More on the Andijon massacre

I have an op-ed about the Andijon massacre in the New York Times:

On May 13, 2005, military forces dispatched by the government of Uzbekistan fired on a massive protest in the city of Andijon, killing hundreds of Uzbek citizens. The day before, thousands had gathered in Andijon’s Bobur Square to protest the imprisonment of 23 businessmen and, more broadly, to protest the deteriorating social, political and economic conditions of Uzbekistan.

The next day the crowd grew to over 10,000, some drawn by an expectation that President Islam Karimov would come to address the protest. Instead, demonstrators were greeted by gunfire. According to eyewitness accounts, the military fired indiscriminately, killing innocent bystanders. Human rights activists put the death toll at more than 700.

This is one narrative of what has come to be known as the Andijon massacre. It is the narrative that the Uzbek authorities do not want you to hear. According to the Uzbek government, what happened was this: A jailbreak of criminal businessmen led by a band of terrorists resulted in a necessary military response. Only 187 people were killed, all of them armed insurgents.

Immediately following the violence, the Uzbek government expelled all journalists and human rights campaigners from Andijon and forbade an international investigation. The title of Mr. Karimov’s 2005 book on the events sums up the insular regime’s philosophy: “The Uzbek People Will Never Depend on Anyone.” The Andijon massacre was Uzbekistan state business, and anyone who dared promulgate a version that contradicted the official narrative faced arrest or exile.

There was one problem: the Internet. During the crackdown that followed the massacre, many of Uzbekistan’s journalists, writers and activists were driven from the country. Most were given asylum in Europe and North America, where many obtained regular Internet access for the first time.

Read the whole thing, Uzbekistan’s Forgotten Massacre, at the New York Times.

 

 

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