Eyewitnesses ready to tell their story about the Andijan massacre
In May 2005 Uzbek soldiers fired on peaceful protesters, who were later accused of preparing an uprising. Uzbek exiles accuse the Uzbek government of still torturing and jailing people who took part in the demonstration; now say they are ready to tell their side of the story.
Tashkent (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Uzbek refugees organised in a group called Andijan–Justice and Resurrection met in Düsseldorf (Germany) last 13 May to commemorate a massacre that took place on that same day four years earlier in the city of Andijan.

The group of exiles accuses Uzbek authorities of systematically using to this day detention, torture, and killing in an effort to silence witnesses of the bloodshed.

On that day four years ago soldiers fired on a peaceful gathering of people who were demonstrating against poor living conditions and corruption in government.

According to neutral observers hundreds, perhaps thousands were shot dead.

Official accounts put the death toll at “only’ 187, Islamists for the most part who were allegedly preparing for an uprising.

The Uzbek government rejected demands for an international inquiry into the event.

Western governments have said that all the facts about what happened have not been made public. Conversely, China and Russia have sided with Uzbekistan.

Following the massacre the alleged ringleaders of the “terrorist” protests were tried and sentenced to heavy prison terms.

Uzbek authorities have been accused however of extorting confessions from the accused under torture.

Nurillo Magsudov, who heads Andijan–Justice and Resurrection, told Radio Free Europe that torture is still being practiced and that four of his relatives died in custody last year, their bodies showing torture marks. 

Shamsiddin Atamatov, also in exile in Germany, said that the Uzbek government had pledged to release all detainees after the December 2007 presidential elections (won by President Islam Karimov in a landslide) in exchange of the exiles’ silence but failed to keep its promise. Instead detention conditions have grown harsher; for this reason they are breaking their silence and are prepared to work with international organisations.

In the meantime the European Union has recently lifted sanctions imposed on Uzbekistan back in 2005. This way trade with the energy-rich Central Asian country can be renewed.