Counting the Dead

by Nathan Hamm on 5/25/2005

The AP appears to be making its own attempt to determine the number killed in Andijon. Considering the difficulties such an endeavor undoubtedly faces, it’s likely to be far from an ideal tally.

An Associated Press reporter over several days visited 16 cemeteries – lying in overgrown fields on hillsides, behind makeshift brick walls and past iron gates – but found just 61 graves that cemetery workers said belonged to victims of the violence.

There was no large concentration of May 13 dead at any cemetery in Andijan except for one, Bogi Shamol. The caretaker there said government workers came to bury 37 bodies in a nearby field without revealing their identities beyond saying they were young men.

At other cemeteries there were at most a handful of dead from the unrest buried beneath fresh mounds of dirt adorned with pebbles and flowers – and teapots or cups to be used in the afterlife.

The city burial office said Friday that 26 funerals had been recorded for those killed May 13, adding that others might have been interred in the surrounding region or that their bodies could still be at the morgue. Plainclothes security officers surround the morgue, refusing to allow reporters to speak with officials.

Death certificates obtained by AP were marked with numbers reaching as high as 328 issued May 14, 304 on May 15 and 279 on May 16. It wasn’t known if the numbers reflected a count that began each day, which would support opposition claims that hundreds died, or a count that began at the beginning of the year. Some Uzbek regional offices that record births and deaths total from the beginning of each year.

The story’s author, Burt Herman, notes that because of the information vacuum surrounding the events and the death toll, rumors are rampant.

Related: RFE/RL reconstructs May 13

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

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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