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News from Uzbekistan

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  • Zafar Khan
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , May 15, 2005
      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
      civil rights".

      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
      more "rebels".

      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
      2005 03:00


      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
      autocratic leadership.

      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
      shooting continued.

      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.

      IWPR’s 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 Andijan’s prison and
      proceeded to take over much of the city.

      Human Rights Hypocrisy: The Uzbekistan Alliance*

      By Matthew Riemer
      Columnist – USA


      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,
      HRW’s 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

      More Information on Uzbekistan at:

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