Andijon Protest Update

by Nathan Hamm on 5/11/2005 · 2 comments

RFE/RL has an more details on yesterday’s protest in Andijon.

However, some rights activists say the Andijan cases may not be only politically but also economically motivated. Uzbek human rights activist Shamsiddinov says the 23 defendants — all wealthy entrepreneurs — established a foundation that was involved in charitable activities. He says the foundation’s assets are the real reason for persecution of its members.

“It’s wrong to name the 23 accused men as extremists and Akramiya members,” he said. “They are just a group of entrepreneurs because only few of them are devout Muslims praying and following their faith. At the same time, they have done very good deeds. They represent 15 or 20 companies from different economic spheres and they legally gave away about 20 million soms [$20,000] to public institutions, schools, orphanages, and kindergartens as charity.”

Mamurjon Qurbonov, head of the Turon Production company that produced furniture and conducted trade between Andijan and the Uzbek capital Tashkent is one of the accused men. He told RFE/RL that property including mobile telephones, automobiles, and jewelry has been confiscated from the defendants.

Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan Chairman Yoqubov called the confiscations “state piracy.” He says that as the government faces difficulties in meeting budget needs from a weak tax base, officials seek to make up shortfalls by confiscating property from relatively wealthy people.

That’s quite an incendiary accusation but it’s not without merit.

The men are accused of membership in Akramiya, a group that splintered from Hizb ut-Tahrir in 1996 (one guess what the issue was). Yoqubov (from the above passage) says that Akramiya likely doesn’t exist any longer and seems to dismiss out of hand any of the state’s accusations of membership in extremist groups in any case. I think he’s undoubtedly wrong about that, but it is quite possible he’s right in this case.

Just for the record, I’m officially not taking either side.

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Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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Laurence May 11, 2005 at 2:14 pm

From RFE/RL:

The Akramiya group was founded in 1996 by Akram Yuldoshev, a native of Andijan, after an ideological rift within Hizb ut-Tahrir. Yuldoshev argued that Hizb ut-Tahrir’s proclaimed goal of using nonviolent means to establish a regionwide Islamic state, or caliphate, would not work in Central Asia. He urged followers to gain power at the local level instead of striving for a new global Islamic order.

After Yuldoshev unsuccessfully attempted to register his group with the Uzbek government, his organization was declared illegal and he was imprisoned on charges of unconstitutional activity and extremism. Local observers say that as Yuldoshev now serves his prison sentence, it is not clear whether Akramiya continues to be active in Uzbekistan.

Nathan May 11, 2005 at 2:29 pm

I had a hard time figuring that all out exactly how that all works. Now, I would guess he supported violence, but why would he try to register? Maybe he didn’t support violence and simply wanted to achieve Islamic government through the ballot box?

I’m kind of confused.

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