News from Uzbekistan
- Massacre in Uzbekistan
Up to 500 protesters feared dead. Ex-ambassador
accuses UK of failing democracy movement
By Stephen Khan and Francis Elliott in London and
Peter Boehm in Tashkent
15 May 2005
Hundreds of protesters are reported to have been
gunned down in bloody clashes with government forces
that have ravaged eastern Uzbekistan.
One human rights observer in the eastern city of
Andizhan said that up to 500 people may have perished
in the shootings and the gun battles that followed. A
doctor spoke of "many, many dead", witnesses said 200
to 300 people were shot dead, and an AP reporter saw
at least 30 bodies in Andijan. As night fell, tension
was high, with armoured vehicles positioned at
crossroads and trucks blocking main thoroughfares.
Terrified demonstrators tried to flee the country,
seen as a key ally by Britain and the US in the war on
As blood-spattered bodies were lifted from the streets
of Andizhan, survivors and thousands of others packed
their bags and headed for neighbouring Kyrgyzstan.
Some made it across the border and were in refugee
In a severe rebuke to London and Washington's approach
to the region, Britain's former ambassador to the
country yesterday said the countries had swallowed
Uzbek propaganda that sought to portray the democracy
movement as a brand of Islamic extremism.
Craig Murray told the IoS that the Government had to
take some responsibility for the unfolding events
because it had failed to support those trying to
oppose the dictatorship of President Islam Karimov. He
revealed that he visited Andizhan a year ago and met
those trying to build a democratic opposition
movement. In a bid to bolster their cause he asked the
UK government to fund them. His requests were turned
down by the Foreign Office.
"The Americans and British wouldn't do anything to
help democracy in Uzbekistan," he said. Uzbekistan
provides a base for US forces engaged in
anti-terrorism operations in neighbouring Afghanistan.
Mr Murray added: "We didn't provide support for those
who were trying to develop democratic opposition, and
that includes these people in Andizhan. People are
turning to violence because we ... gave them no
The former ambassador, who left the Foreign Office
earlier this year after accusing the British
Government of accepting intelligence gained under
torture by Uzbek authorities, had called for the
pro-democracy activists to be supported by the West,
as elsewhere in the former Soviet Union. His requests
to London were turned down.
"The Americans were making a distinction between human
rights training, which they were happy to do, and
pro-democracy training, which they weren't."
The Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, insisted yesterday
that the UK had "consistently made clear to the
authorities in Uzbekistan that the repression of
dissent and discontent is wrong and they urgently need
to deal with patent failings in respect of human and
Andrew MacKinlay, Labour MP for Thurrock and a senior
member of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the last
parliament, said: "I deeply regret that [the Foreign
Office] did not do more to help the pro-democracy
Sir Menzies Campbell, deputy leader of the Liberal
Democrats, said, "Rather than use force to impose
democracy, as in Iraq, should we not be more assiduous
in promoting democratic movements in countries like
Battles raged on Friday when rebel gunmen sprung
hundreds of people they regard as political prisoners
from a jail in Andizhan.
As bodies were picked up from the streets yesterday,
Saidzhakhon Zainatbitdinov, an independent human
rights worker said: "The total number of deaths could
reach 500 people." Earlier, President Karimov claimed
that 10 police and troops had been killed, and many
The Kremlin expressed its concern over the "danger of
the destabilisation of the Central Asian region".
Troops open fire on Uzbek protesters
By Isabel Gorst and Neil Buckley in Moscow
Published: May 14 2005 03:00 | Last updated: May 14
Troops opened fire on thousands of demonstrators in
Uzbekistan yesterday as President Islam Karimov tried
to prevent an uprising in the east of the central
Asian republic from escalating into a threat to his
A violent battle with security forces erupted in the
town of Andizhan after armed rebels stormed the town
prison overnight, freeing more than 2,000 inmates. The
Uzbek press service reported nine people dead and 34
wounded - although the protest's leaders told news
agencies as many as 50 had been killed.
Blood Flows in Uzbek Crackdown
IWPR reporter's eyewitness account of scenes of panic
as armoured cars spray gunfire randomly into crowds of
By Galima Bukharbaeva in Andijan (RCA No. 377,
The assault began at 5.20 pm local time. At least nine
people were killed in the first volley of gunfire.
Their fellow-demonstrators carried their blood-covered
bodies inside the compound of the Andijan regional
government building, which was being held by the
We journalists witnessed these first shootings, but we
were unable to make a count of subsequent casualties,
because we had to dive for cover ourselves as the
Uzbekistan: A Year of Disturbances
Over the past year, growing anger towards the
government coupled with the harsh realities of life
have sparked a series of incidents.
Uzbek Troops Fire on Thousands at Andijan Rally
Demonstration turns violent as Tashkent authorities
send in soldiers to shoot at crowds.
By IWPR staff in Uzbekistan (RCA No. 376, 13-May-05)
Troops opened fire on thousands of demonstrators in
the Uzbek city of Andijan on May13, bringing a bloody
climax to protests sparked by a trial of local
businessmen accused of being Islamic radicals.
As thousands of people including many women and
children took part in a rally in the centre of the
city, located in the east of the Fergana Valley, two
columns of armoured cars moved in on the crowds and
fired on civilians apparently indiscriminately.
IWPRs country director Galima Bukharbaeva saw at
least five blood-covered bodies lying on the ground,
and many other people were injured.
Controversial Trial Triggered Uzbek Violence
Local businessmen accused of being Islamic subversives
say they were framed and so do many of their
By Matluba Azamatova for IWPR in Andijan (RCA No. 376,
The violent protests seen on May 13 as thousands of
people rallied in the eastern Uzbekistan city of
Andijan were sparked by a trial in which 23 men
accused of Islamic radicalism protested their
The day before, supporters freed the accused men and
hundreds of other detainees from Andijans prison and
proceeded to take over much of the city.
Human Rights Hypocrisy: The Uzbekistan Alliance*
By Matthew Riemer
The United States often cites human rights as its
primary motive for action and policy, while always
being sure to pay great lip service to the concept
whenever it can be used as a secondary justification.
After all, human rights are the cornerstone of
democratic society, which the US and UK claim to be
the apotheosis, so its rhetorical inclusion is
virtually obligatory in the vacuous canons of the Ari
Fleischers of the world.
When the bombing of Afghanistan began, US officials
tugged at the heart strings by mentioning the horrible
human rights abuses of the Taliban: women forced to
live horribly as second class citizens, a destitute to
non-existent education system, weekly public
executions, and the list went on.
HRW Blames Turmoil on Uzbek Regime
NEW YORK/TASHKENT, May 15, 2005 (IslamOnline.net &
News Agencies) - Human Rights Watch on Sunday, May 15,
lambasted Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov for a
military crackdown that has left hundreds of people
dead, while witnesses and survivors recounted
heart-wrenching massacres committed by the army.
The government can't use the war on terrorism to
justify shooting demonstrators, said Holly Cartner,
HRWs executive director for Europe and Central Asia,
reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).
This isn't about terrorism. It's about people
speaking out against poverty and repression, he
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