William & Mary in December with a degree in government, was originally slated to go to Western China in January; instead he wound up enrolling at the American University of Central Asia in Bishkek. Rani Mullen, assistant professor of government, said that Bennett had also recently begun teaching a class in journalism at AUCA. While a student, Bennett participated in 2008 in the W&M in Washington program, including a visit to the Kyrgyzstan embassy where he met the Kyrgyzstan ambassador.
“Professors Mullen, Ron Rapoport and Paula Pickering have given me all of the tools that I need to pick up this profession,” e-mailed Bennett, who Mullen said had no prior journalism experience. “They taught me to be critical of my surroundings, and to search for what lies underneath, no matter how deep.”
Since Wednesday, he has served as a correspondent in the middle of unrest in Bishkek where protestors have taken control of the country’s capital. Bennett, who contacted the W&M News on Thursday, has also been quoted in the Washington Post coverage and provided first-person accounts for the Huffington Post and The Atlantic.
“Early Wednesday morning in protesters gathered outside of the Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan headquarters to rally in support of opponents of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, which is home to a U.S. airbase used for the war in Afghanistan,” Bennett wrote in the April 7 article for The Atlantic. “By the evening, Bakiyev’s government fell.”