Massacre in Uzbekistan

May 16th, 2005 - by admin

Stephen Khan, Francis Elliott and Peter Boehm / The Independent – 2005-05-16 08:27:04

Massacre in Uzbekistan
Stephen Khan, Francis Elliott and Peter Boehm / The Independent

LONDON & TASHKENT (May 15, 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 terror.

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 camps.

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 support.”

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 movement.”

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 Uzbekistan?”

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”.

© 2004 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd

Protests at the Uzbek city Leaves 300 people Dead, 100 Wounded
RHC News Service

HAVANA (May 14, 2005) — Soldiers loyal to Uzbek president Islam Karimov fired on thousands of demonstrators Friday to crush an uprising that began when men carrying weapons liberated 2,000 prisoners from jail, including suspects on trial for alleged Islamic extremism.

Karimov, who has maintained tight control over the Central Asian nation, has claimed that authorities tried to negotiate a peaceful end to protests, but that troops were forced to open fire when participants in the uprising, who had seized a government building, attempted to break through an advancing line of police and soldiers.

The Uzbek president also said that 10 government troops and many more “militants” died in the clash.

Victims’ relatives have condemned the government, accusing troops of killing innocent civilians. Witnesses said 200 to 300 people were shot dead, as a result of these violent acts.

On Saturday, the Uzbek leader said that authorities tried to negotiate a peaceful solution, but that they won’t yield to the protesters’ demand – that is, the release of all their followers across the Fergana valley. Hundreds of protesters gathered today at the site of earlier violence in eastern Uzbekistan and demonstrators condemned the government for firing on women and children.

According to several news cables, some 4,000 terrified Uzbek residents fled to the border of neighboring Kyrgyzstan, looking for asylum, and witnesses said that on Friday, when a group of about 70 protesters holding hostages at the square waved a white flag, soldiers opened fire.

Silence in Uzbekistan
Loring Wirbel

Colorado Springs (May 15, 2005) — We can thank the BBC, the Russian Interfax news agency, and various human rights organizations for getting the truth out about Uzbekistan, after its government, the US government, and various Western news agencies tried to put the “fix” in Friday night.

Here’s what really happened: an armed group of local residents of Andijan (NOT IMU or Hizb-ut Tahrir militant supporters) stormed the local prison to release local business leaders. Local civic activists charged that the Uzbek government had been advised by the US government, without evidence, that these leaders were IMU “terrorists” and should be held in prison indefinitely. The prison doors were opened and everyone was freed.

Later, more than 10,000 mostly-unarmed citizens, with a high percentage of children, gathered in the public square to demand the resignation of Islam Karimov.

The BBC accurately reported as of noon Eastern time on Friday that
security forces had opened fire on protesters with submachine guns, killing at least 500, including at least 100 children. Condoleezza Rice and State Dept. spokesman Richard Boucher said that they did not believe the reports, and in any event, these people were probably supporters of terrorists. Sure enough, on Saturday morning all the

Western news reports from AP, Reuters, etc. said that only 10 were
dead, and that these were “armed rebels”. The BBC had warned Friday afternoon that bodies were being taken to Uzbek government hospitals, the hospitals were being closed, and that bodies would no doubt “disappear.” Isn’t it funny how some Russian news outlets told the truth, while virtually all Western sources outside BBC served as Uzbek government mouthpieces?

Luckily, by Saturday afternoon, reports were emerging that 500 dead was probably an understatement. This should be a warning to all Stalinist governments that, in the Internet age, hidden massacres are simply impossible to maintain. It should also be a warning to the US to watch out for its seamier friends.

This issue is of immediate relevance to Global Network and all working for peace in space, because the US maintains a major space and intelligence base, a so-called “Forward Operating Location”, at Khanabad Air Base in Uzbekistan. Consequently, we will support Islam Karimov unflaggingly. But the position of Condi Rice and the US government will look more and more untenable over the next few days.

More Dispatches

• Massacre in Uzbekistan
Independent, UK – May 14, 2005
Hundreds of protesters are reported to have been gunned down in bloody clashes with government forces that have ravaged eastern Uzbekistan. …

•Mayhem follows Uzbek massacre
Times Online, UK – 5 hours ago
ARMED men fought government forces near the city of Andijan in eastern Uzbekistan yesterday as witnesses reported that up to 600 people were killed when troops …
Tensions persist in Uzbek city following suppression of uprising
Shot down, ‘like rabbits’ Calcutta Telegraph
President denies telling troops to open fire The Herald

• Hundreds of civilians killed after protests turn to massacre
Independent, UK – 2 hours ago
As Uzbekistan awoke to the scale of the massacre of Andijan yesterday, the city in the Ferghana valley was enclosed in a ring of steel, with roadblocks …

• Uzbek troops ‘shot at us like rabbits’ The Herald

• Uzbeks bury dead after troops fire on protesters Financial Times

• ‘They shot us like rabbits’
Scotsman, UK – 3 hours ago
… refugees. Britain called on Uzbekistan to allow the Red Cross and foreign observers into the country to investigate the massacre.

• Uzbek soldiers even finished off the wounded: Witness
Indian Express, India – 6 hours ago
ANDIZHAN, MAY 15: Families of hundreds killed in Uzbekistan when troops opened fire to … 15 after the massacre until they were removed in the early hours on …

• Uzbeks bury their dead after troops fire on protesters
Cape Times (subscription), South Africa – 45 minutes ago
… two-storey School No15, the scene witnesses said of a massacre of civilians … protests, which would make it the bloodiest incident in Uzbekistan’s post-Soviet …

• Harsh tensions persist in Uzbek city following suppression of …
Khaleej Times, United Arab Emirates – 17 minutes ago
… one of the worst incidents of state-inspired bloodshed since the massacre of protesters … The violence was Uzbekistan’s worst since gaining independence in 1991 …

• Bodies lie in schoolyard as regime seeks to blame ‘Islamist rebels
New Zealand Herald, New Zealand – 3 hours ago
As Uzbekistan awoke to the scale of the massacre of Andizhan yesterday, the leafy city in the Ferghana valley was closed in a ring of steel, with armoured …

• Hizb ut-Tahrir Challenges Karimov to End His Tyranny and Violence
WebWire (press release), GA – May 14, 2005
… the Uzbek President Islam Karimov, blamed Hizb ut-Tahrir for recent violence in Uzbekistan. … The massacre in Andijan is the latest chapter in Karimov’s brutal …