Eyewitness Account from Andijon

by Andy on 5/16/2005 · 8 comments

Today’s Guardian has an alarming eyewitness account from Rustam Iskhakov which, if accurate, shows that some in Andijon are using tactics as brutally violent as the Uzbek government.

I live five to 10 metres away from the jail [in Andijan] and saw it being stormed. At 11.10pm on Thursday people in civilian clothes came in 15 cars from the direction of the Kyrgyz city of Osh.

They were Uzbek, as far as I know. These men attacked the prison guards and drove an Ural 130 truck into the gates. They freed everybody in the jail. About 2,000 prisoners escaped. The guards were not ready for the attack – they did not even have bullets in their magazines.

The mob were about 100- strong with automatic weapons, sniper sights and Makarov pistols. They knew the guards did not have ammunition as they drove right up to the door.

They shot all 52 guards, including two women operating the telephone system. One guard survived by hiding in a watchtower.

Iskhakov goes on to recount an even more indiscriminate use of violence by the Uzbek military.

Also in today’s Guardian is Craig Murray’s view of events.

Subscribe to receive updates from Registan

This post was written by...

– author of 32 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

For information on reproducing this article, see our Terms of Use


praktike May 16, 2005 at 5:21 pm

Did you guys see this? IWPR got their hands on a blood-stained copy of the letter from the 23 businessmen.

Lyndon May 16, 2005 at 5:52 pm

Hmmm…the Muslim Uzbekistan site on Sunday also had an account of a blood-stained letter – http://scrapsofmoscow.blogspot.com/2005/05/last-letter.html – obviously the IWPR is a much more reliable source, but what’s sort of interesting is that the IWPR letter seems to be much longer.

Eric May 16, 2005 at 8:03 pm

I think this worked me up more than the letter:
A middle-aged woman who gave her first name as Muqaddas told IWPR that at nine in the evening – three and half hours after the gunfire began – uniformed men were still shooting anyone who was moving.

“I myself saw how before the assault, a truckload of vodka was delivered to the military servicemen,” she said. “They got drunk, and in this condition they shot and killed the wounded. In my presence, they shot down a woman with two small children.”

There have now been reports on this in different form from some different interviews. I certainly saw people get worked up about things in Uz, but never the sort of rancor that would produce that, even with a few cases of vodka. Anyone have any thoughts on where violence of this sort could be originating from?
Little things like this really make me worried about how these things will eventually be resolved.

david_walther May 16, 2005 at 9:47 pm

I’m really sad to hear this account of the attack on the jail, if it’s true, it certainly changes the nature of the protest, or at least its intent. If true, it would certainly look like those involved in the attack did have some kind of other miliatry backing or training—I don’t think normal people just “fed up” with an economic situation would be that brutal.

On the other hand, following this line of thinking it would certainly give credit for the government’s story to announce this to the world, produce the bodies, pictures, etc. It would immediately discredit the rebellion, so why haven’t we heard this from the government?

Nathan May 16, 2005 at 10:08 pm

If this account is accurate (I feel more confident about Bukharbayeva’s piecing together of the situation for some reason), I could see the government staying quiet about it because it’s m.o. is always to say as little as possible about bad things that happen in Uzbekistan. That whole “Uzbekistan’s tinch, everywhere else is scary” thing.

david_walther May 17, 2005 at 7:24 am

tinch, as in, tinchlik? you may well be right. i still figure they would pull it out before long when the criticism really starts up after a week or two, if it does.

oh, not to get into this arguement, cause i am entering late, but after all the talk about Murray on here, i finally got a chance today to ask someone I know here in Tashkent who knew him very well when he was here. his basic quote was that while his personal life was very much nothing to be proud of, and though he did some stupid things, his information was good, well researched, and not exaggerated. i know that you don’t ignore him entirely, nathan, you’ve been posting his comments up here.

i don’t want to come down on a side in the arguement, i just thought i would contribute that little piece of information that came my way.

Lyndon May 17, 2005 at 8:19 am

Here’s some content I translated from “reliable source” UzA along the lines of official reports saying “Uzbekistan’s hunky-dory.”

This would be more funny if the situation were not so upsetting.

Lyndon May 17, 2005 at 8:13 pm

And here is another “last letter”, this one found by Uznews.net. I first saw this on Ferghana.Ru. It’s in Russian, but I hope anyone still following this story will forgive me for not putting up a translation. My little translating monkeys are all tired out.

Previous post:

Next post: