International

Massacre

From The Telegraph:

“As many as 500 bodies were retrieved after the violence. Uzbek soldiers reportedly fired into a crowd of thousands protesting over hardships in the former Soviet republic as police officers begged them not to shoot.

“They shot at us like rabbits,” one youth said. Troops later moved in among the bodies, finishing off some of the wounded with a single bullet, according to another witness.”

From The Independent:

Gulboxior Turajewa, from a medical charity working in the city, was among the few independent witnesses able to gain entrance to the school that saw the worst of the fighting after protesters fled the square outside the regional government’s offices. Pools of blood mixed with water and dirt could be seen in the blocked, open drains, she said. A blood-soaked baseball cap lay in bushes.

She described the scene inside the pockmarked walls of the technical college, simply named “School No 15”, where hundreds of bodies were laid out in rows. “Outside there was a large bloodstain that no one had cleared away,” she told The Independent. “At first the guards wouldn’t let me in; they also stopped the others who had come to search for relatives among the dead.”

She estimated that as many as 500 bodies were laid out in the grounds, but was prevented by guards from making a proper count. “Only three or four of the corpses had uniforms on. All the others riddled with gunshot wounds were wearing civilian clothing,” she said.

The dilemma of the United States in Uzbekistan is palpable. Quite apart from the strategic importance of the state as a base during the war in Afghanistan and the debt of gratitude which is owed to the odious Karimov, the absence of a developed opposition movement makes it difficult to forsee the shape of, and therefore plan for, a post-Karimov Uzbekistan.

Uzbekistan is, in short, an object lesson in the dangers of failed and failing states. Karimov may, or may not, be able to forestall the collapse of his regime in the short, and possibly even the medium term, by massacre. However, Karimov will ultimately fall. If the United States’ sole contribution to that process is the withholding of a proportion of military and economic aid and a shameful statement calling for “restraint by both sides”, it will have both irretrievably compromised its strategic position in the region and disqualified itself from participating in the process of democratisation which Uzbekistan desperately needs and deserves.

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