Skip to comments.Refugees Put Uzbek Dead In Thousands
Posted on 05/16/2005 5:49:54 PM PDT by blam
Refugees put Uzbek dead in thousands
By Deirdre Tynan in Kara Suu, Kyrgyzstan
Refugees who fled from the massacre committed by Uzbek security forces agreed on one thing yesterday: the number of dead is not 500 - the most common reported figure - but could be in the thousands.
As reports continued to come in of clashes spreading outside the town of Andizhan, a sergeant in charge of the bridge at the border village of Kara Suu said he believed that 2,000 had been massacred during three days.
Kyrgz border guards check papers of Uzbek refugees at Kara-Suu
There is no way to confirm numbers offered by refugees, but it seemed likely that when the truth emerges, the massacre in Uzbekistan, an American ally in the fight against terrorism, could become the deadliest assault on civilians since the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989.
The Uzbek-Kyrgyz border at Kara-Suu was open periodically yesterday under the watchful eye of Kyrgyz soldiers armed with machineguns.
Kara-Suu, which is divided between the two former Soviet republics, was tense as traders hurried goods between the two sides of town, divided by a fast flowing river straddled by a makeshift metal bridge.
A few refugees from Andizhan remained in the town staying close to their Kyrgyz relatives and homes. Apart from the 500 believed dead in Andizhan on Friday, there were reports of further deaths in nearby areas.
Saidjahon Zaynabitdinov, the head of the local Appeal human rights group, said yesterday that government troops had killed about 200 demonstrators on Saturday in Pakhtabad, about 18 miles northeast of Andizhan.
Suvahuan, a mother of four in her 40s who fled the town on Saturday with her children, gave a harrowing account of the scene in Andizhan.
"They had snipers everywhere and they didn't care who they shot down. I saw hundreds of people dead in the street. I saw them shoot boys, women and children," she said "They shot at the crowd like animals. They were firing at us from helicopters. People got confused running everywhere, trying to hide in buildings or behind cars.''
Rakhmat, a trader who crossed the hastily rebuilt Kara-Suu river bridge, said he saw desperate refugees drown in the river swollen by spring rains. "President Islam Karimov took that bridge down in 1999 because he didn't want us trading in Kyrgyzstan, that's half the reason why there were protests in Andizhan, it was poverty not politics that drove people on to the streets.
"It was chaotic. I saw several people drown as they tried to cross the bridge. Anyone who says the protest was the work of militant Islamists is lying. It was the people, tired, poor, hungry people, not extremists, who took to the street. Anything else is Karimov's propaganda," he added.
The Kyrgyz department of defence last night hurried lorry loads of troops to the border area 15 miles west of Osh in the south of the country.
More than 2,000 Uzbek convicts, many of whom were imprisoned on charges of Islamic extremism, are still unaccounted for and are believed to be hiding in the Andizhan area 25 miles from the Kyrgyz border. The arsenal at Andizhan prison was looted of rifles and grenades, according to witnesses.
Kyrgyzstan has officially camped 560 Uzbek refugees in Jalal-Abad province, but many more are being housed by extended families and friends.
Gunfire was again reported in Andizhan last night prompting fears that Uzbek forces were flushing armed militants from their boltholes around the town for a final assault.
Alec Russell, in Washington, writes: The Bush administration yesterday toughened its stance towards President Karimov, calling on him to ease his repressive control over the country. In the strongest language to date, the State Department said yesterday it was "deeply disturbed" by reports that soldiers in Uzbekistan fired on unarmed civilians.
Once they invaded a police station to free terrorists, they quit being protestors and became terrorists.
It doesn't add up. Last year I was deployed at Karshi-Khanabad. I still email Uzbek friends. Uzbekistan is secular and nearly all Uzbeks want it to stay that way. Karimov is a dictator but a far cry from the world Islamist theocracy planned by the IMU.
This morning NPR Morning Sedition interviewed a Johns Hopkins Central Asian scholar. They cut him off since his answers didn't bash Bush. He said that Islamist sentiment is minimal in Uzbekistan which is under fire simply for being a U.S. ally.
If you kill 1,000, you wound thousands more. Where is the corroborating evidence? Newsweek is quoting Al-Jazeera for crying out loud, and where is their credibility now?
Uzbekistan is our friend. Consider the source of those who condemn our friends.
It's like the funerals of the suicide bombers... hundreds of wanna be suicide bombers wanting to die for Allah.... I say, "Let's grant their wish."