Human Rights Watch: Andijan “Massacre”

by Laurence on 6/7/2005

Reuters AlertNet – Uzbek killings a “massacre” – human rights report

MOSCOW, June 7 (Reuters) – Human Rights Watch on Tuesday accused Uzbekistan’s leadership of trying to cover up a “massacre” by blocking an international inquiry into the killing of protesters last month.

The full HRW report can be read here. Here’s an excerpt from the press release:

Although armed men were present in Bobur Square during the shootings, the Uzbek government’s use of force against the crowd in the square was neither proportionate nor appropriate to the danger they posed, Human Rights Watch said.  
“The Uzbek authorities are trying to whitewash this massacre,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “Our investigation is a first step towards setting the record straight. But only a full-fledged international investigation, with access to official records, can give a true picture of the tragic events in Andijan.”  
On May 13, 2005, thousands of people participated in a rare, massive protest in Bobur Square in the eastern Uzbek city of Andijan. It was initiated by a group of armed people who earlier in the day seized weapons at a military barracks and police station, led a prison break to free local businessmen unjustly accused of Islamic extremism, and took officials hostage in the local government building. Later the protest grew into a rally of thousands of people voicing their anger about growing poverty and government repression.  
“The attackers committed serious crimes,” said Roth. “Of course the government had the right and the duty to stop them. But that doesn’t justify shooting unarmed people on a mass scale.”  
Roth said that Human Rights Watch’s investigation left many questions, such as the true death toll, still unanswered. A thorough investigation into the killings should include ballistic, forensic and crime scene investigators, and should have access to hospital, morgue, and other official records.  

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