Skip to comments.Dozens Reported Killed in Uzbekistan(at least 50 killed?)
Posted on 05/13/2005 9:24:15 AM PDT by TigerLikesRooster
Dozens Reported Killed in Uzbekistan
By BAGILA BUKHARBAYEVA, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 33 minutes ago
ANDIJAN, Uzbekistan - Soldiers opened fire on thousands of protesters in eastern Uzbekistan on Friday after demonstrators stormed a jail to free 23 men accused of Islamic extremism. At least 50 people may have been killed in clashes with police and security forces, a protest leader said.
Protesters fell to the ground as the troops surrounded the crowd of some 4,000 and started shooting outside the city's administration building, which had been seized by the demonstrators. An Associated Press reporter saw 10 people who apparently had been hit, including at least one dead, and participants in the rally said two more had been killed.
As soldiers continued shooting with what sounded like large-caliber gunfire and automatic weapons, one man sobbed, "Oh, my son! He's dead!"
Uzbekistan is a key U.S. ally in the war on terrorism, providing an air base to support military operations in neighboring Afghanistan following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. But the closer ties with Washington have drawn increased international attention to widespread human rights abuses in the former Soviet republic, whose authoritarian government is seen as one of the most repressive in the region.
Andijan is in the volatile, impoverished Fergana Valley, where Islamist sentiment is high, provoking tensions with the secular government that tolerates only officially approved Muslim observances.
President Islam Karimov rushed to Andijan, where the government said it remained in control despite the chaos, although it blocked foreign news reports of the clashes for its domestic audience. Neighboring Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, which share the Fergana Valley, sealed their borders.
In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the situation in eastern Uzbekistan was stabilizing.
"First of all, this is an internal matter for Uzbekistan," Lavrov said. "We've been closely watching information on development of the situation in this country, and recent information shows that it's being stabilized."
The shootings by the soldiers followed an overnight jailbreak of the 23 Islamic businessmen, whose supporters stormed the prison where they were held. Their supporters, who seized weapons after attacking a military unit, later clashed with police.
There were varying reports about casualties amid the chaos. Protest leader Kabuljon Parpiyev told AP that as many as 50 people may have been killed during the course of the day.
Witnesses and officials put the toll from an earlier clash at nine dead and 34 injured. Two of the dead were children, Sharif Shakirov, a brother of one of the defendants said, adding that 30 soldiers who shot at demonstrators were being held hostage.
Shakirov told AP the jailbreak was triggered by news that security services Thursday had started rounding up people involved in a sit-in outside the courthouse where the trial was taking place.
Uzbeks in recent weeks have shown increasing willingness to challenge their authoritarian leadership in protests, apparently bolstered by the March uprising in Kyrgyzstan that drove out President Askar Akayev and by similar revolts in Ukraine and Georgia.
The 23 businessmen who were on trial are members of Akramia a group named for their founder, Akram Yuldashev, an Islamic dissident sentenced in 1999 to 17 years in prison for allegedly urging the overthrow of Uzbekistan's secular government in a pamphlet published in the late 1990s. He has proclaimed his innocence.
Akramis are considered the backbone of Andijan's small business community, running a medical clinic and pharmacy, as well as working as furniture craftsmen, and providing employment to thousands in the Fergana Valley.
But authorities claim they are linked to the outlawed radical Islamic party Hizb-ut-Tahrir, a group that seeks to create a worldwide Islamic state and has been forced underground throughout most of formerly Soviet Central Asia and Russia.
Uzbek authorities blame Hizb-ut-Tahrir for inspiring deadly attacks and bombings last year that killed more than 50 people in Uzbekistan. Hizb-ut-Tahrir, however, claims to disavow violence and has denied responsibility.
The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which is linked to al-Qaida and the Taliban, also fought for establishment of an Islamic state in the valley in the late 1990s. Concerns are high that Fergana could be a flashpoint for destabilizing wide swaths of ex-Soviet Central Asia.
The trial has inspired one of the largest public shows of anger over alleged rights abuses by the government. Parpiyev said that the protesters' main demand was the release of Yuldashev.
"The people have risen," said Valijon Atakhonjonov, a brother of another one of the defendants.
Thousands of protesters massed on the square outside the administration building, where a podium was erected. Protest organizers, some with Kalashnikov automatic rifles strapped across their chests, took turns addressing the crowd through a microphone.
"We want to be allowed to work and do our business without hindrance," Parpiyev, the 42-year-old leader of the protest, told AP.
Many of the men wore square black embroidered skullcaps, while some were in the white skullcaps favored by observant Muslim Uzbeks. The protesters had posted their own guards on the perimeter of the square.
A nearby theater and cinema were burning. Two dead bodies were splayed near the square one with a stomach wound, another burned. Several military helicopters circled overhead.
One of the 23 defendants, Abduvosid Egomov, was holed up in a local government compound overrun by protesters who broke up pavement stones to reinforce a metal fence surrounding the compound in efforts to stave off security forces. Some were also preparing Molotov cocktails.
"We are not going to overthrow the government. We demand economic freedom," a pale and thin Egomov told AP.
"If the army is going to storm, if they're going to shoot, we are ready to die instead of living as we are living now. The Uzbek people have been reduced to living like dirt," he said.
Parpiyev said Interior Minister Zakir Almatov had called him in the morning and heard the protesters' demands. Almatov initially agreed to negotiations, but later called back and said the talks were off, Parpiyev said.
"He said, 'We don't care if 200, 300 or 400 people die. We have force and we will chuck you out of there anyway,'" Parpiyev quoted the interior minister as saying.
In a separate incident Friday, a man carrying fake explosives was shot and killed outside the Israeli Embassy in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent. Officials identified him as an unemployed ethnic Russian with a history of mental illness.
Russia's liberal Yabloko party said the unrest was an "alarm bell" for Karimov and for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"Having fully repressed the democratic opposition, the Karimov regime has not left the Uzbek people any other road than the road of radical Islamism, whose leaders the population is listening to ever more closely," said Sergei Mitrokhin, deputy head of the party.
And this is bad because... ?
I'm taking Uzbekistan off of my travel wish list.
All this will do is stir them up to protest more - doesn't anybody ever see that?
These people were defenders of Islamic extremism.
So to me, this is nothing more than a good start.
Then we can kill more Islamic extremists.
What response to angry finatics storming Government buildings would you suggest?
And if you arrest carjackers it will piss them off and do it more.
And if you arrest bank robbers it will just piss them off and do it more.
And if you arrest murderers it will just piss them off and do it more.
And if you arrest muggers it will just piss them off and do it more.
And if you arrest burglars it will just piss them off and do it more.
For some (genetic?) reason, all these statements make sense to the simple mind...
Yes, it's much better to cave into their demands. ;-}
Because the dictator of Uzbekistan says they are 'islamic radicals', it's alright to shoot their supporters? It would be nice to have some other corroboration.
Remember that Russia has vested interests here, and is more worried about an 'Orange Plague' than Islamic fundamentalists these days.
In Kazakhstan, also a mostly Moslem country, police have been known to plant 'subversive Jihadist literature' on people who rubbed them the wrong way.
Where's your evidence of police corruption in Kazakhstan? Links?
When protesters rush the jail it's not just about islamic extremism, it's a riot and given Islamic riots these days an extreme danget to the police. Plenty of justification - yes, it's 'all right' Peter - for Uzbekistan's police for opening fire. I certainly would have.
What would you recommend, ask them nicely to leave?
You're kidding, right? Kazakhstany cops make Russian menty look like Vatican Swiss guards.
I've been there and I have friends there, and read a lot of their online journals.
In Karaganda, a friend who is an ethnic-Russian Orthodox christian got on the wrong side of the authorities when she sued Moscow after her ordeal as a hostage at Nordost, and was soon questioned about her ties to 'Khizb-ut-Takhrir'. This organization is on no terrorist list anywhere but in the various Absurdistans, if it even exists.
So far the Kazakhstanis have arrested 20 members of this 'extremist group', also 'businessmen', as in Uzbekistan. This group is supposedly active in Tadzhikistan and Uzbekistan, as well, where it is accused of being both a Wahhabist extremist group and a product of the British secret service used to create instability in Russia's former satellites.
I don't have time to translate it, here's something on the group and their 'activities' (one student gluing a poster to a streetlight):
Mind you, I'm all for shooting a few Wahhabists, but only real ones.
I wonder, what form would Ukraine's 'Orange Revolution' take in the miscellaneous central Asian states? And how would Moscow and her puppets characterize them?
I don't see that as a constructive response to my dispair about the futility of these conflicts.
I rest my case and you've answered to your own (implied) question.
Despair has never solved a single problem; not ever. The only way to defeat evil is by actively opposing it.
Peter--the situation in Uzbekistan is not unlike with Arab regimes. One the one hand, you have corrupt thugs who keep their people down and have huge repressive apparatuses. Although to be fair, Karimov is better then Gulf Sheikhs--at least he is not antisemite and he does not use oil or other profits to finance terror network--in many ways he is brutal and ruthless autocrat On the other hand, there are Islamists who may try to use popular discontent with such regimes to gain power. Really tough situation.
Agree! I was deployed at Karshi-Khanabad last year. More Uzbeks came on the base every day to work than there were Americans present. I found the Uzbeks to be a likable people who were pleased by my attempts to speak Russian, and I felt safe in their country. The Catholic chaplain and I made two road trips to Samarkand, 160 kilometers away. No weapons, escorts, nothing. Uzbek traffic is the mildest I have ever seen. BTW, the bombings in Tashkent last year were carried out by non-Uzbek speaking foreigners.
Human-rights activists then as now criticize Islam Karimov for oppressing the oppressors. Hizb-ut-Tahrir would create a world Islamic dictatorship. Uzbeks I spoke to value their secular society. They often said, "we're not like those people to the south (Afghans and Taliban)".
Islamic activists present themselves as victims for being denied the privilege of victimizing others.
Long live the Republic of Uzbekistan!
Sounds like the info I was looking for, thanks. Here's to more dead Jihadists!
OH OH NOT GOOD I just hear about it Granny I been offline for computer problems
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