13 May, 2005

A bloody Friday in Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan is blowing up. Since I was planning on going there sometime next year, this eenterests me greatly.

The New York Times is reporting from Moscow (with binoculars, I guess) the following:
MOSCOW, May 13 - Armed gunmen attacked police posts and stormed a prison in eastern Uzbekistan early this morning, unleashing a day of protest, chaos and violence that left at least 10 people dead and dozens more wounded, according to news reports, official accounts and one person who claimed to have joined an uprising against the government of President Islam Karimov.
I take from this that they were relying at least partly on Karimov's propaganda. The short, short version, as far as I can figure it out:

Twenty-three Muslim businessmen were put on trial by Karimov, accused of being part of a relatively unknown group of Islamic extremists, Akramia, which the government claims has an association with Hizb-ut-Tahrir, a violent, bomb-throwing Islamic extremist outfit. Akramia is the group of supporters of jailed Uzbek dissident Akram Yuldashev (Yaldushov), who Karimov locked up in 1999 on charges of plotting to overthrow his government. Why anyone would want to do THAT, I can't possibly imagine.

The Akramis don't seem to be very good candidates for terrorists - they are completely above-board, forming a respected business community around the city of Andijan. They have implemented their own welfare/profit-sharing system. They are, indeed, devout Muslims, but they vehemently deny being part of any extremist network.

The arrest followed a recent bombing in Tashkent. The Akramis responded by threatening to... call for demonstrations in the streets.

Well, they were convicted, following a highly-polarizing trial. After the recent upheaval in Kyrgyzstan, people are no doubt feeling their oats. So they demonstrated in Andijan, probably tried to free their jailed comrades. Karimov responded by sending in troops who opened fire on the crowd, killing maybe a dozen or so. NYT gives us this:
By nightfall, troops loyal to Mr. Karimov's government gained control of the central square, dispersing the protesters, according to news reports from the city, citing government officials. The government also claimed to have retaken the mayor's office, which the armed gunmen seized in the hours after storming the prison, but it was not immediately clear what happened to at least a dozen hostages they had captured. Gunfire was reported in the city for hours afterward.

Mr. Karimov's government announced earlier today that nine people died and 34 were wounded in the initial violence. It said that "an armed group of criminals" attacked the city's police and military posts and stormed its prison shortly after midnight today, freeing hundreds of prisoners. The gunmen and freed prisoners were then joined in the central square by hundreds of protests in what appeared to be a spontaneous demonstration of support.
As always, keep this FOREMOST IN YOUR MIND. The Uzbeks are our allies in the "War on Terror". (Holy fuck.) We send people to Karimov to be tortured, who has them boiled alive for us.

The White House responded, thankfully. They said this:
"The people of Uzbekistan want to see a more representative and democratic government, but that should come through peaceful means, not through violence," White House spokesman Scott McClellan added.

"While we have been very consistently critical of the human rights situation in Uzbekistan, we are very concerned about the outbreak of violence in Andizhan," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.

Washington was particularly concerned about "the escape of prisoners, including possibly members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, an organization we consider a terrorist organization," Boucher said.
Lovely, lovely people, our goddamn motherfucking cocksuckers. I mean, government.

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