Andijan, Six Years Later

For many people, today is Friday the 13th, but for those who live in Uzbekistan, today marks six years since the Andijan massacre. The background on what happened at Andijan in 2005 is courtesy of Human Rights Watch (HRW):

On the morning of May 13, 2005, gunmen broke into Andijan’s prison to release 23 local businessmen who were on trial for “religious extremism” and attacked several government buildings in Andijan. Hours later, thousands of people gathered on the square of their own accord to vent grievances about poverty and government repression. Although a small group of gunmen were on the square, the overwhelming majority of demonstrators were unarmed.

Later in the day, Uzbek security forces indiscriminately shot into the crowd from armored personnel carriers (APCs) and sniper positions above the square. Toward evening, government troops blocked off the square and then, without warning, opened fire, killing and wounding hundreds of unarmed civilians. As they tried to escape, hundreds of people were shot by snipers or mowed down by troops firing from APCs. After the peak of the carnage, government forces swept through the area and executed some of the wounded where they lay.

Uzbekistan’s human rights record hasn’t improved these past six years. If anything, the human rights conditions have deteriorated. HRW is calling on the European Union–specifically Germany–and United States to “re-examine their relationships with the Uzbek government” due to its “atrocious rights record.”

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