Wednesday, June 8, 2005

Human Rights Watch: "Massacre" in Uzbekistan

1. Crowd masses on Bobur Square, which is later sealed off by security forces
2. Troops open fire on crowd as helicopters circle, forcing people to flee north to Cholpon Prospect
3. Crowd pushes aside buses set up to block the road, as shooting continues
4. Crowd comes face to face with troops near School 15, who open fire as other soldiers in buildings along the road shoot at the crowd too

Uzbek crackdown was a 'massacre'
Uzbekistan's crackdown on protesters in Andijan last month was a "massacre", according to Human Rights Watch, in the fullest report yet on the bloodshed.
Tashkent says only 173 people, mainly Islamic militants, died in the protest.

But eyewitnesses say hundreds of protesters were killed when troops opened fire on Andijan's main square.

"The scale of this killing was so extensive, and its nature was so indiscriminate and disproportionate, that it can best be described as a massacre," Human Rights Watch [HRW] said in its report, presented at a press conference in Moscow on Tuesday.

So now, of course, the question becomes: How can this be spun into the most valuable possible yarn?
As has been reported previously, HRW said the huge protest was sparked by the trial of 23 local businessmen on charges of religious extremism and the subsequent freeing of those men and other prisoners by armed locals on the night of 12 May.

But it said there was no evidence that the protest was motivated by an Islamist agenda, as alleged by the government.

"Interviews with numerous people present at the demonstrations consistently revealed that the protesters spoke about economic conditions in Andijan, government repression, and unfair trials - and not the creation of an Islamic state. People were shouting 'Ozodliq!' ['Freedom'] and not 'Allahu Akbar' ['God is Great']," HRW said.

I ask you: Do you have any idea why an ally of the USA's War On Islam would want people to think the protests were about religion, rather than "economic conditions, government repression, and unfair trials"? Any idea at all?
Witnesses told the group that they massed in Andijan's main square, calling for freedom and justice, and were then gunned down by government troops after the square was sealed off.
The protesters tried to flee the square, and fled north, but found their way blocked and came under heavy fire near School 15, the report said.
The government says it is conducting its own investigation into what happened.
Oh, I'm sure we can expect a thorough investigation and a no-holds-barred report from this US ally where the ruling thugs are [in]famous for boiling their opponents alive! No kidding. Have a look at this! With friends like these ... who needs ... friends?
The Uzbek embassy in London did not respond to a request for an interview regarding the HRW report.
I wonder why.

Would you like some more background? Here's some and here's some more.