Protests on Friday in the Eastern Uzbek town of Andijan (Andizhan) have turned into a major flashpoint, with at least ten, possibly more than fifty, dead after a clash between troops and protestors. Despite yesterday’s violence, it appears that protestors have re-emerged onto the streets of Andijon today to continue their demonstration, so the situation remains extremely volatile.
Reports coming out of Andijon itself are very confused at the moment, as the government has virtually sealed off the city, making it difficult for reporters to get in and out.
As a consequence, there is a lot of doubt as to what is behind the protests – whether the driving force is radical Islam, the repressive nature of Islam Karimov’s regime, economic hardship, or a combination of the three. Certainly, Islamic fundamentalism is the charge coming from the Uzbek government, but this is only to be expected given that every enemy of the Uzbek state is pretty much automatically labelled an Islamic fundamentalist or a terrorist. It’s confusing governments and analysts around the world, too, who generally seem rather reluctant to characterise these protests as a democratic uprising.
For more detailed and regularly updated information, check out registan.net where Nathan, as always, is covering the story in depth, and Scraps of Moscow, where Lyndon has been busy translating pretty much every Russian language news report of note.
Also I’m very pleased to see that Dee Warren, a Peace Corps volunteer based in Andijon, has just been evacuated. She has more details on her blog, Wanderlustress.